Freedom Is Not FreePosted by Brian
One of my favorite movies is the American President. In it, Michael Douglas plays a fictitious Democratic President. He is a widower and single father. He meets and starts to date a Washington lobbyist played by Annette Bening. They begin dating and a Republican Senator wanting to be Presidentâ€”played artfully by Richard Dryfusâ€”seizes on their growing love affair as fodder for his attacks on â€œvalueâ€ issues. For a long time Douglasâ€™ character wonâ€™t respond to the attacks; but finally he does. In doing so the writers put together what I think to be one of the best explanations about Democracy that I have ever heard. In a spur-of- the-moment press conference Douglasâ€™ character talks about our living in a country in which one who truly believes in the idea of democracy must rise to defend the right of free speech for someone who is making statements at the top of their lungs that which the defender would shout at the top of his lungs to oppose. He goes on to say that we live in an advanced democracy, and to live here one has to want the ideals of democracyâ€¦ badly. Wow.
Yesterday I friend of mine from college, sent me this:
NY Times Cityroom Blog: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/04/police-shut-down-assassination-art-exhibition/
She stated that she was extremely offended by these displays and especially the one relating to Senator Obama. I share her sentiment. I too am offended by the insinuations portrayed by the artistâ€™s vision. I too am aghast at the image of nooses hanging randomly in the exhibit. I too am disgusted by the image of a black penis stretching across three of the four walls in a room. It makes me angry; it makes me not want to patronize the artist. It makes me want to encourage others to withhold their support and patronage as well. It does not make me want to see it forcibly removed under the guise of its being offensive to â€œcommunity standards.â€ This is advanced democracy people, and free speech means that what is coming out of the mouthâ€”or in this case the visual representation of the mind– of the artist, can at times be distasteful to you or I. We have to want it badly! I want Danny Simmons to be able to portray the last supper with a Black Man as Jesus Christ and not have it removed from museums because the Mayor of NYC finds it offensive. I want freedom and security without having to sacrifice one for the other because as Thomas Jefferson stated, when we do that we truly have neither. Art, and opinions can be offensive, but thank God we live in a country where the same inalienable rights that allow this artist to produce and display something as distasteful as this, allows me to rise and write publicly to defend his right to display it, and my right to tell people that itâ€™s trash, and not to waste their time going to see it, or its insipid, vitriolic, talentless producer; now or ever!