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STATEMENT OF MR. PATRICK A. TRUEMAN, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. Trueman. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. For the past 8 years, since 1989, American Family Association has been leading an effort to encourage congress not to fund the National Endowment for the Arts. That's because of many objectionable works that the National Endowment has funded.
It started with Andres Serrano's work “Piss Christ,” which was a crucifix submerged in the artist's urine. That outraged a great segment of the American public and brought this issue to national attention.
Year after year the National Endowment for the Arts has also funded a great amount of pornography. During the Reagan and Bush years, the end of the Reagan administration through the Bush administration, I was the Section Chief for the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the U.S. Justice Department's Criminal Division. Part of my job was to make prosecutorial decisions on material that we thought was obscene or child pornography. Part of my job, as supervisor of the office was to review and make prosecutorial decisions on both adult and child pornography.
I have had the opportunity to review a number of works funded by the National Endowment for the Arts over the years, including over the last couple of years under Jane Alexander, the Chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts today. And it's my legal opinion that much of what we prosecuted successfully in those years and received convictions on is no different than that that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts today or distributed through grants by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Further, I submit that the National Endowment for the Arts poses a direct threat to the prosecution of obscenity cases as well as child pornography cases.
I don't have time to develop this argument in my oral testimony. It's in my written testimony. But let me truncate that portion of my testimony by saying that as part of the federal obscenity test, the Supreme has established a standard that requires that a jury must make a finding that the work is without artistic value. And, of course, when the National Endowment for the Arts puts its seal of approval or seal on a work that may be obscene, when this work would go to the jury if a work were to be prosecuted, a defense argument would be it certainly doesn't meet the third part of the Miller v. California test because the National Endowment for the Arts believes it is art.
Also, under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, in an obscenity case, a defense attorney can bring in what are known as comparables or comparable material to argue that the material that has been indicted in the case is not obscene.
Here is a funded work by the National Endowment for the Arts, “Nitrate Kisses,” that came up in the testimony of Chairwoman Alexander, funded in the Bush administration. But currently the distribution of this video is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts through a grant to Canyon Cinema, which puts this in their current catalog. This is a video that has substantial depictions of oral sex between lesbians as well as fisting between lesbians. I am sorry to offend you by these terms. But if this were to be prosecuted or a similar work were to be prosecuted, the defense attorney could bring this video in and say, “Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Therefore, the third part of the Miller test is not met, and it cannot be found to be obscene.”
Other publications that I have reviewed from the National Endowment for the Arts include those by three organizations, one called FC2, which came up in previous testimony. FC2 is a unit of University of Illinois in Normal, Illinois.
Here is a funded work under Chairman Alexander called “Blood of Mugwump: A Tiresian Tale of Incest.” My legal opinion after looking at several pages in this is that a grand jury in most federal jurisdictions in the country would find this tale of incest to be obscene. It can't be found to be child pornography because it's not reduced to pictures, but it can be found to be obscene, currently funded by the National Endowment for the Arts through FC2.
Other publications that I have reviewed from FC2 are “S&M,”-it stands-well, it's self-explanatory-”A Mexican Trilogy," and these publications deal with sadomasochistic sexual acts, child sex acts, sex between a nun and several priests, sodomy, incest, hetero and homosexual sex, et cetera.
My point is that the National Endowment for the Arts, despite any of the reforms that this Congress has imposed, continues to allow funding of FC2 for this kind of material that most Americans and I hope this committee as well would find to be objectionable.
The National Endowment for the Arts has also funded Women Making Movies. I've got a copy of their publication here, their catalog. We purchased one of the videos from this catalog, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The distribution of the catalog was, with many works that I think the committee would find objectionable. I hope you will take a look here.
One of the works is called “Blood Sisters.” I viewed this videotape. I have portions of it here, which we're going to distribute to Congress. Because it has substantial depictions of sadomasochistic sex between lesbians, whippings, piercings, actual sex acts, violent humiliation and domination sex acts, very similar to material that we received convictions on, obscenity convictions, across the country during the five years that I was in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.
My point in bringing all of this up is that: How can Congress expect the American public, common citizens, to obey the rule of law, to respect the rule of law, when this Congress knowingly funds year after year an agency that has for more than a decade funded this kind of works?
