Pop Culture
Aug 21, 2008, 09:37AM

College Presidents Taking Cues From John Ashcroft

Southern Illinois University's chancellor covered up an art exhibit because one portion showed a partially exposed butt, channeling former Attorney General John Ashcroft's wish to drape cloth over the exposed breasts of Lady Justice. When asked for comment, he actually said "I do not believe in any form of censoring," proving that an uncomfortable lack of familiarity with the English language for a college administrator.

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Would this offend you if you could see a butt?

A day after ordering a graduate student's artwork be taken down, Southern Illinois University interim Chancellor Sam Goldman agreed Tuesday the work could be displayed if a cloth covered a photo of partially exposed buttocks.

The banner depicted women in a police lineup in costumes and poses that Weiersmueller said defy gender norms. One of the 27 subjects partially exposed her buttocks, which Goldman said could have negative effects on the public.

"I am not an art policeman, and I do not believe in any form of censoring, but the concern had to do with context," Goldman said. "We have families, children and all kinds of people walking on campus, so the question was, is it appropriate for them?"

Weiersmueller said he told her the complaints came from parents who were concerned after their children saw the banner.

She said she initially considered using a black halo on the buttocks to make a statement about censorship in media. Even with the cloth, the intent of her work comes through, she said.

"The two most important goals for me are to have the work shown and have an open dialogue about it," Weiersmueller said. "It was a compromise, but it was worth it for the sake of the image to be viewed."


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