NPR, Smithsonian running scared as the Republican t-AXE man cometh

It’s becoming fun to watch the taxpayer funded arts, entertainment and ‘news’ entities in this country run scared from what they believe will be the Republican axe come January.

Right on the heels of the firing of Juan Williams and the public demands to cut tax dollars to NPR, several weeks ago PBS cut a segment of Tina Fey’s acceptance speech at the Kennedy Center. (You can watch the entire thing here, but her disparaging comments about Sarah Palin and conservative women starts at around 12 minutes.)

“And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women – except, of course –those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape ‘kit ‘n’ stuff,” Fey said. “But for everybody else, it’s a win-win. Unless you’re a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years – whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know – actually, I take it back. The whole thing’s a disaster.”

This week, the Smithsonian followed the Corporation for Public Broadcasting lead by putting the cabosh on part of it’s homoerotic exhibit “Hide and Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.”

As a warning, this is extremely disturbing and graphic, both sexually and violently. I was hesitant to post it. But this is what Christians, the general public and children can see at the National Portrait Gallery:

Bowing to pressure from the Catholic League and fears of cuts in tax funding by the Republicans, the powers at the National Portrait Gallery (part of the Smithsonian Institution) have pulled an “art video” depicting an image of Christ on the cross, covered in ants. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League calls this hate speech (a term I personally hate) that is meant to offend and insult Christians. Congressman John Boehner’s spokesman, Kevin Smith, called this exhibit a “misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

“American families have a right to expect better from recipients of taxpayer funds in a tough economy,”  Smith said. “While the amount of money involved may be small, it’s symbolic of the arrogance Washington routinely applies to thousands of spending decisions involving Americans’ hard-earned money.”

In defense of it’s decision to display this homoerotic exhibit, the National Gallery is quick to point out that the $750,000 in funding came from private donations, not taxpayer dollars. But if the gallery itself, which IS funded by taxes and the employees that are also paid with that same money, didn’t exist, neither would this exhibit.

Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute and a former senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, told CNSNews.com, “If the Smithsonian didn’t have the taxpayer-funded building, they would have no space to present the exhibit, right? In my own view, if someone takes taxpayer money, then I think the taxpayers have every right to question the institutions where the money’s going.” (CNSNews.com)

Keep in mind that this exhibit is open to the public and in fact,  the National Gallery had a family weekend this fall, encouraging parents to bring their children and engage in hands on activities after their tour. (As an aside, this does give new meaning to the term “hands on.”)

This is part of what children got to see:

Another piece in the exhibit is a 1994 photograph (from a triptych) entitled “Brotherhood, Crossroads, Etcetera” by Lyle Ashton Harris. The “Hide/Seek” catalog says that Harris created the piece in collaboration with his brother, Thomas Allen Harris.

“In this provocative center image, the brothers exchange a passionate kiss as Thomas presses a gun into Lyle’s chest–conjuring the original biblical story of Cain’s treachery toward his brother, Abel,” states the catalog description (p. 265) of the piece. (also from CNSNews.com)

I’ve taken my kids to countless exhibits and museums over the years. They’ve had the privilege to see Picasso, Michelangelo and Rembrandt, as well as many other great artists. Really, I don’t have a problem with this stuff. I take that back, I do have a problem with this stuff, now that I’ve seen that video. This is more outrageous and disturbing than I first thought.

I do not advocate censorship, except where it pertains to my parental rights. As a parent, I have the right of censorship over what my young kids saw, heard and read. And I chose to pay for what they saw, heard and read.

The distinction here is that I am paying for art that I do not want to pay for: art that I would not want my kids to be exposed to: art that, in the words of Donohue, I find offensive and insulting.  And why is it okay to insult Christians? The liberal art cliche would never be exhibiting art that is offensive to Muslims – mainly out of fear of physical harm and not because it’s simply inappropriate, immoral and unacceptable.  And why do this during the Christmas season?

I do think that Bill Donohue is on to something here. As much as I hate the term “hate speech” because it smacks of censorship that I think should only be limited to individual choices and not government intervention, this is the way to fight this kind of thing. Again, this is an insulting and offensive exhibit to a great many American taxpayers, including me and this is not where I choose to spend my money.

Tax payer funded institutions like the Smithsonian and NPR, are not in a position to decide what is acceptable and appropriate to the public – the public makes that decision because the public is funding them. If they want the freedom to exhibit whatever they want – pornographic, anti-Christian, whatever – then they should not be funded by the American people. There is plenty of private funding out there that they can secure.

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9 responses to “NPR, Smithsonian running scared as the Republican t-AXE man cometh

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