Trial over, Issues Refuse to Fade Views Clash over Photo Show in a City with a 20-Year History of Strict Anti-Pornography Enforcement. CINCINNATI OBSCENITY CASE

By Laura Van Tuyl, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 22, 1990 | Go to article overview

Trial over, Issues Refuse to Fade Views Clash over Photo Show in a City with a 20-Year History of Strict Anti-Pornography Enforcement. CINCINNATI OBSCENITY CASE


Laura Van Tuyl, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


While the streets of this river-front city were plastered with "Go Reds!" signs, the entrance to the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) sported an equally impassioned sign: "Not Guilty! It is art!!"

The poster reflects the relief and triumph felt by the museum and the arts community after a jury acquitted the arts center and its director two weeks ago of obscenity charges related to the Robert Mapplethorpe show presented here last spring.

But the verdict does not signal a return to business as usual, citizens say. The celebrated trial has left the arts center wracked with financial woes and the community emotionally exhausted.

"The city is still very divided. It's going to be a long time before the city heals," says Elizabeth K. Lanier, an attorney with Cincinnati's biggest law firm, Frost and Jacobs, and former president of the CAC. "I don't think the passions have been totally put to rest," adds Millard Rogers Jr., director of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Neither are the issues surrounding the trial likely to fade from national prominence, since other artistic genres are increasingly under fire for allegedly promoting obscenity. The rap group 2 Live Crew and purveyors of "NC-17" movies (a new rating replacing the former "X") are finding themselves in the middle of broadening debate over what is obscene and what is truly art.

In Cincinnati, the photography show "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment," which traveled to six other US cities, was exhibited as planned. But in preparation for an indictment, local police closed the museum the first day to videotape evidence; namely, several photos showing explicit homosexual acts and frontal nudity of children.

Dennis Barrie, director of Contemporary Arts Center, sees a parallel between the trial that ensued and the record store owner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who was recently convicted for selling the music of 2 Live Crew, the controversial rap singers, who themselves are facing prosecution on obscenity charges.

"I think it's part of a national pattern to restrict access to the written word, to the painted canvas, to recordings, and to movies," said Mr. Barrie, back in his office after the acquittal.

But some Cincinnatians say these conflicts are a result of concerned citizens who are alarmed by material that pushes the envelope of "common sense," violating moral and legal standards.

"You've got to draw the line somewhere," remarked Bob Lambers, a computer project engineer eating lunch in a downtown diner. Concerning the museum's trial, "I would have said `guilty.' It's like everything else - you've got to have limitations."

When authorities closed the Contemporary Arts Center, "the impact for all museums was a terrible one," Barrie says. "By coming in our door, they walked in the door of every museum in this country. Their ability to do that here was their ability to do that in New York, Tulsa, Columbus, or Seattle." But the acquittals have "given us new courage that they won't be able to do that again."

Opponents of the Mapplethorpe show were disappointed, "but we're satisfied the arts center was not permitted to do an end-run around the legal system. It had to be accountable...," says Monty Lobb, president of Citizens for Community Values, a local group.

People around the country, he says, will not understand the ruckus created here over Mapplethorpe "unless they understand Cincinnati and its history. There is nothing here on the open market for a person to rent or buy that's nearly as explicit or extreme as those Mapplethorpe pictures," Mr. Lobb explains in an interview. The absence of peep shows, adult book stores, and massage parlors reflects a "tradition here over the last 20 years" of elected officials who treat state obscenity laws "the way they would drug laws, murder laws, and rape laws. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Trial over, Issues Refuse to Fade Views Clash over Photo Show in a City with a 20-Year History of Strict Anti-Pornography Enforcement. CINCINNATI OBSCENITY CASE
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.