A coalition of 27 Republican members of the lower house of the U.S. Congress have signed a resolution, H. Res. 211, which would give official congressional endorsement of an archaic religious law that is strikingly similar to the Taliban’s law banning almost all forms of artwork. The religious edict celebrated by the resolution outlaws any art that contains any representation of anything that can be found in the sky, in the water or on the ground.
The anti-art coalition in Congress claims that this old religious code is a part of the foundation of American law, and should be celebrated with an entire weekend of observations across the United States. What form would these observations take? Presumably, they would focus on a weekend without art. American painters would put down their brushes. Sculptors would stop chiseling. Cameras would be locked away.
No art for two days… and what would be the benefit of that?
The legislation, authored by Texas Republican Louis Gohmert, asserts that a ban on artwork is a “fundamental” part of “a fair and just society”. That’s not consistent, however, with the Constitution. The Constitution, in the First Amendment, guarantees the right of free speech and the freedom of the press, both confirming the liberty of artists to create works that represent whatever they wish, in accordance with their personal vision. Nowhere in the Constitution is there any authorization of censorship of art. Furthermore, the Constitution requires the government to abstain from enforcing religious laws such as the one praised in H. Res. 211.
The religious law supported by H. Res. 211? It’s the Ten Commandments. Many people have gotten into the habit of fawning praise of the Ten Commandments, but take a look at what they actually say, and you may feel less inclined to celebrate them.