Censorship - "Good" and "Bad" Art...

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by mattvardy, Jun 18, 2004.

  1. "If we truly believe in decency... surely the least we can do is
    protest the use of taxpayers' money to reward and subsidize utterly
    filthy, so-called art." -Sen. Jesse Helms, Republican, N.C.

    "Where does it end? When do these people reach into the Bible and
    ban the Song of Solomon?" -Rep. Major Owens, Democrat, N.Y.

    Hi all.

    Wanted to make this post in the 'ethics' forum, but couldn't figure
    out how [there's no 'Post a New Question' link], so I am posting here
    in the philosophy forum.

    First off, I am a 17 yr. old grade 12 photography student. I need
    your help on the topic of censorship. All you philosophers out
    there, feel free to make a stand on these very controversial

    A) Is censorship necessary in our society to protect the rights of
    B) Is censorship not necessary, and people should have the freedom
    of expression?

    Two very hard questions to answer, and I need to make a stand on one
    of them during my grade 12 photography exam - on Monday the 21st!
    One of the components of the exam is an essay dealing with the topic
    of censorship, and I need to right about, and answer, one of the two
    questions above. My teacher handed out an article with the above
    quotes to get the class thinking... and after reading the entire
    article I am still undecided about whether censorship is a "good"
    or "bad" thing.

    Some more quotes from the artcle [Newsweek: July 2, 1990]:

    "Who is to judge what art is worthy and what is not? How are
    conflicts between decency and free expression to be sorted out? What
    role should the government assume in supporting the arts? Who works,
    who plays, who pays?"

    "Supreme court rulings on obscenity present the artbusters with a
    problem in strategy and tactics. Under the 1973 Miller v. California
    decision, any work that has 'substantial literary, artistic,
    political or scientific value' is not obscene."

    Your help, thoughts, and opinions are all very much appreciated,
    thanks for your time

    ---Matt Vardy.
  2. Surely the correct phrase for you to be using in your Google research is "Entartete Kunst".
  3. The general rule of ethical behavior is "your rights t end where my nose

    So I dont think the issue of A vs. B as you posit it is quite as clear cut as you
    present it.
  4. I believe in 'free speech' etc... but public funding for anything that only interests a small part of the public is another matter. Why should Joe Bloggs contribute via his taxes towards art which he probably thinks is crap? Note that I'm not saying that this art should be banned, only that it shouldn't be funded by public moneys. Many people need to self-fund their own art projects (or else develop their own markets to buy it)...
    I don't know where Helms was coming from; I myself wouldn't say "Ban this art!" - I would just say "Stop funding this art via the public taxes."
    Another example, twisted around: if a group of rich businessmen managed to get themselves public funding to have artworks installed in their offices, wouldn't there (shouldn't there?) be a public outcry? Why spend public funding on something that only interests (or is only available to) this small group of business men?
  5. This is not at all about censorship (although Jesse would probably be all for it), but the more complicated issue of what art should be funded with taxpayer money, who decides which artists get grants, and if the government should be in the business of funding any art.

    I don't have any answers, and given the tiny % of the federal budget spent on the arts, there are far bigger issues that need to be addressed. Jesse is simply playing to the "good old boys" back in NC who get worked up over this type of crap.
  6. http://www.cfif.org/5_8_2001/Legal/issues/ranchers_release.html

    Think about it.
  7. Running joke in the nineties was that Sen. Helms and Sen McCarthy were siamese twins separated at birth...NOT known widely is that McCarthy and one of his clones traveled to Europe in the early fifties to check out overseas American-sponsored libraries to "root out communist literature" They made total asses of themselves and soon took off back to the US. Fear of communism allowed them to exploit a situation in which checks and balances had been removed. Ultimately, an attorney with some fortitude, An essay by a famous correspondent on TV and quiet action in Congress brought him under control. However, by that time tremendous damage had been done and free speech/freedom of expression as we know it, didn't return to the US until the sixties. What allowed Helms to get away with his behavior is that nobody in Congress had the fortitude to hold him accountable, and that a large part of his constituency consisted of disgruntled whites with residual hatred of anything "not like us" who were easily manipulated. While I am totally against Censorship, offensive or hate speech or imagery(expression) relating to hate could be subject to debatable censorship. As an example, our local community cable channel was intended for the use of the public, i.e. folks with some assistance, could put on their own shows. As I expected, this opportunity was exploited by numerous human "worms" who were able to put on shows relating to hatred of others, anti-semitism and homophobia being major subjects. In such cases I feel that the cable channel management should pull the plug, because it is no longer an issue of free expression, but one of borderline criminal activity...However, to return to your premise, I remember the Helms outburst being over art that he happened to dislike, Homophobia also being a major topic in his behavior. As noted by another party, I think that Helms would have loved Hitler's concept of art which consisted of cartoon statutes and Norman Rockwell-like paintings. As far as your premise/question is concerned, most assuredly (B) is the one.
  8. Matt wrote
    A) Is censorship necessary in our society to protect the rights of individuals? B) Is censorship not necessary, and people should have the freedom of expression?
    Neither of these statements goes far enough to garner an insightful answer. Why? They're sort of an all or nothing pair of questions with no room for a wide spread, all inclusive answer.
    Is censorship a valid form of protecting a groups sensitivities? Of course but who's sensitivites are considered valid and who's sensitivities are going to be violated?
    Are we trying to protect Larry Flynt's sensitivites or are we trying to protect a radical Taliban's sensitivity?
    How does one go about making everybody happy and to what responsibility do our leaders have towards hitting a happy medium point as everybody is attempted to be made happy in the process?
    Well the Supreme court decided to protect Larry Flynt's sensitivities but for the most part, all chain stores stopped carrying his "Hustler" magazine; self-censorship. The point, skin magazines can still be purchased but at fewer venues and most of these venues are self-limiting by the nature of their character; liquor stores, sleaze parlors and a couple of broad based news stands that don't care if you're offended or not. But it's still a form of limiting access; a form of societal censorship.
    The courts have ruled on the matters of libel (written) or slander (spoken), both are forms of character assassination and the courts have said in these cases, where intentional harm is intended, one can rightfully sue for personal and punitive damages. This is a form of legal censorship. Mom and Dad can censor their kids behavior and speech to help pass the parent's morality to the developing child. A cop can stop you from mouthing off as a teacher can kick you out of class for similar, "inappropriate" behavior and the Supreme Court has ruled, no yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater because of safety concerns. The point, we live with censorship, common sense or otherwise, on a daily basis and think nothing of it but when these same rules are applied to art, everybody gets crazy. Go figure.
    What really gums the works up, is the question; Who do you want to make the final decision on these matters? Do you want Clinton's, Anything Goes, Liberal Left Wing Army making the censorship rules or do you want Bush's Right Wing Conservative, Constitutional Bashing, You're Now Incognito, Marauders making the rules:)?
    Hope this helps you and good luck with your project.
  9. tough challenge youve been handed out there matt... the reason i suspect you are striving to decide whether censorship is a good or bad thing is that there really is no clear cut answer here. tis neither bad nor good ... it just is.

    Censorship is really not about being good or bad tho - its about how we keep the majority happy and in a democracy its the majority that gets their way. one might argue that where there is no censorship ...there you will find anarchy and we dont want that do we ...lol.

