Monday, August 10, 2009

The Arts Are a "Little Gay"

It comes as a great pleasure to read that the new head of the National Endowment for the Arts. Rocco Landesman, is not afraid to confront those who disparage the arts community by using thinly veiled homophobic insults. Homophobia is behind much of the move to diminish the role of the arts in our lives, our economy and our community. The barbarians in our midst must not be allowed to turn our civilization back to one where pitchforks and bonfires meted out community standards.
That kind of thinking suggests that “artists don’t have kids to send to college,” Mr. Landesman said, “or food to put on the table, or medical bills to pay.”

In American politics generally, he added: “The arts are a little bit of a target. The subtext is that it is elitist, left wing, maybe even a little gay.”

The Full Interview with Landesman in the New York Times is encouraging.

We have been seeing increasing amounts of hate speech being openly (and anonymously) posted in the Berkshire Eagle bashing the LGBTQ community, side by side with more vitriol about how "elitist" and "sissified" the arts are. These slurs seem to come primarily from people whom our schools have failed. Their poor grasp of English is invariably a telltale sign of their incomplete education which seems to go hand in hand with their failed attitudes.

Perhaps it is time that the local papers made these anonymous idiots identify themselves publicity. It's not just gays, or culture they attack. The vitriol hurled at virtually everything our elected officials try to accomplish is poisonous. Civility has left the pages of the paper. It's one thing to allow discussion and dissent, but the level of discourse is strictly schoolyard. Most of the posters are nothing but a mob dragging down the Berkshires by their constant cowardly attacks. Strip away the anonymity, and these bullies and blowhards would melt back into the background where they belong.

The first thing to recognize is that artists are working people, and they work hard. They often earn mediocre wages, and most supplement their income as artists with second jobs. Hell, if you get a waitperson who is really nice, really good at remembering who ordered what and attentive and observant to the needs of your table, you probably are being served by an actor who regularly has to remember lines, blocking and a million details in performing a role. They deserve a lot of respect.

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