The Bloomberg administration in New York City has pitifully apologized and shelled out $56,000 to Brooklyn College art students. Their exhibition at the World War II memorial in Cadman Plaza Park, Brooklyn, was removed last year by the city Department of Parks and Recreation a day after it opened.
The show, dismantled because it was deemed not “appropriate for families,” included caged rats, images of pornographically portrayed nuns and gay sex, a sculpture of a penis, and a piece containing a written narrative describing a sexual encounter with a man named Dick Cheney.
When it came to light that this “artwork’ was inside a memorial to our war dead, recalls The New York Sun, the then provost of Brooklyn College, Roberta Matthews, intoned that she was “proud” to display the student work and glibly dismissed the matter on grounds of “freedom of expression.”
Given the approbation, choice publicity and lucre the students have received – and that several points of law remain unanswered regarding the limits, if any, the city can put on the content of an exhibition – expect a flood of similar “art” in New York public spaces.
A law professor at New York University, Amy Adler, notes “there was no decisive court precedent that said whether the city could have a blanket policy stating ‘we are only going to display work that is non-sexual.’” Moreover, “the city has no policy for examining the content of artwork before it issues permits for city spaces.”
The city’s apology is misdirected, as the Sun’s editors write with just fervor:
No doubt there is going to be a good bit of gloating over this among the leftists at Brooklyn College, in the left wing salons. But someone should say a word for the ordinary, hard-working New York taxpayers who underwrite the education given at Brooklyn College, who send their sons and daughters off to war to protect them, and who, when they walk by that memorial and others like it, say a silent prayer, or just stop and reflect, or plant an American flag, or occasionally snap a salute. They are the real objects of the mockery that has been made here. They live in a constitutional democracy that will, over the long haul, give them ways to assert the decency, art, and patriotism that our war-dead deserve. They are the ones who are owed the apology.