    Good and bad art which you also mention falls into a silmilar catagory, usually named as such by the majority, very subjectively and is often dependant on the mood of the times. jackson pollack's work may seem like childish splatter paint to some but many would pay dearly to own an original today and i suspect that even if you are not a fan you wouldnt turn one away yourself - why? becuase at present it has been decided that jp's work has more merit than others of its genere and that gives it *value* appeal today - this would certainly not have been the case for jp had he showed his work during the renaissance. so maybe they just didn't recognise "good art" back then - hmmm.. i think not!!

    in short these are questions with no fixed answer - one thing is for sure though - good or bad, we do need art as a form of expression and there is much to be gained from it both cerebrally and physically. men (and women i suspect) have been drawing on cave walls since time began and i bet they came up with a catchy tune or two as well while they were out there trackng down the prey.

    my conclusion - we need art good or bad - and i guess censorship - for the good of us all.

    hope my late night ramblings have helped some matt...
  10. jbs


    Take A Stand. What do you believe in your heart. Do you believe it is the governments responsibility to protect you and your children from pornography?

    If so, would this include tracking your web surfing habits in order to root out porn users?

    If the answere is no, is it ok to put nude images of women on billbords alongside the highway?

    Why do we as a society choose to censor?

    I believe it is out of fear.

    What are we afraid of seeing?

    I believe we are afraid of seeing the truth: ourselves.

    Why can the parents not be the censor for their children?

    I believe it is because both parents (most) must work in our society to make ends meet. Children are being raised by the public schools and tv(some say they are being raised by their Uncle Sam).

    I would agree that your question is far too simple to have an honest answere. You must have balance in everything. Just remember to err on the side of FREEDOM and not censorship. Repression leads to bad things. ......;)....J
  11. You got a tough issue. To censor is to put legal force behind preventing people or some people or youths from seeing a presentation, which the individual creating it calls "art" and free expression of ideas. On the other side there are laws prohibiting the exhibition,or limiting the exhibition of what is called obscene,or pornographic. Then that leads to definition of what is obscene or pornographic. And the law has tried,one has to hand it to the Supreme Court for trying, to do just that. It aint easy. Then Matt,one gets into things like 'community standards,' 'no redeeming social value' and maybe a bunch more that I have come across in readings. We live in a Constitutional society which has rights under First Amendment. These have to be interpreted over the years. Your quote of a court case leads you to part of the answer. Our judicial branch often decides. Our community and legislature inevitably influences the decision on who gets to decide. We parents like to think we have some control of what is censored. (Lately it seems Sex is In,Violence is less forgivable, a change from my early years). When William Bennett,who was head of DOE asked the moguls of Hollywood if they were ashamed he was setting himself up to be a moral leader. That is what happens when things get out of control. Yet I did not elect MR Bennett to decide for me. So I guess if I had the essay I would waffle between a and b. Give a for instance before we can make a generalization. In other words,what is the context,who gets hurt,where is the lesser of two evils if someone gets hurt.In other words the morass of moral problems which you will get when you hit college Matt. It hurts few people when Walmart doesnt carry Hustler. It hurts more when under 17 y/olds can't get to see valuable discussion worth movies like,well, In the Bedroom and Traffic come to mind. See what I mean,and I know ya do...
  12. My view on your questions:

    (a) Censorship is not only a valid tool to defend the rights of individuals, it's a necessary one. The argument that you can 'just switch off the televison' or 'not look at the magazine' is over-used and over-simplistic. In order that people can live together in reasonable amity, it is always necessary that they submit to some form of censorship. What's at stake is the degree of that censorship.

    (b) Freedom of expression should not be the freedom to harm others. If someone claims that their racist/misogynistic/perverted rantings should be permitted under the heading of freedom of expression then it appears not unreasonable that performance art based on burning their house down about their ears should also be permitted. However, the latter is unacceptable in civilised circles so it seems reasonable that the former should also be considered unacceptable.

    The real answer is that you cannot sensibly take a stand on censorship any more than you can take a stand on breathing. Censorship is an inherent feature of people living together and is seen in every society from the tribesmen of Papua New Guinea to the streets of London or Washington. What is censored and how will vary with time and the changing concensus of each society.
  13. Matt, I think you can avoid a lot of confusion when you debate censorship if you can differentiate between two different types of censorship that are routinely confused -- often deliberately in order to win arguments.

    (1) One form of censorship (that Thomas describes very well) is the prohibition of harmful content. This is where speech is banned by law because it does harm without sufficient redeeming value that could justify it. This is where the first amendment right conflicts with other rights. Obscene material where children may see it is a good example of this.

    (2) Another form of censorship is when an institution chooses what to support or permit on behalf of its constituents. For example, an art gallery has every right and obligation to choose the content that it wants to promote. This web site has a right to decide what content is inappropriate, and it is under no legal requirement to grant anyone freedom of speech here.

    I see that Harvey has already made this point, but I will go ahead and echo what he said. Both types of censorship are certainly valid and necessary functions within a society. But they are both subject to value judgments as to where the line is to be drawn. A key point is that harm is done if censorship is either much too weak or much too restrictive.

    So the answer to your question, "whether censorship is a good or bad thing," is that it is not only a good thing, it is absolutely necessary for a society to function. However, when censorship is misguided and abused, it is bad. --Joe
  14. I also think it would be good to study The Great Debate about whether the NEA has a right to discriminate in awarding grants to artist based on viewpoint. A law passed years ago gave the NEA the authority to discriminate against certain artist because their subject matter doesn't fit "standards of decency and respect", which the NEA is free to define as they please. The law was passed in response to the NEA's funding of Mapplethorpe's portrayal on homosexual acts and Serrano's portrayal of a crucifix immersed in urine.

    One camp argues that the NEA, as part of the Federal government, is obligated to be viewpoint-neutral in situations when the government is not specifically promoting a particular viewpoint. An example often sited is that the government cannot discriminate against who gets a permit for a parade based on the viewpoint of the paraders. This is true even though the government will have to use city resources for the parade and the taxpayers may prefer that the resources go to some parades and not others.

    The other camp (Helms) argues that the NEA has a constitutional right to decide on behave of the taxpayers where the funds will go, and to not pay for art that is flagrantly indecent and disrespectful of society's standards. They argue that this in no way abridges the artist first amendment freedom to express himself, just not at the taxpayer's expense.

    This debate went to the Supreme Court, and the court ruled that the NEA can choose based on the viewpoint of the artist. So the censorship debate goes on. --Joe
  15. I think that the person who attributed censorship to fear was largely correct, and the one who equated offensive speech to arson has never suffered both. Too many people cloud the issue by confusing free speech with criminal activity. Free speech is our most precious right, and a little censorship is as good for our society as a little cancer is for our bodies. To say that government funding of art is wrong because only a few appreciate it, or only a few are offended by it misses the point entirely. If our society's artistic legacy is to be determned by mass apeal, or private funding, it will be of little interest or value to anyone, ever.
  16. Thank you all for your EXTREMELY helpful responses.

    I have to answer and write about one of two questions, whether I agree with it in reality or not does not matter. It seems to me that Joe put it best:

    'So the answer to your question, "whether censorship is a good or bad thing," is that it is not only a good thing, it is absolutely necessary for a society to function. However, when censorship is misguided and abused, it is bad.' --Joe

    I think that is the stand I will take: that cesorship is necessary in order for society to function (could be my thesis?). In paragraphs I could give examples and explanations of why and how censorship keeps society functioning.

