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Editor’s Letter

Ida Panicelli

As I write, the U.S. Senate, by a large majority, has just passed another Jesse Helms spending-bill amendment, this one worded to bar the National Endowment for the Arts from funding work that depicts “sexual or excretory activities or organs” in an “offensive way.” The amendment isn’t law yet—the House of Representatives has still to vote on it, and may revise or reject it. But in the Senate, clearly, conservatives have scored another point in their campaign to impose their own fixed ethical codes on art.

Racial, moral, and religious issues are always open to cynical exploitation by politicians, but never more so than in times of economic uncertainty. The agenda is large: both control of open social dissent, and a smoke screen to conceal the real causes of the problems we face from those who have not yet figured them out. We have learned from past and recent history that free creativity

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