Bleep! Censoring Rock and Rap Music

By Betty Houchin Winfield; Sandra Davidson | Go to book overview

APPENDIX: THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS

To promote the arts, Congress created the National Endowment for the Arts ( NEA) in 1965.

In the late 1980s, part of the NEA's funds were used to support Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs. On October 5, 1990, a Jury acquitted Cicilmati's Contemporary Arts Center and its director, Dennis Barrie, of misdemeanor charges of pandering obscenity and illegal use of a minor in nudityoriented materials. A grand jury had indicted the Center and its director over its exhibit of 175 photographs entitled "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment."

Part of NEA's funds supported Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," a photograph of a crucifix inside a container of urine. Not surprisingly, complaints ensued and Senator Jesse Helms led a legislative charge against such use of public funds. Following are selected statutes concerning the NEA and portions of a 1998 Supreme Court decision that upholds § 954(d)(1) of the NEA statutes. In that statutory provision, Congress directs the NEA to take into consideration "general standards of decency and respect" when judging grant applications.


NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES

title 20 United States Code

§ 952. Definitions

As used in this Act --

(j)The term "determined to be obscene" means determined, in a final judgment of a court of record and of competent jurisdiction in the United States, to be obscene.

(1) The term "obscene" means with respect to a project, production, workshop, or program that --

(1) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that such project, production, workshop, or program, when taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

(2) such project, production, workshop, or program depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and

(3) such project, production, workshop, or program, when taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.


§ 954. National Endowment for the Arts

(a) Establishment. There is established within the Foundation a National Endowment for the Arts. . . .

(c) Program of contracts, grants-in-aid, or loans to groups and individuals for projects and productions; traditionally underrepresented recipients of financial

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