Statement of William Baldwin, President of the Creative Coalition
on Mayor Giuliani’s Appointment of Decency Panel
NEW YORK, N.Y. – April 5, 2001 – In response to Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s announcement appointing members of the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, William Baldwin, actor and President of the Creative Coalition, issued the following statement:
A panel empowered to set decency standards for New York City’s publicly-funded museums, by its very nature, seriously diminishes the First Amendment’s power to protect viewpoints considered controversial. Whether the commission itself becomes a censor or promulgates standards for others to enforce, the consequences for the city’s cultural environment would be the same—a chilling effect on city arts institutions deciding what art they choose to exhibit. This is an unfortunate and dangerous development, particularly given New York City’s long tradition of providing public assistance to arts and cultural institutions without restrictions penalizing disfavored viewpoints.
Decency commissions throughout history have existed only in dictatorships, whether in Spain during the Inquisition, in Germany during the Nazi regime and in the Soviet Union under Communism. They have existed where leaders, fearing a wide range of ideas and artistic expressions, sought to impose their official orthodoxy on citizens.
Free societies must respect the intelligence and common sense of their citizens to make their own judgments about the art on public view. The Mayor, like everyone else, has the right to decry what he sees as offensive art. What he should not do is hide behind a city-appointed commission that would limit the public’s right to see art that this commission finds indecent.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE COALITION
The Creative Coalition is the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance, primarily the First Amendment, arts advocacy, campaign finance reform and public education. Headquartered in New York City, The Creative Coalition also has offices in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Creative Coalition does not endorse or raise funds for political parties or candidates.
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