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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Smithsonian Museum Removes An LGBT Art Exhibit After GOP Threatens To Defund It

Last week, Smithsonian Institution officials in Washington removed an artwork from an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. The critically acclaimed show's subject is a century of gay identity in art.
This act of censorship was a result of bigotry with the assist of the likes of Boehner and Cantor. As the article notes:
Coming after months of news reports of bullying and shocking teenage suicides, and in the week of a fresh Pentagon study supportive of gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed services, the context of the action speaks volumes.
The problem here includes the usual matter of critics singling out small portions of the work that has some particular controversial aspect, particularly one of a sexual nature. Given that art is known sometimes to be controversial, and adult fare is part of the deal, there is always going to be something to excite some people. I see it as akin to obscenity and ratings (I left some comments) -- missing the forest for single trees. Here anti-gay motivations and selective protection of religion ("sacrilegious") are tossed in.*

As with the Library of Congress and Wikileaks, this is an example of the continual pressure and censorship activities of our times. It is a preview of what is to come when top Republican members of Congress blatantly threaten arts funding based on differences of content. As noted above, it is also a piece (see DADT) of their anti-gay bigotry. Freedom of expression along with freedom in general requires support. It is not merely the ability to do things in private (itself not always possible) when you are able to do so.

And, when something like this happens, it's a major red flag.


* Religion often is selectively used to censor and inhibit what should be protected conduct, "blasphemy" (also "profanity" -- what is being profaned?) or "sacrilegious" or "immoral" often the epithets used. Obscenity laws were often historically based on such things. One of many problems here is that the respect for religion is selective as when one person told me "monotheistic" religions didn't believe in same sex marriage, even after repeatedly being told that some very well do. Free speech etc. is also involved.