    Thanks again.
  17. Matt wrote
    In paragraphs I could give examples and explanations of why and how censorship keeps society functioning.
    I might be saying what you're saying in your above, in my below:)
    You might want to expand on the idea of the need for censorship and why it comes about in the first place. To leave the reasoning of the need for censorship out of the conversation gives an incomplete argument on the question.
    Many people, in their innocents think that censorship, on it's face, is a bad thing such as to simply keep someone from cussing in public. Somewhat I would agree with this shallow reasoning. But even constraining a persons public use of language is a good thing, as the setting of reasonable limits is the glue of society so everybody can get along when in the close quarters of a crowded city environment. People's sensibilities, to a degree, need to be considered. So if you look deeper and the why there's a resonable need to constrain behavior of others, then reasonable censorship, begins to make logical sense.
    Remember, the purpose of the First Amendment to the American Constitution was so people/press could speak out against the government, not so people could cuss in church or a shopping mall:) The Founders of the US Constitution figured that maturity was the reasonable watch word. They gave credit where credit was due and didn't figure it was necessary to write down rules of social engagement on what was considered to be common sense thinking. The subject of social engagement was a subject that was universally understood and accepted; norms. Laws were created to cover those few who didn't understand this thinking:) Laws, the codification of ethics and morality; "Thou shalt not kill."
    Most censorship takes place around hateful, offensive or sexual behavior and for good reason. So one needs to think about where or when does censorship take place as is this censorship societally beneficial? Is it being done to protect troops who've been sent into harms way on a field of battle? Is it being done to keep people from getting in fights on the streets? Is it being done to protect undercover operatives spying on a mortal advisary such as a druglord who's selling heroin or crank to high school kids? Is it being done to protect corporate trade secrets; the purpose of patent laws? Is it being done for reasons of simply helping people get along as offensive behavior has sensibility boundries put on it. Is it being done to protect one's little brother/son/sister/daughter from a sicko perverted child porn king? The list can be expanded upon to your heart's content as to content and reasoning behind the resonable need for censorship.
    It's not an innocent world out there and people, without social or legal constraints would run amok in a heart beat if given the chance. If only ten percent of the population were to eschew laws of decency or conduct because of no legal controlling authority, the courts and cops were all retired, life as we know it would end immediately and anarchy would become the watch word of the day and kill or be killed would become the norm. Extreme logic? Yes, but no law or censorship and many would take advantage in a heart beat as that's part of human nature.
    So the point of the above is to carry to the logical conclusion of why there's the need for reasonable censorship in our daily lives, examples of daily censorship and how censorship helps keep "society functioning" (as you pointed out), as opposed to how excessive censorship can unreasonably constrain society and thereby become the strangulator of a free flowing society of thinking people. This as opposed to what would happen if there wasn't any censorship, no law, anything goes, anarchy; the open range, Wild West attitude of the 1880's American West.
    Remember, in the beginning, there wasn't such a thing as censorship. Society created censorship for a reason, to help us get along, a la Rodney King.
    Hope the above gives you some ideas. Wishing you the best and we'll all look forward to reading your diary as to how things went.
  18. There is no "Good or Bad Art"What I think is trash may be the next Monet or A.Adams in a frame and vise versa.
    "Ellis Vener" said it most correctly.
    Helms wasn't playing to the good old boys in N.C. but to the Ashcrofts of our country.
    Look at the art of the Romans 1500 years,how much of this would be censored?
    For "Kenneth Katz":In S.F.,Calif there is a large advertisement seen from the public streets and I will quote"Visit Asheville,N.C.,S.F. of the East coast".How much more liberal can the state where Helms lives get?

    Ron Crowder
  19. Lets start with Taxpayers money and art.
    Some art is popular, so people will buy it (or reproductions of it) and it is self funding. Some isn't. The point of a government funding art is that it is to avoid being philistines. However the government is spending tax payers money to subsidize art which most of them think is crap. How much they should spend, and on what, is a proper topic of discussion because no single individual can say what is worthy art, and what is unworthy. There are some people who beleive all nudity is obscene so can't distinguish between MichealAngelo and Larry Flint. I'd say that makes them philistines, and badly qualified to be making funding decisions. If the government only subsidized stuff that everyone liked it would defeat the point.
    Now the government failing to grant a subsidy is not censorship. Going and closing a gallery is censorship, banning a publisher from putting a book on the shelves and so on... that is censorship
    To some extent freedom of expression is a myth. (Doubly so in America, where lobby groups work hard to prevent some classes of people from expressing things they don't like ). Consider these points:
    * No-one prevents you from writing in your exam that the examiners are morons to even ask such a question. Saying such a thing has consequences - but that is not the same as saying that examiners apply censorship.
    * You can't shout "Fire" in a crowded theatre and argue freedom of expression.
    * Laws of defamation and in some places race relations laws criminalise the publication of certain views, and that is a form of censorship, and it does act to protect the rights of individuals. No official of the government comes to stop the presses printing such a thing, but a law suit afterwards is a deterant it leads to practice self censorship.
    Since there is a means of redress if one person's expression violates another persons rights, there is no need to curtail expression itself. Put another way, all three points show freedom of expression has limits. Go beyond those limits and you encounter "censorship" of one form or another
    Statement (B) implies that if there is ANY censorship there is NO freedom of expression.
    Imagine a world where censorship was ABSOLUTELY forbiddn. Would you allow someone the freedom of expression to express any belief ? Including the belief that there should be censorship ? Or is that the one view which is itself censored ?
    Imagine the a store owner who finds the views in a book repugnant, by refusing to stock it he is expressing his view, and curtailing the freedom of the author to express his view. Whose right wins ?
    Of the two statements I disagree less with A than B. But A would be more correctly expressed in the form
    "Although most people believe in a right to free expression, totally free expression can violate the rights of others. A newspaper can not defend publication a false story which ruins someone's reptuation on the grounds of freedom of expression. Without some curtailment of the freedom of expression, other rights will be violated, and such curtailments are censorship, even if self practiced."
    Good luck !
  20. John McCain promulgated legislation, Congress passed it, George Bush signed it, and the Supreme Court upheld it; that severely limits the manor that citizens can band together and criticize their government and elected officials within 90 days of an election. For example under the new law, Thomas Paine and his friends couldn?t have spent their money to print and distribute ?Common Sense?. (It was against the King?s law then.)

    Therefore, isn?t it pretty much a moot point to debate what rights that we had under the, late and great, First Amendment?

    However, debate we will so; I will add that the reason I posted the link to the ?Beef it?s what?s for dinner? article is that the Supreme Court has held TWICE that it is a violation of a persons First Amendment rights to force them to pay to disseminate ideas that they don?t agree with. Isn?t art, an idea?

    Note:wheather the ads were right or wrong wasn't even an issure, just that some of those forced to pay for them didn't agree with them.
  21. Personally, I disagree with the notion that any art intrinsically deserves federal, or government, funding.

    To not fund art is not the same as censorship.

    Sure, there are those who will argue that to not provide economic incentive is the same as censorship.

    Art should compete in the public realm like any other aspect of our culture. As much as I dislike consumerism and commercialism, it sometimes beats the elitism that allows the art community to be out of step with the culture in general. I feel that somehow unbridled government funding promotes the continuance of elitist art.

    OTOH, I'm not prepared to resign all art to the role of decor. Its important that there be intellectual underpinnings. The problem I see is the general public has been left out of the intellectual discussion surrounding art, as its (generally) been unapproachable to the layman.

