July 31, 2009

Hopefully, new NEA grants for morally offensive ‘art’ are an aberration, not a return to by-gone days of NEA profligacy


NEW YORK (Jul. 31, 2009) – Yesterday, Foxnews.com (“Stimulus Funds Go to Art Houses Showing ‘Pervert’ Revues and Underground Pornography”) reported that the National Endowment for the Arts  had spent Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to support “nude simulated sex dances…‘pervert’ revues and the airing of pornographic horror films at art houses in San Francisco.”

Morality in Media President Robert Peters commented:

“It would be unrealistic and unwise to oppose all NEA funding for art projects that would offend someone.  For example, just as any art that conveys a positive message about religion will offend some Americans, so any art that conveys a positive message about homosexuality will offend others.

“But does that mean that NEA should have no standards?  Does it mean the NEA should have no standards when it comes to offending moral conservatives but high standards when it comes to the risk of offending ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives?’  Does it mean that the NEA must be as foolish as some ‘artists’ who confuse (ignore the difference between) ‘message’ with genuine artistic quality?

“The Foxnews.com story quotes an NEA spokeswoman as saying that the grants would help ‘preserve jobs in danger of going away or that had gone away because of the economic downturn.’  Perhaps I am missing something, but every NEA grant helps provide jobs.

“By this logic, it would be OK for Congress to subsidize strip joints in Rhode Island that hire ‘performers’ under 18.  After all, it is now legal to do so in RI, and young girls do need jobs.

“Furthermore, in 1990 Congress amended the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act to require the Chairperson of the NEA to ensure that ‘artistic excellence and artistic merit are the criteria by which [grant] applications are judged, taking into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public.’

“The Supreme Court upheld that amendment, and to my knowledge the new Democrat controlled Congress has not yet repealed it.  Nor has Congress enacted legislation permitting the NEA to ignore the amendment, as long as funds go to provide jobs for political supporters.”

Author: Morality in Media   07/31/2009

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