Incoming House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have thrown the weight of government into efforts by the Religious Right to shut down an acclaimed art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. The Hide/Seek exhibit explores evolving expressions of sexuality in art.
The Religious Right, led by the fringe Catholic League, has whipped up its base into fervor over themes they didn’t even try to understand before condemning as "anti-Christian." The extremists’ allies in Congress, like Boehner and Cantor, are heeding calls from the fringe to censor the exhibit.
Cantor said the exhibit is an intentional attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season. And Boehner, Cantor and other right-wing leaders have attacked the exhibit as a questionable use of taxpayer money, even though Smithsonian exhibits including this one are privately funded. They are now threatening to go after Smithsonian public funding and even to launch investigations into Smithsonian exhibits.
Democracy is a hollow promise if citizens aren't guaranteed freedom of expression. The United States, like other free nations, has a long history of supporting and embracing art by those of many different values and viewpoints.
Help protect Americans' right to speak their minds without fear of reprisal. Tell the House Republican Leadership to stay out of the censorship game and to keep their hands off Smithsonian funding.
Congress has no business censoring art and free creative expression, and threats to go after the Smithsonian Institution's public funding over a privately-funded art exhibit are inappropriate. That these threats are in response to attacks by Far Right activists like Bill Donohue, who has made a career of manufacturing controversies over false claims of attacks on Christians, is outrageous.
I urge you to end the hostile rhetoric and respect America's standards of honoring free speech and creative expression. As the leaders of incoming majority of the House of Representatives in the coming year, your job should be to work with the Senate and the White House to advance policies that will help Americans, not to chase political straw men at the behest of the Far Right.
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