    That's where the responsibility lies with artists: to make their work, and the concepts behind it, approachable and accessible. And not hide behind the apron strings of government funding.
  22. Matt: here is an experience that you might be able to relate to..in my Junior year in an American Overseas DOD school (Munich) one of my teachers spoke out against the war in Vietnam. (This was 1966). Until this time all we heard were positive statements coming from Uncle Sam. Some of my friends had already enlisted. The statements from this teacher were shocking, but factual. We knew the war had been going on too long already, and disciplinary problems with local GI's that had returned from a tour of duty were also evident. Within a week, this teacher was transferred out of the school. But unrest increased. In my Senior year, the school became disorganized and huge student/Army behavior problems developed including rock throwing at MPs, MPs going after kids, GIs not answering alerts, MP jeeps disabled by kids as revenge, and finally, watching an officer lose it completely and forcing troops to attention by firing his pistol into the air. The cause of the whole mess was anger by being fed misinformation and frustration over not being able to effect change in processes. The exercise of freedom of expression in such situations on base/off base was risky because if you made trouble, the father would be called into a meeting with his commanding officer to apply leverage (career damage)to the offending teenager...glad those days are over.
  23. Sorry John, your example doesn't quite ring a bell. Maybe you could explain why the dismissal of a teacher paid by DOD ( who chose to be agovernment employee on a military base) is appropriate to preach to students(if that is what he did)that he opposes the mission their parents have signed on to do.Not OK. There was no lack of dissent to the Vietnam War-as I well recall,quite the contrary on campuses not government funded. And others who honestly supported it and our troops and POWs. Senator McCain stands as one I have heard and trust.Others left the war and then changed their minds ( egKerry). In retrospect we might think our expeditionary force to France in WWI was misguided,our Spanish-American War was improper,the Confederacy of the South was misguided,and maybe a lot more wars. But to use a military teacher example is pushing the envelope. Soldiers vote. Teachers vote. Both have rights to petition Congress and the administration. If this teacher taught civics I trust he taught the proper way to protest policy. Civil disobedience and obstruction of public property gets to be iffy at best. Individuals may judge,but protest has to have some boundaries. I am thinking now of an activist environmental group that blocked a cement pour for a highway,costing taxpayers fifty grand. Its a sticky wicky is all I say. Teachers have to tread carefully,as they are parent surrogates in many ways. Confining their classroom speech is not exactly the insidious,stifling,authoritarian,anti Bill of Rights form of censorship we worry about. The Helms type pushed to its limit. It cuts many ways. The debate lately is over religious expression in public places. I will let Thomas take that on another time:)
  24. Oh oh, please notice my statement merely cites facts directly observed and experienced, not pro/con. Yes the teacher did pay the price (and she did so courageously, knowing what would happen when she made the statement) But many young men in our generation also paid a price. The draft sucked up a disproportionate number of working-class non-college bound males who couldn't get deferments, and note that our current super-hawk President conveniently "got lost" when his turn came, making a good comparison with John McCain, who has more fortitude in his shirt pocket than Bush has in his entire "team"... Regardless of the pro/con views of that war, a common consensus should be that it didn't turn out like any of us hoped it would, and that the US entering into this conflict which we had already subsidized since the late forties to the tune of at least 1.5 Billion Dollars was with good intent...
  25. The important thing we agree on John F,-I think-is need to lasso the tail of the dragon with the big stick,i.e. our Fearless Leaders in DC and the Pentagon:Re: Telling the facts,timely.Who sorts it out, Who interprets the picture and stands up to the censors? I still have feeling its up to a free press to sort this for us who sit at the end of the TV remote control... Matt,don't forget in your essay to mention that there has been since last two decades a Freedom of Information Act and more. So,your conclusion, if it says censorship is sometimes necessary for a society to keep working,ought to mention that there are checks and balances to the black-magic-marker- censors. We hope. Its a dynamic thing.Good luck, have a restful Summer break after all the mind busting work,good lad...GS
  26. I think that we are missing the point here. If the government decides to use tax dollars to deciminate "art", isn't everything that someone wants deciminated and isn't "censored"? Are they "censoring" my work because they don't display it?

    If I want to take my money and run an ad that says this or that politishion "knows" little children in the bibical sense, and I am prevented from doing that, that is "censorship". If a galery choses not to hang my work, that is "good taste".

    We just lost a huge chunk of our constitutionally protected rights to the "campaign finance reform law" and everyone is concerned over wheither or not, Howard Stern can use the F word on the radio???

    Go figure. "People get just about as good a government as they deserve".
  27. I think I see the point. If the play Vagina Monologues script is removed from public supported libraries,that is censorship. The burden of proof is on the library system to say why. Is all. Simple. Just show us,or tell us why?
  28. So there should be a formal justification for every book the library doesn't shelve???
  29. So, how does censorship keep society functioning? The only thing I can think of is how censorship can protect the sensitivities of some people (younger and otherwise), but are there any other ways through which censorship helps society function?
  30. jbs



    That is a huge question for a forum like this.

    Simply, and through my eyes, Censorship is a mechanism that helps maintain the status quo. We as a society, as humans, don't neccessarily want to progress so we turn to censorship (all forms) to slow down the progression of self awareness so that we as a species can enjoy our sleep a little longer before we are forced to awaken and get on to the next thing.

    Simply, By giving structure and rule and abating for the time being...chaos.

    Have fun...;)...J
  31. Well, i was going to say something, but Jay said it.
  32. Well put with few words Jay.
  33. All those that want four letter words on the evening news,raise your right hand. " And now for our summary tonight. Things in Iraq are as fugged up as before. And in Arabia,some mean motherfubber named Ahmed X beheadeded a civilian. Here's a clip of that body part now, graphic yes,but I want our viewers to know what kind of motherfuggers we are dealing with. And now back to Melody and her Naked News segment. Melody..."Silly,sure,but I have watched some of that whatsisname Stern.Jesse Helms had a bit of a point about decency. Censorship,not always involuntary,is a means of maintaining a society that upholds a sense of proportion and dignity in its public offerings. That applies to art as well as the public airwaves. The emphasis is on public. Anything goes is for the private world which government ought to keep hands off. Oops,another issue. Adios,amigos.
  34. Censorship - "Good" and "Bad" Art...

    Depends how far the individual can look round corners. Most folk, don't. They like to be told what to think.
  35. Allen wrote
    They like to be told what to think.
    And Allen, we'd like you to keep thinking that:)
  36. Its simple:any kind if censorship is always bad, because once it is allowed to start it will never end. I believe our Constitution refers to it as freedom of expression.
  37. Anyone see that horror film "The Passion of the Christ"? If you could see past the grotesque and pointless violence, I think there might have been a point about censorship and free speech in there somewhere.
  38. Disclaimer: I'm British and UK mores do differ from US ones (despite Blair).

    Censorship may be legal or economic. In either case, it may be political, overtly or not. From what I've learned from the BBC and other sources here, the current US situation is producing a tightening of the legal situation and wholesale use of the economic one.

    Economic sanctions have been used with Michael Moore and others who have been openly critical of the current political situation through their their "art". In some instances, it goes further - for example, the cosy relationship between the Pentagon and Hollywood film makers who rent DoD troops and helicopters for their blockbusters. To avoid offence to their main supplier, they rewrite the history they are purporting to show - a common enough practice in some films, but especially extreme in this genre. This could be described as "censorship before the fact".

    Legal censorship is intended to act as a safeguard on society, to avoid extreme representations of behaviour or "lunatic fringe" activities. Although technically consensual, in most societies their is inevitably an element of political control. Sometimes it can go further - I understand that Colin Powell's son is in charge of the organisation which licenses cable channels in the US. Coincidence? Maybe.

    So how does this relate to "art"? Great art is to some extent transcendent and throws light on the human condition (sometimes reflecting the dark corners of society in the process). It seems to be recognised with the passage of time - although some people can recognise it immediately. If it happens to fall outside the accepted parameters of the times, it is often condemmed and perhaps even destroyed as threatening. "Good" art may share some of these traits and is good because many people can recognise them (over time). "Popular" art is of its time and recognised at once. It may also be "good" or even "great" but is less likely to be threatening. Some artists are consciously subversive and become controversial. Their level of infamy is not directly related to the quality of their work - sometimes it's just a publicity stunt!

    Taxpayer's money can, in principle, find its way to any of these forms of art. In the UK, it tends to be controlled by special-interest groups, who spend a lot of time pontificating and then trying to convince us that they are "speaking" for us. The system is far from perfect (probably corrupt, even if only through unitentional group bias) but without some public money, some good or great art might not make it. Think of it as an intervention in the seed bed of a large Darwinian garden. Ultimately it is "survival of the fittest". Oh, and don't get me started on "patronage"!

