Issue 90, Summer 2003

  • Once again, voices of protest are getting through. In response to wide public objections to the FCC new rules that allow media conglomerates to expand, Congress is taking action to rollback the FCC’s move (click here for NCAC’s action alert). A bipartisan group of legislators appears likely to prevail in preventing more media concentration in fewer hands.
  • The White House is trying to duck discussion of environmental policies by deleting references to global warming from an Environmental Protection Agency report. When criticized for censoring sections that referred to threats to human health and the environment from man-made pollutants and to the sharp increase in global temperatures in the past decade, the Administration dodged discussion of current research studies, claiming that the issues merit more research.
  • Remember the T-shirt with the message, Peace on Earth, that got its wearer, Stephen Downs, arrested at an Albany, NY shopping mall? Not only were the charges dropped: the T-shirt now has a place of honor in the New York State Museum in Albany.
  • In June, Cincinnati, OH, home of obscenity charges against a museum exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe, bustled with NCAC-sponsored activities highlighting the importance of free expression, starting with a panel at the opening of the new Contemporary Arts Center. Local and national anti-censorship activists took part in A Forum on Freedom of Artistic Expression while religious groups were protesting the Theater Tribe’s production of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi. The production, in spite of being the target of 10,000 critical letters, played to sold out houses. NCAC also worked with Los Angeles artist Linda Pollack to bring My Daily Constitution, a series of open-ended discussions on constitutional principles, to Cincinnati cafes, bars, libraries and other informal venues. Cincinnatians, in turn, were inspired to continue the discussions. The week ended with a screening of the documentary the nea tapes and a discussion on local funding for the arts.
  • In South Carolina, a production of Arthur Miller’s 1972 play, The Creation of the World and Other Business, a dramatic comedy based on a non-traditional interpretation of the Book of Genesis, was canceled by Greenville Technical College, after a complaint about the play’s content. NCAC and PEN American Center both sent letters of protest.
  • The Executive Summary of the Free Expression Policy Project’s new report, Free Expression in Arts Funding: A Public Policy Report, states: “the ability to make challenging art that can explore all facets of the human condition, including unpleasant ones, is essential to a vibrant culture and a healthy democracy.” The report surveys free expression policies among state arts agencies and a sample of local agencies. It interviews agency officials on their procedures for anticipating and handling controversy and includes recommendations for preserving and strengthening artistic freedom in the funding process. The report is available online at To order free bulk copies, contact [email protected].