Obscenity can be an impossibly subjective thing to define. Former Chief Justice Potter Stewart memorably summed up his thinking on the subject with, "I know it when I see it."
But in Manhattan, a left-leaning capital of a left-leaning state, politics clearly play a role, too.
In August, a gross statue of a nude Donald Trump was "art," and crowds gathered to celebrate it. But when a similarly dysmorphic nude statue of Hillary Clinton was unveiled on Tuesday, it was declared "obscene" and taken down by women at the scene.
Both statues seemed designed to humiliate their subject. But from city officials on down to passersby, New Yorkers seemed OK with a grotesque nude vision of the GOP candidate for president. Kids even poked at it.
When Trump's unsanctioned statue appeared in Union Square, a Parks Department representative even put out a statement filled with double entendres: "NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small."
Passersby snapped photos of Trump and passed remarks about the statue, until the Parks Department took it down after a few hours. Children pointed and giggled.
"This is art at its finest," said New School student Petra Jarrar, 19, who came to visit the sculpture after seeing a live feed of it on Facebook.
Fast-forward to Tuesday, and the reaction to the Hillary statue was ugly. Counter-terrorism officials were reportedly on the scene in Bowling Green by 8:30 a.m. to have the statue taken down.
Onlookers argued over the statue. The woman who declared it "obscene" reportedly knocked it down and, with the help of another woman on the scene, prevented other people from standing it back up, including the man who claimed credit for the statue.
"People were hitting it like a piñata," said Adam Rule, 29, a food vendor who works nearby.
And then Rule said an argument that transcended the subjectivity of party affiliation.
"I felt stupid for even going over there to see," he said. "The hype around this election is pointless. I've seen enough."
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