Misuse of `censorship’

The Hatchet irresponsibly used the word “censorship” to describe what happened with the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s “Sensation” display (“Dung Happens” p. 4, Oct. 4), and liken it to a book with the “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it” argument.

Censorship is defined as a controlling government entity stopping a person from expressing himself. This is not what happened here – the city of New York did not prevent, block or abridge the display. The artist can display whatever he wants, but New Yorkers don’t have to pay for it. If you choose to avoid reading a book, you are not forced to first pay for it before you decide not to read it.

The Hatchet seems to support a dangerous precedent that says “If I call something `art,’ the government is obligated to pay me to display it in the name of the First Amendment.”

The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

If I took a picture of you, threw elephant dung on it, and demanded that you pay me for billboard space to display it, would you do it? See the difference? New York did not abridge the speech of the artist, nor does the First Amendment obligate you, me, New Yorkers or any other taxpayer to subsidize someone’s expression of speech, regardless of the subject matter.

-Bill Rouckgraduate student

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