Thursday, June 30, 2005

Things You Pay For

Ann Coulter responded to the Supreme Court's schizophrenic rulings on displays of the Ten Commandments in part by listing some other kinds of speech your taxes pay for. Her examples, some of which you've probably already heard of, range from the silly to the outrageous. The list is interesting, particularly the numerous examples of "art" funded by taxpayers through the National Endowment for the Arts. Her conclusion:

I don't want to hear any jabberwocky from the Court TV amateurs about "the establishment of religion." (1) A Ten Commandments monument does not establish a religion. (2) The First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law "respecting" an establishment of religion – meaning Congress cannot make a law establishing a religion, nor can it make a law prohibiting the states from establishing a religion. We've been through this a million times.

Why don't we leave matters like displays of the Ten Commandments to state and local governments? That's what federalism is all about.


Blogger Zipcard2 said...

First!!! I posted this on your last comment but I am reposting. I truly would like to hear your answer.

5:13 AM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Zipcard2, thanks for you comments. I responded in the previous comments section.

5:37 AM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger John Walter said...

Tom! You're reading Ann Coulter? Don't you know that makes you part of the vast rightwing conspiracy?

8:55 AM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Francesca said...

Why do you put scare quotes around the word art? I didn't read the Coulter article, but it is so silly when conservatives get their panties in a bunch over the Natl. Endowment for the Arts. The Pentagon's marching band has a bigger budget.

10:40 AM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

John, I know, and it troubles me. That's why after I read Coulter I hurry over to the NYT and read someone like Krugman or Rich. Helps keep my yin and yang in balance.

Francesca, those aren't scare quotes. It indicates that what we're talking about isn't art. Here are a few examples of "art" the NEA funded with your tax dollars:

A novel depicting the sexual molestation of a group of 10 children in a pedophile's garage, including acts of bestiality, with the children commenting on how much they enjoyed the pedophilia. – NEA-funded publisher

Christ submerged in a jar of urine. – NEA-funded exhibit

A show titled "DEGENERATE WITH A CAPITAL D" featuring a display of the remains of the artist's own aborted baby. – NEA-funded exhibit

Now, I don't object to most of the projects the NEA spends my money on. Some of them may be junk executed by no-talent jerks, but that's OK. Some of it, however, is beyond the pale, and if the NEA can't have enough common sense to not fund these things, then I'm happy to see it abolished. And I'm not interested in "free speech" arguments--the taxpayers have no obligation to fund speech.

Read the Coulter column for all the examples. Try holding your breath; it'll be over before you know it.

11:27 AM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Francesca said...

I just skimmed through the list in Coulter's article. Those works are indeed art. Just because they are offensive to some people doesn't mean they are not art.

Still, she should put the actual dollar amount each artist received from the NEA to carry out their projects. That might put things in better perspective.

4:01 PM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Francesca, you're free to consider that stuff as "art" if you wish. And you're free to subsidize it with your dollars. Do you think it's right that I'm forced to subsidize it with my money? And believe me, it doesn't matter how much money is spent on it. I hope you can understand that there are principles involved.

And by the way, I'm not surprised to see you comparing dollars spent on the things Coulter listed with the military, in this case military bands. I'm not surprised at all. And by the way, have you ever heard or seen a military band? They're wonderful.

4:47 PM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger John Walter said...

Abraham Lincoln had something to say about stuff like this. "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

Francesca can call stuff like that art all she pleases. I'll happily sell her some of the art my dog makes in the back yard.

10:21 PM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger Francesca said...

Tom, my advanced degrees in art history have helped me figure out what's art and what's not! E.g. Thomas Kinkaide--not art.

At any rate, I see your point about not wanting to subsidize what you don't like. But consider my predicament: I'm strongly against the war in Iraq. With the cost of the war now upwards of $180 billion, I have contributed FAR more to something I detest than you or I have contributed to offensive art. Yes, there are principles involved, so I urge you to think of the bigger picture.

10:26 AM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

One caveat Francesca -- defense is outlawed from funding in the private sector. Art is allowed. Unless you want defense to enter the private realm, it has to be funded by government.

10:35 AM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

In other words, only the government can purchase armaments and other weapons of war in addition to employing military personnel. Art is widely available in the private sector.

10:37 AM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Come on, Francesca. Defense and homeland security are among the few truly essential functions of government. You know there's no comparison to government's discretionary funding of art, however it's defined.

If you don't like what the government is doing, vote them out of office next time. If you and others who agree with you can't do that, then all I can tell you is "welcome to democracy."

11:22 AM, July 01, 2005  
Blogger Francesca said...

Tom, don't you think I did my best to vote them out of office this time?

And the argument about defense being essential...well, I'm not buying it. Some defense spending is important, but this country is out of control in terms of what is allocated for the military, to the tune of $400 billion dollars.

12:27 PM, July 01, 2005  

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