Democracy, that beloved system of government that vests power in the people, comes with an unsuspected danger. It invites mob rule. Consider the 7,000-signature petition that sent public art at NY’s Federal Plaza to the junkyard.

The sculpture, called “Tilted Arc” by Richard Serra, was a 12-foot tall, 120-foot long, slightly tilted wall of rust-colored metal that bisected the Plaza and blocked foot traffic.

Serra, who died last week at age 85, had alluded to New Yorkers’ rejection of “Tilted Arc” in a remark noted in The Guardian obituary last month: “I don’t think it is the function of art to be pleasing.

Art is not democratic.”

Let’s talk about this

Granted, Serra’s sculpture forced passersby – Federal employees on their way to work – to find other routes to cross the Plaza. What’s more, the rusty-looking wall was far from an objet d’art.

The petitioners also had a built-in reason to complain. “Tilted Arc” was commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration Art-in-Architecture program, and was funded with taxpayer dollars.

But disabusing Federal Plaza of Serra’s artwork amounted to more than removal. Because it was site-specific, designed especially for Federal Plaza, getting it carted away meant killing it.

Granted, a public hearing in preceding the kill, PBS reported in 1985 that 122 people testifying they liked it, including some stars of the art world, such as Claes Oldenburg and Keith Haring.

Only 58 argued against it. Clearly, the petitioners didn’t show.

I keep thinking of the Florida school principal’s forced resignation because parents were upset that their children’s art class showed a photo of Michelangelo’s statue of David.

If it’s public demand can remove an educator over a mere photo, can the removal of that artwork in situ be far behind?

It looks to be only a matter of time before those parents of school children assigned a field trip to Florida’s state museum demand removal of the statue “David” standing tall in the museum courtyard.

Another New York eyesore

Naturally, public art won’t please everyone. But it Serra’s “Tilted Arc” was had to go, surely “Sunbather” by Ohad Meromi at a Long Island City intersection to be ousted, too, and as far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better.

What you see, if you can stand to look, is an eight-foot tall, 4,000 pound florescent pink Gumby-looking bronze in repose. It goes without saying that the obvious question is, who sunbathes on a busy street in the middle of Long Island City?

Costing $515,000 city taxpayer dollars from a street improvement project, “Sunbather” has met with a lot of naysayers. One of them even mounted sign on the site calling the sculpture a "misuse of our tax dollars."

Yet, the statue still basks in the street. Clearly, what’s missing in the effort to get rid of this thing is the democratic way – a petition.