I am strongly (rabidly) opposed to censorship of the arts, but that doesn't mean that I think anything goes at any time or any place. But neither do I want to sit in a courtroom and have to stare at a painting of the white Massa and his slaves. If i want to appreciate the historical aspects or the artistic merit, I'll go see it in a museum.
The positive change in societal attitudes doesn't mean the painting should be destroyed. We are not the barbarian hordes here, burning Alexandria. But it does mean that the public should not be forced to view offensive art due to its location in a public building.
Times change (thank goodness) and what was once perfectly acceptable visual representations of society are no longer deemed acceptable. What to do with the art?
We cannot change the past by destroying the art. In fact, isn't the art a good reminder to not repeat idiotic mistakes of the past? We cannot change the ideas of others by burning books that we find offensive. We cannot hide or lie to ourselves by toppling the sculptures and pretending we were always perfect.
But neither do we need to condone past oppressions by giving the art depicting lynchings and prejudice prominent display room in our halls of justice.
"Stanford University art historian Michael Marrinan said works of art often have suffered from changing attitudes. Heroic paintings of Napoleon were displayed for years in the Louvre, taken down when political fortunes changed and then hung again when a new regime came into power. "Anytime a work is political, it is going to have a shelf life," he said. "We may not agree with it anymore, but it is part of our heritage."
****Hear the discussion today on the Award Winning DAMage Report Radio Show - http://www.latalkradio.com at 2pm PST / 5pm EST/ 10pm GMT