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NEA Guidelines for Artists

November 11, 1990

I was pleased to read that the National Endowment for the Arts voted down attempts by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to impose new restrictions on the content of artistic work.

The amendment by Helms that would have prohibited the NEA from funding work that depicts "in a particularly offensive way explicit sexual or excretory activities" is against the spirit of the Constitution. God gave us the power to think for ourselves and the Constitution gave us the right to express those thoughts freely. Helms is trying to take those powers and rights away. The American system is based on each individual being able to decide what is right for himself, not a select few individuals forcing their beliefs on the rest of the nation.

I hope the NEA has the good sense to eliminate the third part of Helms' bill that prohibits NEA support of work that "denigrates the objects or beliefs of the adherents of a particular religion." By doing this it will send a message to the Jesse Helmses of the world that they can't act as the moral guardians of America. Helms cannot decide what is offensive to a whole nation. He only knows what is offensive to himself, and what is offensive to him might be considered great art by someone else.

STEVEN WEINSTOCK

Van Nuys

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