Art Is Always Political When the Government Starts Giving Grants

"In the background of the entire tedious debate over the NEA, the First Amendment has loomed, misunderstood and abused as usual, claimed by some as justification for their right to express a preference for causing pain to others during the sex act and asserted by others as the basis for a constitutional right to receive federal grants."

—Raymond Solokov

Speaking of the subject of censorship and the arts in general, and, more specifically, the whole affair in these recent months (filling many newspaper pages) about the problem of the American taxpayer and the government's support or nonsupport of the arts; speaking of freedom and of censorship, then, particularly, here and now, represented by the ways and means, the action and inaction of the National Endowment for the Arts, hereinafter called the NEA; speaking of these things—and why not? Everybody else is—I do, in fact, have a few things to say.

First off, I need to admit honestly to the angle from which I view things, the point of view with which I bear witness. Besides being a part-time writer and a full-time teacher, I am by now listed here and there as a Democrat and an Episcopalian. A Democrat of New Deal origins and versions. An Episcopalian who is happier with the language and theology of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, but who, for the time being,...

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