Issue 106, Winter 2007/2008

  • The Michigan state legislature repealed its unconstitutional restrictions on arts funding to settle a federal lawsuit filed against it by the ACLU on behalf of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. The restrictions included a ban on funding art that contained "depictions of flag desecration" and "displays of sex acts." (see CN #104) The new guidelines for arts funding mirror those of the National Endowment for the Arts and state that "Artistic excellence and artistic merit are the criteria by which applications will be judged, taking into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the people of this state."
  • The school administration in Old Saybrook, CT cancelled a performance by the Al-Ghad Folklore Dancing Troupe of Palestine because parents claimed it was offensive to Israeli and Jewish sensibilities.
  • A show of collages made from American flags, two of them depicting George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, was under attack at the Kennebunk Free Library in Maine because it “desecrated” the flag and was "inappropriate for children." The library director claimed that the pieces violated “normative community standards” due to the Bush family’s connection to the area. After NCAC and others raised concerns, the library decided to go ahead with the show.
  • Three cartoons, part of an exhibition of student work at Montrose High School in Colorado, were torn off the wall by the school principal and vice-principals because they were deemed "indecent" and "promoting violence." You can view the cartoons and decide for yourself here.
  • The Olneyville Housing Corporation of Rhode Island rejected a set of trash cans, designed by Lu Heintz as part of a community improvement project, because of the text laser-cut into them. The short passages referred to gentrification, colonization, exploitation and displacement, telling the history of Olneyville from the point of view of the socially disadvantaged. You can see the full text here.
  • Lubbock, TX, city officials banned two drawings by Lahib Jaddo – one of a fully clothed breast-feeding mother and another of a pregnant nude – from a show in the city-run Buddy Holly Center. After protest from the ACLU and NCAC, Jaddo was reinvited to show her work.
  • Ever since the Catholic League called for a boycott of the movie version of The Golden Compass, calling it "anti-Christian," Philip Pullman’s book has been pulled and/or challenged at schools across the country. It was removed from the 6th grade English curriculum in Winchester, KY, but was reinstated after NCAC issued a statement to the review committee.
  • TopDog/UnderDog by Suzan-Lori Parks was almost razored out of a literary anthology assigned to AP English students at City High School in Grand Rapids, MI, because of "profanity." The anthology was kept intact, and in the classroom, after NCAC raised First Amendment concerns to the Superintendent and conducted outreach to local papers.