Last week, Lori Haigh, owner of the Capobianco Gallery in San Francisco's North Beach, was punched in the face because she exhibited a painting of one of the incidents at Abu Ghurayb. Prior to being physically assaulted, Haigh's gallery had been vandalized, and she had been spat at and threatened with death. Fearing for her children, she closed the gallery, but a number of volunteers have since come forward and offered to serve as a security force if she will open the gallery again. The volunteers realize that any assault on a piece of art puts all art in danger.
Also last week, Steve Kurtz of Buffalo called 911 when his wife died in her sleep of cardiac arrest. He got help, all right. The police arrived and confiscated Kurtz's computers, art supplies, and manuscripts. For good measure, they also took his wife's body.
Kurtz, an art professor, is a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, but he was arrested on suspicion of being a bioterrorist. The equipment Professor Kurtz had in his house was legally obtained, and none of it could have possibly been used to create terrorist havoc. But that didn't stop the police from creating a nightmare for a man who had just discovered his wife dead.
There is no longer any freedom of expression guaranteed by the U.S. government. Under the alleged leadership of a right-wing philistine (why do those two things so often go together?), the government can now do anything it wants. If your senators and Congresspeople voted for the Patriot Act, they are partly to blame for this, and they should pay.