Topic One – Money for Art: The Tangled Web of Art and Politics in American Democracy
Taxpayers jeered when Obama poured $80 million of “stimulus” funds into the National Endowment for the Arts—but wait until you hear where the money is going! NEA grants are funding nude simulated-sex dances and porn films. At the same time, ten Republican senators have written to the NEA Chairman expressing concern that the Obama administration may have violated federal law by trying to use the agency for political purposes. The charges stem from an Aug. 10 teleconference in which the NEA's communications director urged members of the arts community to help Obama's efforts by creating art to support Obama’s various agendas. David Smith is author of a new history of government and art and is here to tell us how the NEA strayed from its original mission of fostering national pride and virtue through art.
Topic Two – The Price of Proposition 8
Support for Proposition 8, the democratically established marriage amendment in California, has come with a heavy price for many individuals and institutions that think that marriage should remain the union of husband and wife. Publicly available sources, including evidence submitted in a federal lawsuit in California, show that expressions of support for Prop 8 have generated a range of hostilities and harms that include harassment, intimidation, vandalism, racial scapegoating, blacklisting, loss of employment, economic hardships, angry protests, violence, at least one death threat, and gross expressions of anti-religious bigotry. Because the issue of marriage is still very much alive in California and throughout the nation, the naked animus manifested against people and groups that supported Prop 8 raises serious questions that should concern anyone interested in promoting civil society, democratic processes, and reasoned discourse on important matters of public policy, such as marriage. We look at the price of Proposition 8 with Thomas Messner.