The Long and the Short of It Spring 2011
- LA MOCA’s new director, Jeffrey Deitch, ordered a mural commissioned by the museum whitewashed within hours of its creation because of fear that its anti-war message would offend the museum’s neighbors: a Veteran Hospital and a memorial to Japanese-American soldiers.
- A Department Of Education “Dear Colleague” letter on bullying worries First Amendment advocates because of its expansive definition of verbal harassment and the suggestion that schools may be liable for damages if they don’t police student expression.
- Marin County officials removed a painting of a nude from the Civic Center because of an employee’s complaint that the piece created a “hostile work environment.” Reminded of both their First Amendment responsibilities and the fact that this didn’t come close to meeting the definition of a hostile work environment, they invited the nude back.
- In April, Andres Serrano’s photograph, Piss Christ, which was the subject of congressional attacks in the late 1980s, was vandalized in Avignon, France.
- NCAC co-sponsored a symposium at the Corcoran Gallery and College of Art called Culture Wars: Then and Now, to discuss the historical place of the Smithsonian Hide/Seek controversy and to suggest future responses to similar incidents. NCAC also organized a panel on the role of religion in both producing and suppressing art for the 2011 College Art Association Conference.
- Facebook receives ever larger numbers of complaints for its removal of artwork, including globally recognized masterpieces, containing nudity. Its policy regarding art remains arbitrary.
- The student newspaper at La Salle University defied school administrators’ instructions to run a story involving a University investigation that had already been covered in the local press “below the fold”. The Collegian hit the stands with a blank top half, save for tiny print instructing readers to see below.
- In March, NCAC wrapped up another successful film contest for the Youth Free Expression Project. This year’s winners were Aaron Dunbar (First Place for “Hare Tactics: When Free Speech Goes Too Far”), Sarah Phan and Lyndi Low (2nd Place, “Malediction”), and Evangline Fachon and Lindsay Tomasetti (3rd Place, “Static”). The theme for the next film contest will be Censorship Bytes! Speech In Cyberspace.
- Gov. Paul LePage ordered the removal of the History Of Maine Labor mural from the state Dept. of Labor office in late March, saying it portrayed a bias against business interests. Six regular visitors to the building have sued for its reinstatement.
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