Wednesday, March 14, 2007

State Rep. Borris Miles: Art Thief (and Terrorist?)

I'll let the A.P. tell you the story:

AUSTIN — State Rep. Borris Miles personally removed two pieces of art on display at the Capitol that he found objectionable.

The artworks — a painting of a black man hanging from a rope and an illustration of a man tied to an electric chair with the inscription "Doing God's Work" — were part of an exhibit placed by the Texas Moratorium Network, which seeks a two-year moratorium on the death penalty in Texas.

In e-mail to House colleagues Monday, Miles wrote: "I was greeted with these images as I walked through the halls of the (Capitol) Extension this morning with my two children, ages five and eight. I consider them to be extremely inappropriate and highly objectionable.

"Capitol exhibits are supposed to serve a public purpose or be informational in nature. These pictures were hung with no accompanying text or explanation," wrote Miles, D-Houston.

Mr. Miles was further quoted as saying: "We should not prevent the display of art, but there have to be limits."

So this dumbass is dragging his kids around the state capitol (while on the state dime, natch), and sees some art he doesn't like. Instead of explaining his (probably crackpot) view of things to his kids (in the very unlikely event that they even noticed, or had the slightest idea of the philosophical, ethical, or religious connotations), and properly registering a complaint, he takes it upon himself to grab the artwork off the walls and take it with him.

First, this is blatant censorship, a clear First Amendment violation.

Second, is this guy really so dense that he needs "accompanying text" to provide him with an "explanation"? Not having seen the artwork myself, the provided description seems to make the point pretty damn self-evident.

Third, doesn't this constitute theft?

Fourth, as broadly as we are definining terrorism these days, doesn't this act constitute a crime against the state, possibly justifying his detention in some no-laws-apply Carribean gulag?

But in all seriousness, this person clearly doesn't understand the very essence of freedom of expression as practiced in this country for the last 200+ years. You simply DO NOT have the right to travel through this land unoffended, free of any sight that might be "inappropriate" or "objectionable" according to your own narrowly defined standards. And you most certainly do not have the right to take it upon yourself to make sure that no one else views these kinds of messages.

And yes, Mr. Miles, there are limits. These limits have been carefully defined by the Supreme Court of this country over many many years, in cases fought tooth and nail by some of the most talented advocates in the history of human thought, and decided by some of the foremost legal minds in the history of jurisprudence. And yet you, Mr. Miles, have appointed yourself the sole decider of what messages may be conveyed in the state house? A place where debate, reason, and ideas must be allowed the freest of reigns?


Gleemonex said...

>You simply DO NOT have the right to travel through this land unoffended, free of any sight that might be "inappropriate" or "objectionable" according to your own narrowly defined standards.

No kidding ... if that were true, I'd've burned down every Wal-Mart in America by now.

bgirl said...

As a parent, I would be horrified to see that in a public building with my children. Obviously, it would lead to an easier discussion with my kiddos since I actually do oppose the death penalty, but I can at least see his beef with this. He obviously doesn't have the authority to start swiping down paintings, but the group that put them there may also want to reconsider their scare tactics a least in my opinion. I don't like it when people try to draw on emotional responses like that to win people over to their side.