Saturday, December 11, 2010

Censorship and Art

This week I am going to post two links regarding the recent censorship issues at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. The full story can be read here.
An official Q and A put up as a result of all the protesting can be read here.

As a general rule I am opposed to censorship. There must be guidelines on what is, and what is not acceptable artful expression. For example animal cruelty or child pornography would clearly fall under the category of unacceptable.

But far too often, as in this most recent case, the public has rejected expression based on emotion rather than sound thought or judgment. Most of the protesters have probably not even seen the video in question, and are basing their opinions on the ideas of one perspective. Many of the protesters stated that they did not want their tax money supporting this type of expression, despite the fact that this exhibition was put together with private funds. The core issue here is the development of an informed opinion.

I will add as a christian and a Catholic I can understand the protesters viewpoint, but I believe it to be misguided. First: there could be a whole variety of interpretations of the ants on the crucifix, and not just the negative anti-Christian views expressed. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this is not that different than the bible story of the golden calf. If we confuse our faith relationship with God and the icons that represent those relationships, then our belief is not really based on anything. Our individual relationship with God is what matters, not the physical objects and imagery associated with that relationship.