Friday, April 15, 2005
Having been a commercial artist for over 15 years before expanding my horizons, I was particularly offended by the ham-handed Secret Service visit to Columbia College that I wrote about on Wednesday, and that was highlighted by Lambert yesterday. So I thought I'd pull out a comment from the Wednesday post that seemed important, and reprint both it and my response:
Like I said in a comment: When Art Is Criminalized, Only Criminals Will Make Art"
"This could have and would have happened in any administration. The Secret Service have zero sense of humor when it comes to this thing, no matter which party has a man in the White House. Some might remember the time Bill Clinton came to the Taste of Chicago, and a women who yelled “You suck! I was there fault those boys died” was arrested by the Secret Service (for “disorderly conduct” as my memory serves).
That was an extreme example. This incident isn’t so far out of bounds. If my job is to protect someone’s life, and evaluate potential threats against them. And I learn that someone is displaying a painting showing a gun pointed at my protectee’s head, that is something I’m going to want to know more about.
Hell, if someone made a picture with a gun pointed at my head, I would probably consider that a threat against me, and I bet most people reading this would too. It’s not brain-dead to investigate something like that, it’s brain-dead to assume it’s not a big deal.
Free speech carries with it a responsibility. If you use it in a provocative and inflammatory manner that could reasonable create inferences of violent intent, expect to for their to be questions as to just what you meant. That doesn’t mean we live in a police state, it means we live in a state where the social contract is still in force".
"Goldfish, there are cheaper and better uses of taxpayer money for ruling out artists as enemies of the state than sending the Secret Service running around the country. How about a few well-placed phone calls, or the local cops? No, I think this is all about sending a message to the citizenry that we'd best watch what we say, as Ari Fleischer so memorably put it.