June 12

Freedom Is Not Free

Posted by Brian

Barack Obama Assassination

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 President—played artfully by Richard Dryfus—seizes on their growing love affair as fodder for his attacks on “value” issues. For a long time Douglas’ character won’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 Douglas’ 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 democracy… 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/

Website: http://www.theassassinationofbarackobama.com/

Website: http://www.theassassinationofhillaryclinton.com/

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 artist’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 “community standards.” This is advanced democracy people, and free speech means that what is coming out of the mouth—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 it’s trash, and not to waste their time going to see it, or its insipid, vitriolic, talentless producer; now or ever!

Obama Assassination

Obama Assassination

Obama Assassination

Obama Assassination

Obama Assassination

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4 comments...What do you think?

  1. 4Avatars v0.3.1Posted by Brian 12th June, 2008 at 8:02 am

    I absolutely disagree that everything that is offensive and deragotory should be acceptable by simply saying free speech. I understand that it is a fine line to walk in protecting civil liberties, but to see the pictures of the attempted Art display, that is far from art. Not sure what’s artsy about creating a picture of Barack Obama’s children with the caption of Nappy Headed Ho’s. If that is art, then we have made the standard far too low for what we deem as creative.
    I am all for protecting free speech and expression, but not in a veiled advertising campaign for the assassination of the possible next president and then calling it art. It should not have been taken down because it should have never been put up.

  2. 4Avatars v0.3.1Posted by Inf 12th June, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I am a proponent of free speech like I assume most people are when presented with that question but there are always boundaries and guidelines for the people concerning our country’s laws Where is the boundary or line for this attempt at free speech because in my mind this person crossed it a mile ago. The thought of Barack Obama being assassinated resonates heavily in a lot of African-American minds. We think it and sometimes speak it amongst each other but never on such a public platform. I am appalled that this is even considered art and it begs the question what constitutes something as art? Would I be an angry black man if I set up an exhibit with photos of this artist being beat down and titled it “The ass whopping of Yazmany” or would that be considered art? It’s flat out disgusting and I’m a little tired of the free speech card in circumstances like this. I have a hard time calling Soulja Boy’s music art now we have to face this. Amazing.

  3. 4Avatars v0.3.1Posted by Shak 12th June, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I take a different view of this subject. If you go to the website for both exhibits you can read the press release for each exhibit. The artist purports to satirize all of the stereotypes and criticisms that each candidate faced from traditional society. The artist takes myths, stereotypes, pop culture controversies, and racist caricatures and puts them on display for people to look at really think about their subconscious prejudices. I think free speech is a wonderful feature of our great country and I think art is definitely open to interpretation, but these displays are about character assassination and I think the artist hit the nail on the head with these. The artists takes what some folks in society believe but don’t express and puts them on blast.

  4. 4Avatars v0.3.1Posted by Stevie Wonder Disappointed in NAS | openentrance.com 27th June, 2008 at 10:08 am

    [...] be an artist. I’ve seen far worse things over the past months-pics and murals entitled “The Assasination of Barack and Hillary Clinton“, Don Imus rants, Police beating the hell out of black kids on national tv. My hands are in [...]