The Assassination of Hillary Clinton, The Assassination of Barak Obama
Police Shut Down Artists Assassination Show – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog: In what would seem to me to be a clear case of censorship and an attack on Freedom of Speech, New York City police and Secret Service agents have shut down an installation by New York artist Yazmany Arboleda which involved the phrases “The Assassination of Hillary Clinton” and “The Assassination of Barak Obama” being stenciled on a plate glass window on West 40th Street in downtown Manhattan.
Arboleda, according to the New York Times, was “led” off to the Midtown South police precinct for what he called an interrogation.
Apparently Arboleda was renting the gallery space in question for an art show that was to open on Thursday and run all day.
From the Times:
“Later, Mr. Arboleda, who is 27, said in an interview: “It’s art. It’s not supposed to be harmful. It’s about character assassination — about how Obama and Hillary have been portrayed by the media.” He added, “It’s about the media.”
“The Secret Service had to do a whole questionnaire with me,” he said. “It was about an hour of questioning. They asked if I owned guns, if I was a violent person, if I had ever been institutionalized.”
Mr. Arboleda answered no. Nonetheless, he said the Secret Service asked him if he would voluntarily take down the exhibition title from the window.
“I’m renting that space; the space was allocated for an exhibition and it’s my right to put those words up,” he said. “They said it could incite someone to do something crazy, like break the window. It’s terrible, because they’re violating my rights. If someone breaks a window, they’re committing a crime.”
He added, “The exhibition is supposed to be about character assassination. It’s philosophical and metaphorical.”
Apparently the stenciled letters have now been covered over with brown paper and blue masking tape censoring the words stenciled by the artist.
Although free speech is not without limits (you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater for instance) it would seem to me that simply stenciling letters on a building saying nothing more than “the assassination of Hillary Clinton” and “the assassination of Barak Obama” should not fall under the same sort of category. Didn’t Hillary Clinton in fact mention the assassination of Robert Kennedy as one of the reasons why she was staying in the race?
Is the “a” word in this case really off limits for artists to present and talk about? Aren’t artists supposed to present society with confrontations about things that might make us uncomfortable? Isn’t exploring why specific words might make us uncomfortable itself worth exploring? Is the “a” word officially taboo like the bomb word at an airport might be? Taboo enough to have your show censored and “led” downtown for interrogation by the cops?
It’s important to note that this was not graffiti art, this was legitimate gallery space rented by an artist for his show.