Art is often political, deriding leaders, subversively displaying the costs of failed policies, and inflaming critics all around. But when a painting featuring an Old Glory–stained U.S. map slipping into a toilet bowl beside the phrase "T'anks to Bush!" gets displayed on government property, well, it's not just the artist who will struggle.
The piece roundly roused the ire of conservatives in Northern California but Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who has an anti-censorship poster hanging in his office, has no plans of bowing to the protests. The exhibit at the Department of Justice that includes the piece is sponsored by a private group called California Lawyers for the Arts, which includes the artist Stephen Pearcy, Esq.
"What upsets me is the thought that a group of people thinks that only certain kinds of art should be allowed and some kind of art should be suppressed," the curator of the show told SacUnion, asserting that works expressing a conservative view would have been included had any been submitted.
The same artist earlier created an effigy of the American soldier with a sign reading "Bush Lied, I Died" and hung it from a noose outside his home. "Angry residents in his community tore down that effigy," MSNBC's Monica Crowley said, "and rightly so." Of course, absent all the outrage, the artist probably wouldn't be getting his work broadcast to national television audiences either. Yet another example of censorship backfiring.