It’s Not Propaganda If Liberals Support It

Below is the kind of government action that causes left-liberals to roll their eyes over the thought that anyone but abject bigots should object to it, and causes libertarians to roll their eyes because liberals think this is just a dandy use of taxpayer money.

At issue: The National Endowment for the Arts awarded a $10,000 taxpayer-funded grant to a theater company in San Francisco to produce and tour a collection of plays advocating same-sex marriage called “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.”

As reported by the Washington Times:

The project was touted by Variety as “a celebration of gay marriage” … But taxpayer advocates say the government shouldn’t be using tax dollars to promote the arts, especially when the art in question has a political agenda that not all taxpayers support.

“This isn’t a pro-gay-marriage or an anti-gay-marriage issue. It’s an issue about how tax dollars are spent. It’s inappropriate and irresponsible for the government to make taxpayers subsidize art in general, and doubly offensive for the taxpayers forced to pay to promote something they might oppose. It would be just as offensive if tax dollars went to fund a play that opposed gay marriage,” said David Williams, president of Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Leaving aside the larger issues of our federal government distributing taxpayer money to local arts projects that government appointees deem worthy, this is the sort of thing that almost seems intended to provoke a conservative backlash—live and let live, equal rights under the law, it is not.

8 Comments for “It’s Not Propaganda If Liberals Support It”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The NEA funds a ton of projects every year, some controversial, most not.

    I don’t have an opinion one way or another about this grant, except to note that the actual play seems to be much more complex and nuanced than the conservative noise machine is making it out to be, which doesn’t surprise me much. But I haven’t seen or read the play, so I don’t know for sure.

    Michael and I are hoping to revisit MOCA’s exhibit on the Saint John’s Bible tomorrow, weather advisory permitting. It is a breathtaking exhibit, illuminating a hand-scribed and hand-illustrated modern Bible of extraordinary beauty and spiritual power. Any reasonably devote Jew or Christian, I suspect, would find the exhibit a spiritual experience, as I did.

    I wonder, given all the commotion about the performance, why no one is challenging NEA funding of this exhibit, or others like it. Has the conservative noise machine has concocted another tempest in a teapot, perhaps?

    The conservative noise machine has been after the NEA for as long as I can remember. Nothing new in this case.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Obviously should be “devout” not “devote”, but “devote” works, too, in an odd and twisted way.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      It should be noted that the NEA has a long history of funding religious-themed art and music. You’d never know that from the hissy fits that were thrown by the religious right in the 90s, but they do and always have. No one on the right objects to an NEA grant money that might go towards performances of oratorios or religious paintings or even traditional gospel music. It’s just the religious right who think that they should be exempt from paying for anything they don’t like. If that is the case then I want a refund of the portion of my taxes that have gone towards paying for the Iraq War which I opposed.

  2. posted by Tom Jefferson 3rd on

    If the federal government does have a program that awards grants to artists, then “equal protection under the law” means that it cannot simply have a policy of not awarding grants to gay artists or conservative Christian artists.

    Just like if the federal government has a program where groups can get non-profit status and thus many tax benefits, it cannot simply refuse such status to a gay group or a conservative Christian group.

    I think that grants for the arts can be a good thing, as can nonprofit status. They can also be a bit of pain in the you-know-what.

  3. posted by Houndentenor on

    Ugh. Are the NEA battles coming back. I thought we were done with that in the 90s.

    I have some questions that Stephen should answer (but probably won’t):

    1) Why is the right so cozy with a cult known as The Moonies which owns the right-leaning Washington Times? That’s where this article is from and knowing quite a bit about arts funding and knowing that a good deal of what is cited in this article is distorted and/or outright false I think we need a better source.

    2) Did the NEA grant this money specifically for this production? That has not been the practice at the NEA for the past 20 years or so since the infamous NEA Four hoopla of the mid 90s. Usually the grant is given directly to the producing organization. Unless this is the only thing the theater produced that season, claiming that the grant was specifically for this particular production is unfounded.

    3) No, there is not enough funding for the arts from private sources. Giving is down and arts organizations are hurting. Many are closing or making massive cuts. The entire argument made in the article is from gross ignorance and highly biased. I’m embarrassed for anyone who reads this trash much less links to it as proof of anything.

  4. posted by Lori Heine on

    The Washington Times is one of the mainstay organs of the fevered swamp. The only reason to read it is to find out what social conservatives are slobbering about now. It’s like Gay Patriot with better funding.

    IGF, like The Dish, has always been a place on the Internet where we can get away from incivility and kindergarten-level stupidity. That the Times’ readers are crying like toddlers with diaper rash because somebody else is getting government funding besides themselves is not news. I won’t even bother to follow the link.

    Where I live, the entire metropolitan area is in virtual lockdown, held hostage by the Super Bowl. The entire extravaganza is a massive waste of time as well as money. And it’s funded largely by the taxpayers.

    Unlike an artistic performance–which may be either good or bad, but doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is–professional sports are a scam. In over half a century, no team whose city has hosted the Super Bowl has ever played in it. Of course they’re always conveniently eliminated before they get that far, but idiots who follow the NFL are actually gullible enough to call this a “curse.”

    The league would lose massive amounts of money in tourism and media revenue if the host team were to play in it. If there’s a “curse” in that, it certainly isn’t supernatural in origin.

    Barely a peep from conservatives, though. Libertarians call it what it is, but as long as it celebrates artificially-pumped-up masculinity instead of acknowledging the existence of “homosexuality,” the social right is down with it.

    Gotta keep those balls inflated.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Yes. The NEA is a drop in the bucket compared to the corporate subsidies in our federal budget. And the local level pro sports teams, even the most profitable ones, will demand that cities build them a new stadium. To single out the arts while pretending that everything else isn’t being funded by the taxpayers to a far greater degree is the height of dishonesty.

      The best thing that could happen to charities and nonprofits of all kinds would be a stronger middle class. It is often assumed that private funding for charity comes from the wealthy, perhaps because of highly publicized large donations occasionally given by billionaires. The reality is that the middle class give a much larger percentage of their incomes to charity than the rich and in our current era in which wages are stagnant while the cost of living increases, charities and arts organizations are hurting.

  5. posted by Jorge on

    The project was touted by Variety as “a celebration of gay marriage” … But taxpayer advocates say the government shouldn’t be using tax dollars to promote the arts, especially when the art in question has a political agenda that not all taxpayers support.

    Seems to me that if the ship has already sailed, there’s nothing wrong with talking about history, or even the present. It’s in the same category as Michelle Obama speaking in support of that sniper movie during a speech to a veterans organization (I’m willing to bet it was a nonprofit, but I am not certain). The antidote is more blather.

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