Chairwoman Alexander said it's only 45 or so out of a great number of works. How would someone who was caught speeding say, “Well, I only speed or I only get caught drunk driving three or four times a year. And so that's not very serious?"
The point is if the National Endowment for the Arts had wanted to reform, it wouldn't continue to fund this kind of works. It wouldn't continue to fund obscene material. It could very easily avoid all of that sexually explicit hard-core pornography and concentrate on the very good things that this committee and many members of this committee have talked about that it has done. And American Family Association certainly wouldn't be objecting to it.
And so I just conclude that the National Endowment for the Arts won't change. It hasn't changed. And we ask that it be eliminated.
(The statement of Mr. Trueman follows:)
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MR. PATRICK A. TRUEMAN, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D.C. - SEE APPENDIX K
Mr. Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Trueman.
Our next witness is Mr. Alex Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin is a well-known actor who has been a featured performer in several major motion pictures. He is the President of the Creative Coalition. Mr. Baldwin, thank you for being here. You are recognized. You may proceed with your testimony.
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STATEMENT OF MR. ALEC BALDWIN, PRESIDENT, CREATIVE COALITION,
Mr. Baldwin. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I'd like to begin, with your permission, by asking that my entire testimony be entered into the record when we're done. And I'm just going to make some comments in and around that.
I'd like to begin by sharing with you something that as a father, I was quite touched by. This is a card that was sent to the National Endowment for the Arts. And it reads inside here, “We are the third grade class at Kalamazoo Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We enjoyed a performance by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. Thank you for helping to make the performance possible.”
The National Endowment for the Arts gave a $10,000 grant to the Kalamazoo Symphony Society through education and access to support education programs, including youth concerts.
Also I have a letter here to the National Endowment for the Arts dated April 11th, 1997, from the OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, “We wish to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the National Endowment for the Arts for the recommendation of a grant in the amount of $60,000 to support the 1997 OK Mozart International Festival.
“The arts have a profound effect on the psyche of a people. We sincerely hope that our government will continue to recognize this fact, continuing to provide support for the arts organizations all over the country. The good you do cannot always be measured by cold, hard numbers, but it is reflected in the hearts and souls of our nation's citizens. We fear that in many cases the private sector either could not or would not make up the difference in support of the arts if the National Endowment for the Arts were to cease to exist. We have been and always will be staunch, vocal advocates of the importance of the National Endowment for the Arts.” That's from the OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
I'd like to share with you, if I may, a quote that I believe reflects upon the wisdom of our forefathers. In a letter to his wife, John Adams wrote in 1780, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, and naval architecture, navigation, commerce,
and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, and architecture.” John Adams knew back then the power of the arts to bond us together as a new country and help our civilization endure and flourish.
The preamble to the Constitution states, “It is our intent to promote the general welfare of the United States.” And in the year 1788, this country's first president, George Washington, went on to declare that both “arts and sciences are essential to the prosperity of the state and to the omament and happiness of human life.”
In varying degrees, the government has always played a positive role to help nourish the body, mind, and spirit of its people. And, as John Adams' letter describes, it is only after several generations and several wars that we as a nation have been able to more fully engage our children in the education of the arts.
In fact, it is now through the arts that we can learn about our history, be it from ancient scripture drawings recently found in the caves of France to the sobering, yet healing, scriptures of the Vietnam Memorial here in Washington or the memorial to victims of the bombing in Oklahoma City. The arts give respectful homage to these important moments in time. And it is the National Endowment for the Arts that has played a leadership role in guiding our small investment in the arts to many appropriate and worthy projects.
While the arts have existed long before this country was born, let alone before the National Endowment for the Arts was created in 1965, the real question before this congressional subcommittee is to determine the measurable public impact that the NEA has had on the arts in the United States over the last 30 years. I would
advocate that the arts have indeed flourished in the United States in large part because of the NEA's grants and that the federal government should recommit itself to the American people and continue providing public support and leadership to the arts.
While no government can call into existence a great artist or great work of art, the National Endowment for the Arts has strengthened a fertile environment to allow the arts to flourish and to encourage those; in particular, children, who show signs of early talent to use it.
Today, America is the world capital of creativity and imagination in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Artists who receive NEA fellowships at pivotal points in their careers have gone on to win over 50 Pulitzer prizes, 25 National Book awards, 50 MacArthur Genius awards, and numerous Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy awards.