    Just my thoughts?
  39. I'm British and UK mores do differ from US ones (despite Blair).
    Which means a bald guy dressing up in drag on TV is likely your pinnacle of commedial artisanship.
    We'll trade you. You can have Howard Stern and Michael Moore, and we'll take the BBC.
  40. Phylo: thanks for that link to Frank's testimony. Viva Zappa!<p> Matt! be sure to read that link. (I'm listening to "Strictly Genteel" right now)... t
  41. Viva the great Zappa indeed for his music is still alive and kicking...always will be.
  42. "Zappa's lyrics censored" ?

    That testimony was about the proposed music industry rating system, not about censorship and not about Zappa's lyrics in particular and certainly not about censoring Zappa's lyrics.

    Despite Zappa's concerns, the rating system was implemented (without legislation), Zappa continued to make the music he wanted, and the sky did not fall.

    So what's the beef?
  43. There's no beef (I don't eat meat). I made the link cause I thought it adressed the topic of censorship very well, and also because censorship in music and performance is an 'all time classic'. I think labeling ones creations in order to make an already decided negative judgement about it and trying to keep it away is a clear form of censorship. And some of Frank Zappa's lyrics and live performances actually where censored and labeled as they where 'sexualy too explicit' according to some people.While it was all about the music and nothing but the music (spiced with humor) such stigmatizing labels can make it look like it's only about that, while it clearly wasn't.Okay, there may be much heavier to life examples in history of censorship but I understanded that it was about censorship in art, and hey anyone who thinks that zappa's music isn't pure art, well... interview
  44. Joe wrote
    So what's the beef?
    It seems the beef, based upon reading the testimony, was that Frank didn't want to have a jacket hung on him based upon the rating placed on the CD cover. The funny thing, anybody that knows Frank Zappa lyrics, already knows what Frank Zappa is about. The point, Frank Zappa is already wearing a stigmatized jacket based upon his past performaces and published albums, so I don't understand his real concern of being "stigmitized":)
  45. Zappa is not wearing any thing these days. He died from cancer quite a while ago.
  46. John wrote
    Zappa is not wearing any thing these days. He died from cancer quite a while ago.
    So when he made the prensentation, he was already dead from cancer? Wow! That's pretty incredible. How'd he do that?
  47. By the way,Matt Vardy, I glanced at your portfolio.Nice stuff.Way to go. The censorship issue is designed to make you think. Since you understand the need to limit the expression of pictures that are offensive or obscene or violate individual privacy,then you can make your case with examples. Using some in this thread perhaps. Art is as subject to restraint or excess as anything else in a large society. Who makes the decision. Here you have an idea of the scope of the decisionmakers. So you can say it starts with the exhibitors and publishers and ends sometimes with the Supreme Court. And then finish with a declaration that you feel censorship or restriction should be limited,as small as possible in an open society,and when challenged,there should be understandable grounds for the censoring. Does that help more? We got off topic but that is the nature of such discussions. They wander. Keep your essay tight or the teacher will nod off.OK?
  48. The freedom of an animal is follow its instinct. The freedom of humans should be different,.... I guess.
  49. Thanks, Phylo, for the clarification. And a special thanks for that interview link -- it is a classic!

    In the interview, Zappa eluded to the kind of censorship that he endured. It is basically the sort of censorship that the music and broadcasting companies impose in the form of decisions about the material that they feel fits their market. However, he did argue that it goes beyond merely marketing choices -- he believed that the religious right-wing conspirators use their financial leverage to push for conservative social engineering. I'm sure this is true, but my uninformed opinion is that it probably is not nearly as big a factor as he implies.

    So, getting back to the photographic art world, is there a sense out there that religious right-wing conspirators use their financial leverage to push for a similar kind of censorship in art galleries, exhibitions, etc.? How is it accomplished? Is the impact significant, or just a minor irritation?

    I ask this question because of some very strong anti-censorship sentiment expressed in this forum. --Joe
  50. Here's a response from a heading about originality I posted a while back that applies:

    Alexander Thompson , may 14, 2004; 09:21 p.m.
    Sorry, been away for a few days. where was I? oh yea...

    I went to a Mapplethorpe show at the ICA in Boston, years ago. The show was all over the news. Many were offended by the naked pensive boy photo, and the bullwhip up the butt photo. Many more were offended that these photo's were produced using an N.E.A. grant.

    I went to see the show, and between admission and 'T' fares to and from, was out more than the show was worth: It sucked.

    The hubub surrounding the controversial dead artist catapulted him to hights. He's now known to almost all of you, and is listed as a Master on some sites. ____________

    I imagine most readers are saying this has nothing to do with the current thread. But it does, for now that we've allowed Mapplethorpe a place in the pantheon, not only will good work be emulated, bad work will also.

    Boy, I am an opinionated S.O.B.


    Censorship is a non issue in my opinion. Bad art speaks for itself. There is such a thing as masterfully done art photography that broaches subject matter that some find objectionable. (Erotica, War, Homelessness, Babylon etc.) However this isn't mass media, and the viewer seeks it out, so there should be no 'decency' matter involved.

    It's kind of like the old joke: Patient: "Doc, it hurts whenever I do this!" (View unpleasant art, for instance.) Doc: "Don't do that, stupid!".

    Good luck.
    I hope you got fair marks, that you chose this forum as a place to start should be good for points.
  51. Alexander wrote
    It's kind of like the old joke: Patient: "Doc, it hurts whenever I do this!" (View unpleasant art, for instance.) Doc: "Don't do that, stupid!".
    A flaw in the logic, you're solution precludes one from even going to a museum as opposed to the museum sectioning off the displays according to subject matter so the patron can choose which rooms to go into.
    When the lines of decency are blurred to the point on no distiction in galleries or museums, then the person's only choice is to not go when there is an easy solution, again, segregating the artistic efforts so people have the choice of not doing it or not.
    The other difference, chances are, the shoulder is going to heal, or the surgen can perform an operation so as to correct the problem and the person with the hurt shoulder has a choice. The museum goer doesn't have the ability to censor what they see as they go unexpecting from viewing gallery to viewing gallery. Forced is forced when you have no choice and the shocking nature of the images are sprung on the viewer without prior consent. At least when one goes into a topless bar, or Hooter's restauraunt one knows why they're there; Hot Wings!:)
    Not saying you're doing this but many don't want to acknowledge that much artistic material, intentionally, is created to be offensive because the act of offending others, floats their boat. So the shock created by the forcing of others by nature of one being the unsuspecting, gives the individual creator great thrill as these shock artists like messing with another person's unsuspecting brain.
    If works are segmented off, in seperate viewing galleries and a sign is posted as to a warning of offensive, graphic or sexually explicit material being inside and unsuitable for the younger or more easily offended, then once you voluntarily cross into the viewing gallery, you lose the right to whine and complain as you did it to yourself.
    At least give the patron of the arts a choice.
  52. Matt,now that you have started your essay,let's work on getting a B+ or an A. The conflict in censorship is as your teacher proposed, Who gets to decide? And how far does the restriction reach. Who are we protecting in society? We are all opinionated S.O.Bs when it comes to what we want to see in a movie house or say in a museum that might be host to tours of grade school children,so there is always a decision on what is appropriate for selection in an exhibit. That is not the big issue. It is what someone said,the evil banning of art and books from anyone seeing or reading them. Entarte Kunst the phrase above is a reference to degenerate art. What the Third Reich decided noone could see or produce in those days in Germany. Then there was the list of books,and images, forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church for much of its history. And not to leave good old USA out of the history, the restriction on importing books by Henry Miller. The including of the book Ulysses in the public libraries of certain place. The list gets pretty long. The problem has been to confine censorship to where it fits in, identifying it for the consumer(the Zappa committee) and to transcripts) and to not ban something from a society altogether. Read Fahrenheit 541 by Ray Bradbury for a fictional view of the censor gone mad. Once again,just as you pick the subjects of your photography and select the content of your photos in their frames,remember: Don't wander all over your subject. Crop.Crop some more,if you can. Good luck and aloha.GS
  53. "Censorship is a mechanism that helps maintain the status quo."

