About every six months or so, probably more often and just not reported, some municipality or conservative organization insists that a piece of art, depicting human form, be removed from public display. Usually, even if the opinion that the piece is offensive is of the minority, it's easier just to remove or cover the art than it is to deal with the headache of those opposed, who would mostly likely continue to voice their opposition for the remainder of the exhibit, which is their right to do.
But what about the free speech of the artist? I know the argument is that the artist has every right to create whatever he chooses, but that it ought not to be forced upon those who do not wish to view it. Why can't those who wish not to see it merely ignore it? Like any other kind of self expression, which truly is what art is, "if you don't like it, you can choose not to look at it." Isn't that what people say when religious or holiday displays are asked to be removed from one's lawn or place of worship? It is not as if artists insist on putting their art on an individual's private property who wishes not to have it.
The right of free speech is the right of everyone in this country. Absolutely then, those opposed to some forms of public art have every right to speak their opposition, but they do not have veto power of the artist's same rights.
The opposition often states the art of the human form is inappropriate for children. Why not take the opportunity to teach children the beauty of the human form? For those with objections based on religion, is the human form not the creation of God? For those of the Christian faith, were Adam and Eve ashamed of their nudity as God created them? The answer is no, not until Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree of Life. Shouldn't we teach to be proud of our bodies, not ashamed?
It's no secret poor body image is cause to a number of problems facing today's youth, especially girls, such as low self-esteem, giving in to peer pressure, and no self-respect. Like an avalanche, these lead to undesirable behavior with even greater consequences. So couldn't it be argued that the lack of discussion about the body and censorship of art of the human form, which is an implication of shame, is having the exact effect on our young people that the censors are trying to prevent?
I think this discussion could go significantly deeper than there is room for in a blog, but I am fascinated by both sides of the argument. Personally , I think free speech is free speech. The artist has the right to speak through his art, and those opposed have a right to voice their opposition. If nothing else, at least it keeps us discussing it, and much can be learned through dialogue.
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