13 Thoughts to “Another First Amendment Issue: Hitler”

  1. Second-Alamo

    If we take the term ‘freedom of speech’ literally, and many liberals do, then anyone should be able to display or say anything they wish about anyone or anything they choose. Obviously we all have a moral limitation on that freedom based on our upbringing, or other influences throughout our lives, and so too must society determine those collective limitations. That’s where the difficulty lies. I just cringe when someone does something that probably offends 90% of the population, and then gets away with it under the term ‘freedom of speech’! Society should collectively have the right to make that determination, but unfortunately in this PC atmosphere that 10% that aren’t offended would rule the decision.

  2. You know, I would argue the “taste” aspect if the artist was saying Hitler was his idol. However, this isn’t what the artist said at all, and the Hitler portrait isn’t any more or less offensive than any of the other faces the artist has painted. I don’t see that the artist has put a halo over Hitler’s head. In fact, he has made the painting rather ugly.

    I don’t get the controversy, really, especially considering there are FAR more heinous examples of tasteless art out there.

    I feel bad for the lady with PTSD, of course. However, I have had PTSD and I can tell you, the world will not remove episodic “triggers” for you. You have to avoid the triggers or learn to deal with them or both. In this case, she has the option of going into the gallery or not. I would suggest she go elsewhere.

  3. SA, interesting point. I would also suggest that it works both ways…the PC business. Would you take Hitler down?

    Pinko I think I would probably have to agree with you. I feel badly for the lady and she should stay away from the gallery. There have been court cases over similar issues and 1st amendment won. (KKK march in Skokie for example)

    Is this discussion related to the one about D Day and having Stalin in the memorial?

  4. Careful guy’s, you might spark an “Everybody Draw Hitler Day”

    If you supported “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, you should have no issue with this painting staying up.

  5. Oh Lord, I don’t want to go there.

  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everybody_Draw_Mohammed_Day

    Worldwide movement to preserve the right to draw whatever you want.

  7. marinm

    Yah, I’m ok with the artist and the gallary’s position on this.

    The lady reminds me of the movie, “PCU”.

  8. Wolverine

    Given the Supreme Court decision in National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, Illinois, you would have to say that the lady does not have a legal case in any way, shape or form. The Skokie case was a serious clash of sensitivities and the First Amendment in its ugliest form — a bunch of neo-Nazis carrying swastikas threatening to march through a town with a huge Jewish population, including many Holocaust survivors who could not promise that the sight of those swastikas would not cause them to react physically. You couldn’t very well tell the Jewish residents of Skokie to stay in their homes on that day if they didn’t like the parade. To paraphrase a Ronald Reagan comment, the residents of Skokie had paid for those streets. I remember thinking that, if anybody had the moral high ground in that case, it was certainly the residents of Skokie. The ACLU and the Supreme Court did not see it that way. Fortunately, circumstances were such that the neo-Nazis marched elsewhere rather than in Skokie itself — their actual goal in the first place.

    This case of the portrait in an art gallery would seem not to have even remotely the sensitivities of the Skokie case. So long as that portrait represents only art and not some ulterior motove by the artist, I don’t see where the lady has anything even close to a case or a complaint. Would she also ask that all pictures of Hitler in the local library’s history books be removed because she might happen to come across one of them?

    For the same reasons, I see no legal way in which anyone could force the Bedford Memorial to remove that bust of Stalin. The only way in which such action can be forced is if those who object refuse to patronize a place and are able to raise their protest to the level of a significant boycott, thereby forcing the establishments in question to rethink their own positions and make a purely “personal” decision without being under a legal threat.

    Having said all of the above, this got me to thinking about the more recent issue of the display of a hanging noose and its psychological effect on African-Americans who may remember or at least have historical reference to the era of lynchings. If it came right down to it, would that also go the way of the National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, Illinois case? Are we now sort of avoiding a definitive legal ruling on such things and actually trying to apply moral pressure in the place of legal action because we fear that legal action could get the same result as Skokie? I say this not having a recall at the moment of any cases brought against the display of a noose except perhaps if direct intimidation was proven.

  9. @Wolverine
    The difference between the case you site and the case of the paintings, though, is that the painter is not a neo-Nazi, nor is he endorsing Hitler in any way, shape or form. There is no comparison really except that both the neo-Nazis and the painter are protected by law to express themselves as they wish.

    That said, I will go back to SA’s wording: “good taste.” It is hardly in good taste to allow neo-Nazis to parade through a town of mainly Jewish residents (and that’s an understatement). I would also argue that those parading are doing more than exercising their free speech–they are intending to intimidate and harass.

    Frankly, I am about tired of people using free speech as license to harass. (That “Baptist” church comes to mind.)

  10. And oddly enough, if someone says noose to me, I think of the old cowboy movies where the bad gang was up on the gallows and the floor drops out.

    I never think of lynchings.

  11. I think there are similarities. I instantly thought of Skokie when I saw the article. Does intent matter? Should it matter if the guy is a neo nazi or not?

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