    Or is designed to change it. See the various rules regarding ads for cigarettes and alcohol for examples.
  54. jbs


    Very True Will. Social engineering either way.....J
  55. If maintaining status quo means upholding the norms or values of the majority of sane adult voting people in a community or a society (too big a category for me),then we might agree somehow, gents. Cigarettes,never thought of them in this discussion. I thought that was a public health issue and not a value or norm issue? Limiting advertising without health warnings doesn't quite sound like "censorship"'s definition,but heck we could take this discussion into 2005 batting that one around. Public acceptance of shifts to status quo behavior happen often without social engineering to quell them. Notice in the People Photography section we see a bunch of nudists publicly biking.And the internet has like whatever one wants to see,thus the censoring of computers in libraries. Now that is an issue worth batting around. When I was a kid,there was a locked book section with Lady Chatterley's Lover. It was Boston and Boston was blue nosed but bawdy.We had little trouble getting the censored stuff,you all know that. Bareass biking wouldn't likely happen in Dothan, Alabama. Or Pensacola. Or Houston. Or San Diego. Why not? Censorship keeps naked ladies with genitals out of pictures in the gallery. Why not out of the streets? We are a funny species. Social engineering is for the ad execs. They convince us to learn to love the SUV and vote for you know who.
  56. Taken within the context of taxpayer funding of art, specifically via the NEA, the censorship argument by the artists themselves and their proponents was, and is, bogus. It was never really about censorship; it was about getting the money. Whenever an entity such as the NEA is established for the purpose of funding art, it is inevitable that it will satisfy no one.

    Let me expand on that point. Again, I will use the NEA as an example. Here are some indisputable facts about the NEA: 1) The NEA is funded with a finite supply of taxpayer dollars; the money supply is not limitless; 2) There are more applicants for NEA grants than there are NEA grant dollars; 3) Given that 1 & 2 are indisputably true, someone has to make a decision on who gets the NEA greenbacks and who does not; 4) Given that 1, 2, & 3 are all true, some artists will be funded and some will not; those who are not funded are going to feel aggreived. They and their supporters are going to scream censorship, when it has nothing to do with censorship, but has everything to do with who gets the money.

    So, in a nutshell the NEA's primary function is to decide who gets the dollars. That's it. I contend that this is an impossible function. No one person, nor a committee of ten, a hundred, or a thousand can reasonably decide what is good art and what is bad art, and, more to the point, which art is deserving of being funded with taxpayer dollars and that which is not. But once again, because there is a finite supply of dollars, this decision must be made. It's really a matter of where the line is drawn. When a left/liberal administration is in office the line will be drawn in one place; when a right/conservative administration is in office the line will be elsewhere.

    And despite the misrepresentations of his positions in some of the previous posts, that is what Jesse Helms was doing. He was arguing for having the line drawn in a place where he thought the majority of Americans stood. And he was right in doing so. No doubt that the majority reading this, and the majority in the "arts community" disagree with where Helms would have that line drawn. But I contend that the "arts community" is more out of touch with the majority of mainstream America on such matters than was Jesse Helms.

    Let's look at three of the more controversial artists that caused such a stir surrounding the NEA in the late-seventies and the eighties. Andreas Serrano dropped a plastic crucifix in a jar of blood and urine, photographed it, called it art, and got generous taxpayer funding via a $75,000 NEA grant. Karen Finley smeared chocolate over her nude body (a feces metaphor for how the patriarchal establishment was holding her down--how clever) in New York art houses, spouting out her own radical form of man-hating feminism, all the while making a living off the taxpayer dole for a decade or more. Robert Mapplethorpe received numerous NEA grants over the years, for work which covered an expansive subject matter, some of which I liked. But it was a relative handful of his homoerotic imagery which garnered most of the attention and stirred the most controversy. I suspect that most readers know the images to which I am referring.

    Jesse Helms believed that the huge majority of Americans would find each of the three aforementioned examples reprehensible and that they would not wish to fund such "art" with their hard-earned tax dollars. (An aside: If you think he was wrong about that, well, I would suggest that you venture outside of your own insulated enclaves and see for yourselves. Rightly or wrongly the majority in this country do not wish their tax dollars to fund such work. I guarantee you that.) In that we live in a representative deomocracy, Helms was correct in arguing for a position at which he felt the majority of Americans stood.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not arguing that on any issue, whatever the majority wants, they get. I am not for mob rule. But on the narrow issue of deciding which artists get taxpayer dollars and which do not, I think being guided by majority opinion should certainly be strongly considered. One could do worse.

    When discussing the three controversial artists above, I used trite, derisive commentary when describing their work. I don't like their work. I think it is lacking in talent and is primarily possessed of shock value with the intention to offend. I would be appalled to find that my involuntary tax dollars supported work that is so offensive to me. Undoubtedly, there are those who have the opposite opinion. I am sure many believe that if controversial art is not funded, then you will only get dull, homogenous art. You may very well be right. But therein lies the problem. I have my strongly held opinions on such matters, and others have equally strong opinions which are totally contrary to mine. I believe I am right; you may believe I am wrong. But really, no one knows for sure, we just have our own beliefs. That cirle can never be squared.

    Which leads me back to my original contention that the NEA has an impossible task. When it comes down to deciding which artists get funded by the taxpayers, and which do not, decisions which are amiable to all are simply not possible. It gets down to where each of us wants the line drawn. We'll never all agree. It's not possible.

    Primarily because I am a free-market conservative, and also for all the reasons given above, if in power, I would completely defund and shut down the NEA tomorrow. I just don't believe there are compelling reasons that the government should be in the business of funding the arts. If one's art can't survive the marketplace, well, that's too bad. I wish I could make my living selling prints of my landscape photography. But I cannot. My work is not appealing to enough people willing to pay an amount which would allow me to live comfortably. Such is life. So, I make my living in manufacturing and pursue my photography as a passionate hobby, selling a few prints here and there, always trying to improve, but most important, enjoying the pursuit. If Andreas Serrano's work cannot survive the rigors of the free market, he, like me, needs to find other work. I do not wish to subsidize his existence, either lavish or modest.

    And lest you think I am applying my position only to "controversial" art, I am not. I don't believe the government, i.e., taxpayers, should be in the business of funding any art. I love classical music and am a regular patron of my community's (Nashville, TN) symphony orchestra. I am fairly confident that over the years they have been the recipient of NEA grants. They have a perfectly fine hall, no doubt built in-part or totally with taxpayer dollars. But they want, and are getting a new hall built, also, no doubt, with substantial taxpayer funds. But you know what? When I go to watch them play I look around and believe me the audience is not packed with minimum wage workers. These are primarily people of means. The point being that the huge majority of the patrons of the arts are people who do not need their art subsidized. I cannot justify the involuntary taking of the earnings of a single mother working two jobs, raising her children, in order to lower my ticket price by $5 to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

    No artist, not one, has a "right" to be seen or heard. If their work cannot stand on its own merits in the free market, well, that's too bad. And if they are not the recipient of an NEA grant or other equivalent subsidy, they are not being censored. It's not censorship; it's about the money.
  57. Matt:

    I hope your essay was a thoughtful success. It sounds like you are well on your way to becoming a wise and creative adult.

