Freedom Of Expression - Our First Amendment Rights Are Threatened Essays

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What is art? Can it be defined in any single painting, or sculpture? Is it even something that can be seen, or does it have to be experienced? The term "art" is so vague that it can be applied to almost anything, really. Mostly, however, art should be that which frees our imagination. It connects our conscious with our subconscious, putting into a visual form what we feel and think. It allows us to explore our inner self and fill that urge to understand our minds and our universe. Art helps us to see beyond the ordinary, to see what is in our hearts without being blinded by reality. When an artist creates a painting, it is not to create a picture; it is to create a feeling or mood. The purpose is to convey an emotion, and, it is hoped, to make the viewer experience that same emotion. The painting is really just the final result. Picasso once said "…the thing that counts, in painting, is the intention of the artist…What counts is what one wants to do, and not what one does… In the end what was important is the intention one had."

So, what happens when artists are judged only on their final result, with no consideration to the purpose of their artwork? Censorship happens. That's right, every day in America, "Land of the Free", another artist falls victim to The Censor. Everyday, despite rights guaranteed by the constitution, people are being oppressed-by school officials, librarians, committee chairpersons, and even by those in government positions. It's time everyone, everywhere, stood up for Freedom of Expression, and put and end to censorship.

In September of this year, the Brooklyn Museum of Art planned an exhibit of British artwork entitled "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection", the controversial art exhibit which, on it's world tour, has been shown in Germany and England. The exhibit, as well as the majority of other artwork on display in the museum, was to be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is a government agency that grants federal money to artists and organizations in an attempt to serve the public good by "nurturing the expression of human creativity, supporting the cultivation of community spirit, and fostering the recognition and appreciation of the excellence and diversity of our nation's artistic accomplishments". The organization was prepared to ...

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...tation of New York City as a world-class center of art and culture. "The entire arts community should be grateful to Director Arnold Lehman and the BMA's Board of Directors for standing firm on the right of artists and museum-goers to make their own decisions without interference from the government," said Joan Bertin, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Censorship. "If the city chooses to fund the arts, it simply cannot pick and choose what art is 'offensive' and what is not."

In addition, "That judgment varies so widely and is so subjective that, if it were the test, publicly funded art institutions would likely have little of interest to offer beyond the most inoffensive and conventional art," Michelle Coffy, Program Director of the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, says. It is not appropriate to censor something based solely on a failure to understand and a personal dislike. In this case, the mayor and other critics may simply be revealing their own misinterpretation of the varied cultural and artistic traditions on which artists draw, having obviously misunderstood the whole point of art in the first place-expression.

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