Anon1 | Indy Week

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Re: “Recent Decisions in The News & Observer’s Arts Journalism Expose the Downside of “Reader-Focused Coverage”

"And some things, like peoples right to feel included in public space are more important than creative expression."

There are two problems with this basic ideology. One, it is simply impractical to expect that in a communal space, everyone is going to feel included all the time and two, nothing is more important than the ability exercise creative freedom.

The idea that everyone needs to feel safe all the time in communal spaces is counterproductive. Everyone should have the right to voice their opinion free from threat of physical or verbal abuse, but a truly safe space where conflict is not present does a disservice to all mankind. Ideas, people, morality thrives on coming into contact with the other and recognizing differences and similarities. The only way to ensure everyones right to feel included is uniformity and that is the deathnell of any vibrant society. Equality means everyone has the same opportunities, it does not mean that everyone feels the same inside about that experience.

One of the functions of art is to engage, on a sensory level our understanding of the truth, to bypass the intellect and reach into the depths of our deepest desires, fears and unconscious and find resonance or dissonance. If that function is compromised, through internal or external means, we lose one of our primary tools for understanding self, other and the space between. The question of whether or not Silent Sam is art, is different from saying that art needs to make everyone feel included. It doesnt. The artists job is to take internal states of truth and create artifacts that disseminate those truths to others. Does this always happen, no, but the basic functioning of this process must remain alive. The censorship of art and creativity, through oppressive totalitarian means or the social stigma of offending any one person achieve the same ends. Yes, this does open the door to offensive materials and yes, in the same way the first amendment protects the rights of Nazis to march in the street, it can mean for awkward times...but - once we head down the road of deciding what art is appropriate by who it offends, we have opened the door to a long and dismal slide into oppressive regimes.

Neither of these points argues that fact that context does make a difference. Silent Sam may well be better served surrounded by historical context and used as an example of intolerance and the institutionalized racism that is endemic to our country...and - this doesn't even begin to discuss whether or not monuments are art or not. But - regardless, this article does what many seem to do today, react emotionally to a situation without digging into the underlying philosophy of where those reactions might take us...creative expression, particularly in the public space must remain free to all who take that opportunity. And yes, this does create a murky line between creative expression and hate speech (which cannot be tolerated) but that is a line that we must decide inch by inch and not mile by mile.


0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Anon1 on 09/02/2017 at 10:48 AM

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