    I agree with Jay Stevens that censorship is a form of social engineering. For example, I read in the local newspaper (I know - I am only mentioning one source, not good research) that as soon as the Bushian administration arrived in Washington DC, nude public statuary was draped! If not so sad, the "modesty" would be laughable.

    I hate to burst any artistic bubbles out there, but it seems to me that art reflects society rather than leads it. As one poster mentioned, art creates a record of even the dark corners of our society. Many governments fund the visual arts as a societal obligation to a create a complete record. Therefore, because many Americans are unhappy with some organized religions, it is going to be reflected in art - by crosses in urine or some other way. (Please remember that freedom OF religion also give us freedom FROM religion.)

    I have seen some of Maplethorpe's work, all of which I felt was beautiful. Even the homoerotic images are technically excellent and to a respectible segment of our population, they are as moving as an image of a heterosexual couple engaged in love making.

    Never forget, Matt, that our Constitution was forged by the Founders to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, in censorship as well as any number of topics we could mention.

    All the best, Julia
  58. Talking with a customer today. And we came to a resonable conclusion.

    Two points. If the government is going to pass out grants, in regard to the creation art, then the grants, as long as they're artistically orientated, the government at the point of the fund being established, should step out of the game as to who gets the money as art created by approval process, isn't really the intent and spirit of art.

    The second point we came to agreement on, is that the government has no business passing out grants in regard to the creation of art in the first place as art should succeed or fail on it's own merits.
  59. "...the government has no business passing out grants in regard to the creation of art in the first place as art should succeed or fail on it's own merits." I would like to agree with this statement,Jeffrey,and call myself a free market conservative too. The only trouble is that I would have to fairly extend this conservatism to other subsidized uses deemed by Congress useful to the public welfare,or the Common Good.(Or call painting and photography something much less) Let's see. Airlines. Farmers. Oil exploration. Livermore labs. National Institutes of Health. NASA. Federal Arts Project. Federal Writer's Project.(even during lean days,but produced a cornucopia).Public TV and Radio.(Corporation for Public Broadcasting.) Art is not a necessity,but a civilizing influence in a society. Often critical of the society. Yet subsidized often by the emperors,Kaisers, and the ruling class (a la the Medici family). So why can't art-experimental,non commercial art make it on its own? That would take another long thread. Experimental,reflectively critical of public behavior or government policy art is inherently not going to be Helms-proof. Counter culture stuff,sometimes shocking,is good for the welfare of the beast. We fund about.0005 of the national budget to promotion of culture and the arts (I made up the figure,but I could get it right if we need.) And once subsidized, of course the funder gets a say in what is too over the threshold. It is a compromise,of small consequence in the big scheme. But of value to we who call art our passion. Or pastime.
  60. Gerry wrote
    Let's see. Airlines. Farmers. Oil exploration. Livermore labs. National Institutes of Health. NASA.
    The one flaw, by including the above, is that the the public, at large, benefit directly and creating and protecting infrastructure is the purpose of taxation and government.
    In the case of airlines, shut airlines down and the world comes to a screeching halt as the world is now knocked back into the 20's and coal fired steam ships. As to farmers, yes there's reasonable question as to the subsidy programs but knock the farmers out of action, for what ever reason and your table will become barren real fast. Oil exploration, same thing, you take energy out of the equation and all mass transit stops in it's tracks as do delivery trucks, emergency vehicles as well as your automobile. Shall we discuss how quickly the combines will stop opperating without oil? NIH? You don't see general public benefit, for all people, in regard to monitoring health issues? NIH. Lawrence Livermore ties directly into the governments prime directive, like it or not, to look out for the protection of this country and it's very clear the Soviets and China were nuclear mortal enemies and rogue nations are breaking their banks to develop nuclear weapons for their use. N. Korea is a perfect example as Iran is also another current example. NASA might be suspect as I consider NASA a form of intellectual welfare but much good comes from the space station programs in regard to medical research, scientific research equipment development and metallurgy research. You may not like the shuttle program but it too is giving back monetarily in products that are created because of it's existance.
    The point of the above, there's a huge difference between looking out for the welfare of a nation, food, energy, transportation, space exploration, defense and health issues as opposed to putting a few clinkies in the pockets of a group of intellectual derelicts who can't make it on their own and need a hand out to survive with their failed art which lacks mass appeal.
    I'm in agreement with you and we may be saying the same thing. I just didn't see coupling the good which government provides with the nonsense the government provides, state supported art projects that goes against the grain of so many:)
  61. Thomas, you are funny. It is because the arts are lesser than the sciences that they need some help to stay alive.
  62. I just didn't see coupling the good which government provides with the nonsense the government provides, state supported art projects that goes against the grain of so many:)


    I see way more people pissed off at the huge waste of money on weapons programs than I do on government supported art!!!! As usual you totally exaggerate the situation. Just because you hold a grudge doesn't mean that the rest of the people do. If it "goes against the grain of so many" why don't we see protests? Why is this area not the main subject of local or state elections? Because most people have the common sense to see that even if they do not understand the art themselves, that there is value in supporting it. Government support of the arts is ubiquitous, not only in the US but in most countries in the world.
  63. Of course,what Sam says at the end.Noted also, It doesn't foster intelligent discussion to take a couple over- the- top "projects" that offended many people with redwood logs on their shoulder most of the time re so called artsy fartsy things, even some who consider themselves liberal (but ready to just plain put up with brazen for brazen sake),and use that as an overeaching argument to 'deep six' the National
    Endowment for the Arts. As this administration likes to say "Mend it,don't End It"(in another context). Also,it goes without saying,that what is acceptable in art funding changes with the culture we are dealing with. I gotta go now. Nice to chat,see ya. PS. Let's also support these here forums if we support the value they serve,however controversial and bickering the verbage may become at times...
  64. I know it is late. Still I wish to write my point of view on the initial question.

    1) The rights and the freedoms are about civilisation: the freedom of somebody has to stop when it cuts on the rights of somebody else. In other words, the rights are taking over the freedoms.

    2) Is art, as an expression of freedom, cutting on somebody else's rights? I know only a case when it does: the copyright, might it be another piece of art by another artist, or the subject in it (example: the person in a portrait). And this issue is a legal one, not a censorship.

    3) Anything else, that can bother some people, keeps only with offences. But offences have nothing to do with rights, just with feelings and morality. And here comes the censorship: to protect these feelings of individuals, and these moral values of a society, both in a certain place on the Earth, and at a certain moment in the history.

    The censorship did, does, and will never protect any rights!
  65. "The censorship did, does, and will never protect any rights!"

    Granted that English is not your first language, I think you have made a factual mistake here. Censorship, in most western countries, is used to protect the rights of people who may be insulted or demeaned by a work. For example, you would not be permitted to publish an anti-semitic novel in Britain, nor would you be allowed to put on a play which represented all Arabs as fanatical terrorists.

    In this way, censorship does protect rights.
  66. Of course, all I previously wrote are for democratic societies only. And yes Harvey, English is not my first language, but let me ask you something: is English the only language spoken in "western" countries, as your intervention suggests it? I should have write "did, do and will never?", sorry for the typo.

    As for what you say about censorship, protecting workers, Jews or Arabs rights (and dignity is one of these rights too), you make confusion: law protects them, not censorship. And low is not censorship! These things are under the first point in my previous intervention. I repeat, this happens in democratic countries only. And democratic countries are also at east of your home yard.
  67. My comment wasn't meant rudely, only as a preface. As someone who can't speak any other language I'm always impressed by those who can.

    What I was trying to suggest was that, because English is not your first language, perhaps you miss some of the subtleties. In this particular case, censorship is not something apart from the law but a facet of it. When you write that "law protects them, not censorship", you *are* factually incorrect. Censorship is the mechanism through which the law is applied. Inversely, you might equally well say that the existence of the law implies the existence of cencorship.