For over 30 years, the NEA has supported thousands of cultural programs to make the arts accessible to the general public at little or no cost. For example, the NEA has supported programs such as Washington Shakespeare free for all, the National Symphony Orchestra's free concert on the Mall on the Fourth of July, free outdoor jazz and music festivals in hundreds of towns throughout the country, and free public broadcasting of great master works performed at the Metropolitan Opera.
In the area of our children, extensive longitudinal studies continue to demonstrate that education is the greatest tool we have to ensure a child's healthy developmental success to grow into an intelligent, gainfully employed, and contributing member of society, regardless of socioeconomic background. However, what we are learning from the newest research studies coming out on brain development in early years is quite unique.
New scientific research which has been highlighted in hundreds of newspapers and magazines and most recently at the White House conference on early childhood, development, and learning now confirms what we as parents have always instinctively known, that singing, music, laughter, and nursery rhymes engage our children, especially between the ages of zero to three years of age, and have a dramatic impact on their brain development and their ability to leam and further develop throughout their lives.
Benefits of arts education in the later years of a child's life speak to themselves when we review the findings of a 1995 study conducted by the College Entrance Examination Board, which administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test, SATs. The College Board found that students who have studied the arts for more than 4 years score 53 points higher on the verbal and 37 points higher on the math portions of the SATs than students with no course work or experience in the arts.
And, in closing, I would like to say that some more intense members of Congress who are unfairly prejudicial of the NEA have proposed that Hollywood celebrities who advocate for federal funding of the arts should simply tie one percent of their earnings to create an American endowment for the arts to replace the federal government's responsibilities in this area. To this meritless statement, I have some specific responses.
This statement highlights a serious lack of appreciation and understanding of the will of the American people. This statement shows that some of our nationally clected officials have simply stopped listening to American taxpayers.
According to a 1996 Lou Harris survey, by a 57 to 39 percent margin, a clear majority of Americans want a portion of their tax dollars to be spent on the federal government funding of the arts. As a true test of the American people's commitment, a full 61 to 37 percent would be willing to be taxed 5 percent or more to pay for federal financial support of the arts.
In closing, I believe that the American people want to maintain this country's federal role in support of the arts and that there was no viable alternative to replace the unique value of the NEA.
(The statement of Mr. Baldwin follows:)
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MR. ALEC BALDWIN, PRESIDENT, CREATIVE COALITION, ACTOR, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK - SEE APPENDIX L
Mr. Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Baldwin.
Our next witness is Mr. Ben Stein. He is an actor, writer, and professor of economics at Pepperdine University in Southern California. I have a note here saying he's a graduate of Yale Law School with the First Lady and is a trial lawyer and a prolific writer, a columnist in the Wall Street Journal on the arts, a script writer, novelist, and also writer of nonfiction. Mr. Stein, nice to have you with us. You're recognized. You may proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR BEN STEIN, ACTOR, WRITER, AND PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
Mr. Stein. Thank you very much. I appreciate very much being in the Carl Perkins Room because I always thought that his version of “Blue Suede Shoes” was even better than the King's. I know that. That was a joke. I wrote it myself. So it's not that good.
Thank you very much for having me here. I am not going to issue a pronunciamento so much as to offer a framework for analysis of the federal funding for the NEA. I'm going to ask about four questions.
The first question is: Why should the taxpayers-and note that I say not the government because, of course, it's the taxpayer's money. It's the guy who's working two jobs. It's the fireman working the graveyard shift. Why should his money be taken to support the arts?
Second, what is art? I'm going to answer it very briefly.
Third, what is an artist?
And, fourth, what is a trustee or an NEA chairperson supposed to do? And to whom is that person responsible?
The first question, why should the factory worker or the emergency room nurse pay, take any money at all out of her income to pay for art? In my experience, what is called by itself the art world is not morally superior to any other world. And based on knowing a great many men and women in California who call themselves artists, I can say that I don't consider them morally superior people, by and large.
But art, really great art, can elevate people's lives, open their eyes, make them less lonely, can redeem life itself. And that's why one of my heroes, Adam Smith, said in the “Wealth of Nations that there was a limited role for government in supporting art and making it available to people who would not otherwise have it. This it seems to me is a legitimate use of taxpayers' money to bring great art and pass it on to people who cannot afford or are otherwise not able to have it.