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The other side of the culture war

In reviewing the book Culture Wars: Documents From the Recent Controversies in the Arts (September 28), Mindi Dickstein asked, "Isn't it nice that we still live in a country where both sides of the issue of censorship can be still freely expressed in a single book?"

Too bad Dickstein herself didn't do as much. Her article wasn't a book review as much as it was a vendetta.

But it is nice to hear the left-liberal elite admit there is a cultural war going on. According to Dickstein all the shooting is from the right, who want to impose their standards on society. Following is the other side of the war.

I entered an art museum and was immediately confronted with an enormous white canvas with a red spot in the middle. It had been given a prominent place, said the curator, because it was so "striking." Traditional canvases were relegated to the second floor. Here is a case where National Endowment for the Arts types want to impose THEIR standards on society.

The lesson is clear. There will always be a war of ideas in every human sphere and, in the case of art, the NEA should be free to create and promote crucifixes in urine or red spots on white canvases just as fundamentalists should be free to define art as it pleases. Broadly speaking, this is the case in America. The marketplace takes care of what is produced and who sees it.

The conflict is sharpened, however, when government uses tax money inappropriately to support non-essentials like the NEA. The NEA has begun to think public money is a right and if it isn't forthcoming unencumbered, they cleverly call it censorship. It is nothing of the sort. The NEA is free to create its "art" using private funds if they can find them. Who's censoring them? But why should taxpayers pay for things they don't want to see and would dislike if they did see them?

Francis J. Sullivan, St. Petersburg

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