    Of course, in the UK the picture becomes more complicated because censorship is no longer as obvious as it was in the days when we had the 'Lord Chancellor's Regulations'. Now it is is the province of a patchwork of local authorities and Home Office regulations which are applied in many different ways and through many different mechanisms. I can't speak directly for other countries but I imagine that similar systems operate throughout Europe.
  68. Been down for a week...
    Tho's G.:
    Valid point, but of course I wouldn't be responding if their wasn't a "But...".
    I am, as I said, very much against censorship of any kind.
    As to museums setting up zones for 'offensive' art and others for 'tasteful' art, I'm just not buying it.
    Art is not an expression of 'taste' or 'class'.
    It is an expression of feelings and emotions.

    Exposure to the elements of what we deem offensive is as likeley to traumatize as it is to disgust, excite, educate or simply make one aware.

    Censorship is counter to free thought.
    Let's have some faith in our audience, they're capable of making thier own decisions. Even an 11 year old who decides "That's Gross!" is making a valid judgement that we needn't make for them.
  69. Censorship entirely depends on the taste of the executives.
    Bad taste will support bad art, good taste will suppot good art. Just look at this forum and ...... visit another place. Moderators here seem to be afraid of certain topics and yet they hang out everywhere and preach tolerance. .................. yaaaaawwwwwwn.
  70. >Censorship is counter to free thought. Let's have some faith in our audience, they're capable of making thier own decisions. Even an 11 year old who decides "That's Gross!" is making a valid judgement that we needn't make for them.<

    .... and once we are at it, let us throw away also education. Open the gates to all kind of influence. Sacrifice civilisation for stupidity. "An idiot hour can destroy what took centuries to build"
  71. Alexander wrote
    Censorship is counter to free thought.
    So where's the line? Should performing art include, in a museum, for all to freely see, on the main floor, some wanker walking the dog? We'll title his performance "A waste of human potential".
    When it comes to art, pushing the envelope is something that many will take poetic license with. Shall we have some bozo, cutting heads off of animals after they've been euthanized? We'll call the performance, "The Sound of the Master's Voice".
    How extremely insensitive towards people's sensitivities do artists have to get before even the shock jocks themselves, cry enough is enough, for all time. The point of my above two intentionally extreme examples are, when is it shocking art and at what point does it become necessary to again push the envelope so as to create shock again. How desensitized does humanity have to become to potential behavior before realizing that desensitization is what you're speaking of as opposed to reasonable segregation for the purpose of allowing one free choice whether or not they want their sensibilities assaulted.
    A little bit of thoughtfulness towards others isn't so much to ask for and yet doesn't prevent those who choose to, to get their sensibilities assaulted. It is possible to be thoughtful towards one group and not be restrictive (censoring) towards other.
  72. Oops, ya caught me!
    My entire spin was designed to rattle the foundations of our educational system and to promote lewd behavior in museums.
    Curses, foiled again!

    Get a grip.
  73. In Europe, in particular Germany, "art" is heavily subsidized. So they have a lot of art...
  74. Someone wrote: "I believe our Constitution refers to it as freedom of expression."

    Where in the Constitution of the US is this clause?

    Censorship is NOT a good thing. It is a repressive bully tactic. All speech is valid, fighting for acceptance in the realm of ideas. If it doesn't stand the light of day it dies out.
    Yes, you CAN yell 'fire' in a crowded theatre. You just have to pay the consequences after you do so. With freedom comes responsibility. Those who won't accept the responsibility don't deserve the freedom... they have WtheTush & Chicken Cheney to tell them what to think, when to think it & make all their decisions for them.
  75. Alexander Thompson wrote: "I went to a Mapplethorpe show at the ICA in Boston, years ago. The show was all over the news. Many were offended by the naked pensive boy photo, and the bullwhip up the butt photo. Many more were offended that these photo's were produced using an N.E.A. grant."

    Get your facts straight. Robert Mapplethorpe did NOT receive any funding from the NEA to produce the photos. The public funding was used by a gallery to finance a public exhibit. Jessie the Jackass Helms & others constantly lie about this one. It speaks volumes that after the passage of time they keep coming back to the same tired old "examples" of "public funding of obscenity", yet one of the main 'examples' is a lie.

    Produce anything you want, any way you want, just don't expect society to fund the showing of it. As far as private institutions, galleries & collectors, what they show or purchase is entirely their own decision.
  76. jbs


    Taking the argument of Gerry & Daniel and possibly others, with respect to public vs. private censorship, what side of the fence do you fall withrespect to cable or satellite programming. Ok to show gay porn on cable because you "opted" into the system? Or, have we decided that cable is now public even though we must pay for the service to a private company? ....J
  77. "Is censorship a valid form of protecting a groups sensitivities?"

    Since when is one of an American's inalienable rights the right to not be offended?
    Censorship in a "free" society is wrong. Period. Don't want to see Janet's boobie on TV? Turn the channel. Better yet, turn off the TV and read a book.
    The government isn't in the business of raising your children, nor should you want it to be. That's one of the great things about America - You can speak your mind, no matter how unpopular, and it's permitted (or at least it once was). Don't like my photos? Then don't come to my exhibit.
    I remember in 1989, there was a Mapplethorpe exhibit in D.C. (near my home). Every right-wing nazi with a free hand came to D.C. to wave a sign in protest. (Which is fine; that's there right).
    However, the problem I have with them is this: they didn't simply object to the exhibit. Their goal was to prohibit ANYONE from seeing it. That's wrong. Not in America.
    Also, when you get a chance, you should research Hitler's "degenerate" art show. Hitler put together a show of works he found offensive, and made a touring show to show all germans what they should find offensive. Most of those artists became (or already were) modern icons of art.

  78. jbs


    For good or bad the government IS in the business of raising your children. That is a FACT. Not a supposition. Speak your mind as much as you dare just be careful who you piss off. I'm not joking....J
  79. I know it is inevitable that discussions on a hot topic like censorship wander into all kinds of political philosophy. Censorship can be taken as oppressive government control and government funding can be seen as sponsorship of something avant garde or out of the mainstream. I myself could argue from any side and take both sides of any issue like this in the same paragraph. Which suggests to me that a statement that ANY restriction of public art or photo display is WRONG is too simplistic. Color it greyscale, guys and gals.... When we get into cases, art is not a free market thing,it can't survive in the free market,never really has. All symphonies,and artists had sponsors and all of the big sponsors have- shall we say "points of view"- not anywhere near mainstream,whatever that is.(Wife's hometown of Peoria maybe(?);I dunno,does anyone) Song lyrics,another thing hot these days, may not be played on the public airwaves without at least some involvement of the people that own the airwave frequencies (that is us) and we do it by an imperfect agency overseen by imperfect committees of elected reps... I don't know where I am leading my train of thought, except I see restriction as something to be very limited,and with a mechanism to challenge the restriction (all we have are the courts) for now. I get to see all the T and A and sadomasochism I want. And my e mail is filled with it. So,if anything,I tend to think the archconservative Helms crowd and the Falwell crowd are not having much influence in the field of popular culture. I mean,do they really scare anybody off, huh? If the NEA did not get any funding,we would have lost last night's Great Performance of Tchaikovsky 4th with Michael Tilson Thomas super commentary (catch it on DVD,electric showing). So, let us give the public funding of arts a break,please. What is the funding? What gets funded. Let us check it out like the gent above said. I do know this. Budget for such has fallen. Too many more armored vests calling for the national gross product,alas. Thank you for hearing out a rambling former New Englander (live free or die).
  80. "I believe in 'free speech' etc... but public funding for anything that only interests a small part of the public is another matter."

    What a perfect excuse to do away with so many elected officials.

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