Cover Up the Dirty Parts!: Arts Funding, Fighting, and the First Amendment
Cover Up the Dirty Parts! takes on directly not only questions regarding the relationship between government funding for the arts and political censorship, but also deeper philosophical questions regarding liberty, the definition of art, the role of vague terms in language and law, and the epistemological role of both free expression and art itself. The issue of arts funding sits in the terrain of overlap between aesthetics and political philosophy and thus elicits aesthetic questions regarding the purpose of art and how art is defined, political questions regarding the nature of freedom and the role of government, and epistemological questions regarding the sources of knowledge and how it is we acquire it. As both an analytic philosopher and a practicing artist, Shottenkirk has incorporated the insights and sensitivities of both worlds in this analysis of why art is important and why freedom of expression within cultural development must be respected if we are to embrace a society able to provide the maximum degree of stimulation and safety for all its members. In this context, art is viewed as valuable both as a tool for knowledge acquisition for the individual and as a source of consensus building for the culture. As a device for consensus building, art has the role of practicing respect for differing opinions and balancing competing points of view as well as serving as self-expression for the individual. Interviews with two artists, the first of whom is an American central to the funding debates of the last few decades and the second of whom is a contemporary Iranian writer imprisoned for her writing, combine with both narrative and philosophical analysis to give a complete picture of the issues and what is at stake for all of us who care not only about art but about freedom as well. While the distinction between censorship and non-funding is explored, also analyzed is the need for tolerance in the face of offense as well as respect for others' rights and cultural differences.
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