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Free Art Expression but Forced Taxes

August 14, 1993

Christopher Knight loses credibility when he trots out the old First Amendment bugaboo, censorship ("Some Words of Advice for NEA Nominee Jane Alexander," Aug. 9). Among the vast majority of art lovers, there is no desire to suppress artistic expression in whatever form it takes, but allowing freedom to express is vastly different from forcing patrons (taxpayers) to subsidize any art that they find offensive.

Funding all "art" with government money leads to the situation that prevails in Holland, where the government warehouses are constipated with unappreciated and unbought "art." The art community, which enjoys the benefits of a free-market economy in every other aspect of their lives, should join the ranks of those who prevail in an open economy, where better mousetraps are readily purchased.

A fundamental of censorship is the selection and exclusion of matter and ideas that are not acceptable to those in charge. Surely whoever is in charge at the NEA must exercise some selection (censorship?) in decisions for funding.

Knight's piece is clearly not well reasoned when he drags in the recent Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) affair, which was pure politics and had nothing to do with art or the NEA.

Also, to suggest that President Bush placed "spies" in the NEA shows an imagination worthy of anyone in the art community. The "spies" in the whole question of art funding were clearly the public, and they did not approve of much that was decided by those in charge at the NEA.


Dana Point

Knight's treatise encourages Alexander to disregard a "culture war, revved up by conservatives on the religious right." And yet, there are many who feel that the arts community needs to be a part of the culture war against teen pregnancy and teen abortion rates, increased births to unmarried women, increased juvenile violent crime, drug use, etc. Many people feel the arts community has led the way or abetted many of these negative developments.

My hope for Jane Alexander is that she will bring balance to the NEA--which presupposes standing at times against the wildly liberal left who say, "Anything goes."



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