Sunday, September 18, 2005


The Patriot act is only an act; a burlesque show with no-neck, brown-shirt thugs dressed up as guardians of freedom. The other day, as though to mock national Constitution Day the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay decided to pull some student art from their gallery show entitled “Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin.” To anyone who has looked at art in the last 25 years, it won’t seem all that outrageous or out of the main stream, nor will they find any dead animals or elephant dung associated with Brandtner’s entry.

The piece in question is a sheet of mock postage stamps by artist Al Brandtner showing President Bush with a gun pointed at his head and captioned Patriot Act. One can take the image many ways: that Bush is committing political suicide, for one, but the Government doesn’t want to take the risk of letting anyone think unauthorized thoughts. In early April when the item was featured in an exhibit at Columbia College in Chicago, Secret Service agents attended the opening to inspect Brandtner’s work. To those of us involved in campus vigils for peace in the 60’s, it seems like deja vu. To those few who remember the art scene in 1930’s Germany, perhaps it’s a small reminder as well.

Of course this may be Brandtner’s big break, since it’s drawing nationwide attention to his work, but if the University can, as The Green Bay Press-Gazette tells us, censor an exhibition because it’s paid for by the taxpayers, then it is a short step to censoring any other material such as theses or dissertations created by students and a short step toward censoring any other material taught to students. That this is an objective of the nascent theocracy in Washington is plain in light of the Intelligent Design credo being pushed on students in lieu of science.

The school’s argument, that it incites violence, seems a bit anemic when put up against the rhetoric of the Religious right and seems laughable when we compare an image like Patriot Act with the other shocking images displayed in this show and other shows of the last decade or so. I wonder if Pat Robertson would be banned from campus for advocating a political assassination or indeed George Bush for attempting to carry out one at the cost of many innocent lives.


Crankyboy said...

I'd ban all art shows since they display a movie poster mentally devoid of poetry, talent or tought. Art is dead. It died with Raphael and Michelangelo.

Capt. Fogg said...

No more than Literature died with Dante. Don't confuse taste or one person's ability to relate to modernity as the death of anything except sensibility. It's like saying that nobody has had anything worth saying since the 16th century because nobody speaks Latin anymore. That's the kind of mind set that gives us fundamentalism. In fact it is fundamentalism.

d.K. said...

the image of Patriot Act in the book would be displayed in lieu of the framed piece

Here's where the university chancellor's true motives are betrayed. Unless he believes that a picture frame could incite violence, or that oil paint encourages murder but simple ink from a press does not, his arguments fail to hold water.

Universities were once sancrosanct places where all ideas could be discussed freely in the interest of promoting the acquisition of knowledge. Controversy was desirable.

How ironic that the piece is called "Patriot Act," the same name as the law that supposedly does not curb civil liberties but does allow our government more maneuver space to provide us security. How does banning this painting (but not exact replicas of it) enhance our security? How f***ng stupid does the chancellor think we are? It seems that every day we're veering further and further off the course of a free country whose liberties were once held up as the model for other states to emulate.

Of course it is not about this piece of art, which I don't like and would never hang in my home -- it's about the slippery slope that is getting ever more steep and slick.

Crankyboy said...

"It's like saying that nobody has had anything worth saying since the 16th century..."

That's true. We have the ability to speak to anyone on the planet in a billionth of a second and yet we truly say nothing. Except for me. Everything I say has worth.

Capt. Fogg said...

I'll give you ten bucks for everything you say.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog - and I hate it. It is extremely informative and makes me feel completel powerless. I want to run around and throw bricks through windows. I have been incited to violence, not by the image but by the reaction to "protect me" from it. Fuckers.

Capt. Fogg said...

Join the club - I feel powerless too. I'm fairly sure that by the eime we get to vote again, Bush will be remanufactured as a hero again. Maybe it's a law of nature of some kind that Republics only last a couple of hundred years.