The Censorship Of Art

.. so many different people. So how can the government decide what the public wants to see? It has more to do with what the government does not want the public to see. The government is afraid people will see new controversial art and think a thought or two and realize what a laughingstock life has been made due to the need for control. On the National Coalition Against Censorship web site in an article The Long and Short of It, the article reads: ” Mayor Giulianis reaction to the Sensation exhibit stimulated a satirical installation from artist Hans Haacke, now on display at the Whitney Museum of Art Biennial Exhibit in New York.

The provocative artwork, Sanitation, links the current culture wars to the banning of “degenerate” art in Munich in 1937. It displays the text of the First Amendment along with quotations in Nazi-style script from Patrick Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Jesse Helms and Mayor Giuliani and is surrounded by garbage cans blaring the sounds of marching troops. So far the controversy over Sanitation has not evoked a peep from Mayor Giuliani.” The fact of the matter is that the mayor will not have anything to say he has already lost the battle. Federal Court Judge Nina Gershon stated in the article When the Mayor and the Constitution Collide, “There is no federal constitutional issue more grave than the effort by government officials to censor works of expression.. to abide by government demands for orthodoxy.” Why should the nation have to harmonize to the morals of the government? The fact of the matter is the nation should not have to conform to the governments morality.

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The government, in this manner, has violated the god given right of choice in order to quell the voices of objectivity and maintain its all-powerful reign. The Church has tried to extinguish the voices of artists for centuries. With the exhibit SENSATION the Church had petitions at 36 congregations all over Staten Island to close the museum, cut the funding, and for the board to resign. The petition read, “To allow the display of a painting of an obvious desecration of a saint we Catholics hold so high in our reverence is unspeakable.” It went on to say “if you and the board of directors see this as art and insist on displaying it, then we call for your resignation and the board members immediately.” Monsignor Peter G. Finn who organized the 36 parishes on Staten Island to post the petitions in their churches said in an interview that appeared in the Staten Island Advance, “We dont want to fund a museum that attacks religion.

Especially if on the walls of the institution has the names of Isaiah, Jeremiah, St. Peter and St. Paul is a mockery of the intent of the place.” Now one must realize this is the Church demanding for a board of directors of one of the most highly regarded museums in the world to resign. Who do they think they are? God? Performance artist Karen Finley, dramatized the plight of women by appearing on stage naked and covered with melted chocolate in 1990, was denied money because her performance helped spur debate over how the NEA hands out money. “She and three other artists were excluded from NEA grants in 1990 because the NEA holds grants to a “general standard of decency.”” So said the article on CNNs web site Supreme Court studies federal funding of art- March 31, 1998.

If the church is so offended then why is it that the Christian Coalition and the NEA fund hardcore pornography? The NEA has admitted to this in the article Christian Coalitions stand on the Arts that appears on the Christian Coalition web site that reads: “..Over the years, the NEA has funded and continues to fund materials that are indeed hardcore pornography. Some examples include “art” that promotes lesbianism for 12 year old girls, brother/sister team rape of a younger sister, the sexual torture of a male prostitute, and such well-known examples as photos of a crucifix submerged in urine and a play depicting Christ as a homosexual.” So much for a “general standard of decency”. The play this refers to is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which had a run on Broadway and a national touring company, but it was not posted all over the news and CNN. Thank God this society is not in 399 BC, when the philosopher Socrates was put to death for undermining the beliefs in the gods and corrupting the morals of the young. If it were new radical ideas and opinions about religion would carry with them an electric chair.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith recently released his new film entitled DOGMA. The movie is about a young woman who is Jesus Christs distant niece in modern times and has to save the world from two fallen angels who want to get back into heaven. In order to do so they would have to disobey God. Since God is infallible this would prove everything false including the existence of the world. Hence the end of the world and all creation gets sucked into a big black hole.

The movie includes a black 13th apostle, and a woman plays God. The fanatical Church was offended by this movie. The Catholic League, a lay group with 350,000 members and an intimidating letterhead, had pressured the Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary Miramax Films to drop DOGMA. People protested outside movie theatres with signs that read: stop desecrating our god now.

“Every week I go to church,” says Kevin Smith in an article on TIME on the web “and sooner or later the priest makes a joke! How come a priest can mix religion and jokes, but if I do it, I’m anti-Catholic?” One should wonder if those same people protest outside of the theatres of the porn movies that their Catholic Coalition supports and funds. Well these people have more versions of their so-called concrete bible than china has egg rolls. So it is no wonder they are confused. In an interview on with Elizabeth Castelli the Professor of Religion, at Barnard College she states how the Bible is used for control purposes. She said “the Bible is a fragmentary record that was written by various religious communities..texts in the Bible were also written with the explicit goal of persuading their audiences into accepting a particular point of view.” So the Bible has some mumbo-jumbo in it in order to maintain control over what people think, say, and do. The Church sticks beliefs to followers minds that have doubt.

When one expresses that doubt the Church then tries to put down ones expression to support control. What censorship is really about is the control of our new ideas and opinions that undermine the supremacy of religion or the state. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Once said French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The “chains” being the qualifying factors government or the church set on the rights and freedoms people have. We are supposed to have rights independent of any government intervention.

Over the years our right to have freedom of speech has proven to be frivolous and impertinent to the two dominant institutions of the modern world. Furthermore the nations revered Bill of Rights has been kicked to the curb by the government and the Church for many years. Neither the government nor the Church has the right to interdict material that can be injurious to their faith or morals. What if every civil rights speaker were required by law to include the views of the Ku Klux Klan in their speeches? Every statement one believed to be true would be worthless while being undercut by falsehood. “The nation is quickly becoming a country of cowards and bullies. Our politicians are unable or unwilling to defend the rights embodied in the constitution..” Says H.G. Hovagimyan. Fear that new ideas will bring strong opinions that speak out opposing views and take away some control from the Church and government disgust and fury these two institutions.

We as a society have the choice to see, hear, and read controversial books, music, movies, and art. Neither governmental tyranny nor the Churchs intimidation should abridge that choice.