As an organization whose mission is to support artists, we want to keep the heat on the protests against censorship by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and their decision to pull the video, “A Fire in My Belly” by the late artist David Wojnarowicz.
Last week Light Work collaborated with ArtRage Gallery in Syracuse to screen a full version of “Fire in My Belly” and to lead a discussion with the audience about censorship in the arts. Both Light Work and ArtRage will be showing “Fire in My Belly” in our galleries until February 13, 2011.
What was clear from our conversation was that this act of censorship was a calculated anti-American attack on the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. We find it ironic that those who want to drape themselves in the American flag as true champions of conservative ideals are the first ones to trample on our First Amendment, just because they don’t like what others use it to express.
Freedom, and especially freedom of speech, is what defines democracy in the United States. Take that away and we become Iran or North Korea. That is why those who want to censor free speech are practicing the most vehement anti-American behavior possible, and they need to be called out.
Fortunately there have been loud and widespread protests by artists, activists, and supporters of free speech across the country. We urge you to join these protests and let your voice be heard.
—Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director
Protesters at Met Rally for Artwork | Wall Street Journal; Dec. 20, 2010
New Yorkers Protest Smithsonian Censorship | Advocate.com; Dec. 20, 2010
Protesters decry Smithsonian’s removal of controversial video | LosAngelesTimes.com; Dec. 20, 2010
NYC Protest Against Smithsonian Censorship of David Wojnarowicz Video | iReport;Dec. 19, 2010
Finally, you can join a letter writing campaign to alert your representatives and other elected officials that this type of censorship will not be tolerated in America. Click here to download the text of the letter, add the name(s) of the intended recipient(s), sign, and send.