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Posted at 10:03 PM ET, 12/30/2010

No 'censorship' of Smithsonian video

By Carol A. Jackson, Gaithersburg

I have followed the controversy over the video at the National Portrait Gallery [letters, Dec. 28] with great interest, particularly the suggestion that by removing the film the Smithsonian Institution was encouraging censorship and that we are now on some kind of slippery slope toward government censorship of art.

I’m not sure yet what kind of slippery slope we are on. It is my understanding that the artwork was removed from the Smithsonian but then made available to the public in a different venue, which as far as I know has not been shut down by the government nor surrounded by angry mobs demanding that the artwork be removed.

The Post recently published a lengthy commentary by Philip Kennicott decrying the decision and demanding that those responsible step down. The Post ran a clip of the video at issue, making it much more widely available to the public than it would have been in a somewhat obscure exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery.

The Post does not appear to have suffered any ill effects from its decision to publish this commentary or video; the government has not shut it down nor was it the subject of angry demonstrations along the lines of what we witnessed after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons (which we all know The Post steadfastly declined to publish). The artists appear to have been able to create their artwork free from persecution, as opposed to Salman Rushdie, who was the target of a fatwa, or Theo van Gogh, who was murdered for making a movie.

It certainly appears to me that the only people keeping the controversy going are those who opposed the decision. From where I’m sitting, dissent appears to be alive and well.

By Carol A. Jackson, Gaithersburg  | December 30, 2010; 10:03 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, National Mall, arts  
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But Ms Jackson makes no attempt to give any rational justification for the decision. She makes no attempt to defend it. She does not appear to understand that some decisions should be opposed on principle if, indeed, she has any.

She simply says, "So what?"

Posted by: lensch | December 31, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

The writer's logic is so scrambled that not even her ability to write can rescue it. Despite her verbal artistry, she has perpetrated a logical affront similar to gilding a fewmet. Doesn't matter how many coats she gives it or how much she polishes it.

Also, why is the WaPo treating this as a letter to the editor in the print version while giving it what looks like a blogger byline and blog-style page? Is this person affiliated with the WaPo or not? Is this an outsider letter or an insider blog? Who can tell anymore.

Posted by: laboo | December 31, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Poor Carol evidently has never visited an exhibition. She's probably never even left the mindless suburbs. Okay. I wonder if excising a page from Carol's current comic book, or snipping a segment of her Fox News television – available elsewhere, with no continuity – would cause her to notice. Oh, right. I see. It really wouldn't. Nor would history textbooks from Virginia. Never mind. Keep up the Republican parade of thought!

Posted by: SydneyP | December 31, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Ms Jackson makes a valid point. The government not subsidizing so-called "art" is NOT censorship. She gives several examples of this same piece freely displayed and distributed through news and other media without any attempt at suppression.

When federal funds are used to subsidize Mohamed portraits, then they can subsidize "art" offensive to Christians.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | December 31, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

There is really no controversy here. Almost everyone who is not mentally challenged or sexually disoriented agrees that the "art" in discussion is reprehensible garbage that should never have been forced into public display, in the first place.

Only the sick minds of deviant ghouls could really enjoy the kind of "art" defended by the likes of Phillip Kenicott.

The stuff belongs at the bottom of the deepest landfill in America. It is cultural poison and intellectual rot.

Case closed!

Posted by: battleground51 | December 31, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Let me get this lady's logic straight. The Smithsonian Institution, a government entity, arbitrarily removed an art work from a major exhibition because the usual right wing hypocrites and idiots demanded it, yet, this somehow doesn't constitute censorship because it's available on YouTube or something stupid like that and because people are able to voice their opposition then that makes it perfectly okay and so freedom is alive an well and there's not a thing to be concerned about. This is the same brilliant mentality that enabled tyrants like Hitler to rise to power.

Posted by: vztownes | December 31, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

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