Cultural historians often ask how the preoccupations of an era shape a society. And the best insights are revealed, not through the clarity of connection, the union of expression or the dominant ideology, but through the chaos and rupture caused by the dissenting voice. It is often when an artist is most at odds with his or her world, most subject to critical debate, that we glimpse the dominant values of society, giving way to the cultural conscience of the time. "One of the artist's and humanist's greatest value to a society is in the mirror of self-examination which they raise so that society can become aware of its short-comings as well as its strengths," stated the 1965 Senate Report on the establishment of the National Endowments of the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) (Childs, 2). This is the artist's job, to make us, all of society, think about who we are and who we are becoming.
Art, just like any other production of public discourse, is there to persuade us to look at our lives and to act accordingly. And despite the fact that they might not explicitly say what our course of action should be, they will tell us through their brushstrokes, sculpting or lyrics. Likewise, the artist creates a bond with the beholder in expressing his or her most intimate beliefs, and at looking, hearing or seeing the artist's work, we are immediately connected. We feel what the artist feels. With that, how can an artists reveal us his innermost thoughts, feelings and desires, if the work is first dismantled and then reassembled because some third party feels that the artist's message or method of "speaking" to us is unfit. Some people feel government has a right to step in between the artist and spectator to de...
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... License: Censorship and the Visual Arts. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.
Fisher, Taylor; Andromeda Hartwick; Barrie Jo McQuary; Jody Riskowski. Questionnaire to 33 respondants via the World Wide Web. October 14 - 17, 2001.
Hull, Mary E. Censorship in America: A Reference Handbook. Contemporary World Studies. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1999.
Johnson, Cheryl. Personal Interview. 10 October 2001.
Cheryl is the mother of two children, a girl age 3 and a boy age 8.
Johnson, O. Thomas. Personal Interview. 10 October 2001.
Nunzum, Eric. "A Brief History of Banned Music in the United States." Banned Music. December 2000. 28 September 2001 < http://ericnuzum.com/banned/>
Glasser "Freedom of Expression in the Arts and Entertainment." ACLU Briefing Paper. June 2001. 29 September 2001 <www.aclu.org/freedom/art/14>
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