It's one of those iconic images like Norman Rockwell's painting of Thanksgiving family dinner; except the epochal picture in this story is based on Time magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstadt's snapshot of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day. The latter-day version, snapped last week, shows Navy sailor Kenneth Woodington, returned home to Florida from a seven-month deployment, planting the ceremonial kiss on his husband Byron Woodington.

And, because the couple is gay, the Daily Mail reported that when WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida aired their story, it “faced a brutal homophobic backlash.”

A kiss that made the news

Other news organizations also noted outrage from the public.

Yahoo cited one viewer's letter saying, “How sad that your station has dropped to such a low as to show a gay couple kissing on your newscast.” The odd thing about the negative reaction is that the offense taken is the sight of a loving embrace rather than the non-consensual grab of 1945. As the New York Post reported back then, when Navy sailor George Mendonsa, home on leave strolling Times Square with his girlfriend, Rita Petry, learned the war was over, he promptly seized a passing nurse (Greta Zimmer Friedman) for the famous smooch.

Thanks for the memory

According to a New York Post, Rita didn't mind what George did. But the nurse – a dental assistant – did. She remembers that having heard that the Japanese surrendered, she stepped out of the dentist into the street: “I was grabbed.

That man was very very strong. I wasn't kissing him. He was kissing me.” Her husband saw how she felt by the photograph: “When you get very tense,” he told her, “your arm stiffens up and your thumb sticks out.”

George was upset, but not from his behavior toward Greta, but rather on learning that Life magazine was selling prints of the photo, sued Time-Life for not crediting his part of the picture.

How can you call an act of violence beautiful?

With the #MeToo movement fresh in our minds, you'd think that what George did to Greta would be seen as the bigger offense than what Kenneth did to Byron, that the behavior in Eistenstadt photograph would be seen in the current light of day as unseemly. But then again, Old Master r*pe paintings are still admired for their beauty without a thought to the assault taking place.

I'm thinking of an article titled “The Beautiful Violence of Old Master Paintings” published as recently as last April by an online journal “for those who seek the Truth, the Good, and the Beautiful” which calls itself the Imaginative Conservative.

The article states that the technique and style of such art “remain timeless for its sublime understanding of that which for each human soul cannot be explained.” Want to bet it can be?