‘Decent’ Proposal

The Mayor, Upset About Two Art Exhibits, Has Set Up a Decency Panel. Censorious?

imageHELEN WHEELOCK
Age 39
Resides Queens
Occupation Teacher

Have you ever seen art you were offended by?I’ve walked out of things because they were poorly thought out and executed, but not because they offended me. I was offended by how little television coverage there was of the women’s basketball tournament. I was upset enough to write a letter of protest.

Do you agree with the formation of a decency panel?I’m very uncomfortable with standards and who sets them.

Who would you put on the panel?Mark Morris, Anna Deavere Smith, Aristotle, and Hally Flannigan, who was part of the Federal Theater Project and the WPA.


imageMOHAMMED KHAN
Age49
Resides Queens
Occupation Antiques restorer

Have you ever seen art you were offended by?No. Artists of all kinds have a right to express their visions, and I have the right to ignore them if they bother me. God gave us the choice to express our differences peacefully. The Taliban have destroyed the statues, even though God says to avoid extremes in religion and to respect the religions of others.

Do you agree with the formation of a decency panel?If we follow the Constitution, we’re supposed to be able to express ourselves.

Who would you put on the panel? Muhammad. He took on profoundly difficult issues with great wisdom.


imageDARLENE GILLARD
Age31
Resides Long Island
Occupation Fashion editor

Have you ever seen art you were offended by?Of all the art forms, music may come closest in its ability to offend me. I went to see the Cash Money Millionaires, and even though they gave a great concert, at some point they were bringing these young girls onto the stage and disrespecting them. I thought to myself, “What am I doing here?”

Do you agree with the formation of a decency panel?I don’t know. If we do have one, I don’t think the mayor should be involved in choosing who’s on it.

Who would you put on the panel?Russell Simmons.


imageMIKE BERNARD
Age25
Resides Suffolk County
Occupation Network engineer

Have you ever seen art you were offended by?Art is beautiful. I’m a musician, and I know very well what it means to build something. I think words are much more offensive than art will ever be. It only takes a split second to misunderstand.

Do you agree with the formation of a decency panel?No. People should be free to express themselves. The mayor has restricted so much of what made New York great. If he’s going to run pornography and strip bars out of Times Square, why doesn’t he establish a real red-light district for the city? It works in Amsterdam.

Who would you put on the panel?Frank Zappa. The man knew about art more than anyone I can think of, and he didn’t care what people thought about him. I’d say the same thing about John Lennon.


imageALEXANDRA STOKMAN
Age23
Resides Queens
Occupation Public relations

Have you ever seen art you were offended by?Rarely, but the work of Ron Jeremy bothers me. He’s praised for his “manhood,” but his work graphically depicts violence against women. It’s just gratuitous.

Do you agree with the formation of a decency panel?I’m horrified by it. We don’t need morality police. The mayor’s job is to clean up the city and protect its citizens. It’s interesting that he’s always doing battle on behalf of Catholicism. He never seems to get upset about perceived attacks on Judaism or Hinduism.

Who would you put on the panel?Hillary Clinton.


imageWINNIE SIBANDZE
Age18
Resides Manhattan
Occupation Student

Have you ever seen art you were offended by?I love Dr. Dre, but sometimes if you look deeply at his lyrics, they’re disturbing.

Do you agree with the formation of a decency panel?No. In South Africa, where I’m from, it’s the head of the museum who decides what gets exhibited, not the mayor.

Who would you put on the panel?Martin Luther King.


imageCHRIS MCNEIL
Age20
Resides Manhattan
Occupation Student

Have you ever seen art you were offended by?No. I don’t take offense too easily.

Do you agree with the formation of a decency panel?Cleaning things up isn’t a bad idea per se, but the mayor is focusing on the wrong issues. Attacking art is not the right thing to do.

Who would you put on the panel?Howard Stern. A lot of people are offended by him, but he’s a champion of free speech.

 
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