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Some Limits to Unfettered Access

June 08, 1990

Re Joseph Bell's May 5 column: "Time to Speak Out Against Censors" perpetuates the idea than an apparent jurisdictional dispute at Fullerton's Muckenthaler Cultural Center is a case of blatant censorship. The wisdom of removing the work in question, a photo of a nude John Lennon, on the basis of not conforming with the theme of the show may be open to question. It is not, however, censorship any more than is failure to publish every letter to the editor. The outrage expressed by photographer Annie Leibovitz and others may be understandable but hardly unbiased. Pressure to display a work is as objectionable as pressure to suppress it.

We should vigorously oppose any form of censorship: the denial of our right to freely express ourselves and make our own decisions on what to read, see or hear. But maintaining that right does not confer unfettered access to every forum of expression. The recent Contemporary Arts Center fracas in Cincinnati (also referred to in Bell's column) was censorship. The one in Fullerton was not. Elevating every controversy over suitability into a charge of censorship seems like a poor way to defend freedom.

GORDON W. NEAL,

Huntington Beach

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