In September, when New York’s Mayor Rudolph Giuliani began railing against an art exhibit about to open at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, we at CLAGS recognized a sadly familiar tune. We had become all too acquainted with attacks on public support for dissenting and minority views during the long struggle over the National Endowment for the Arts—in that instance, propelled by homophobic and anti-feminist charges of “obscenity”—as well as during more recent attacks on a women’s conference on sexuality at SUNY-New Paltz, on queer studies events at New York University, on plays with gay or lesbian characters all over the country, and on and on.
Believing that dissenting views deserve to be aired not only to preserve the First Amendment, but also for the sake of their own positive contributions to public discourse and debate, we decided to write to the Mayor. Our letter appears on the facing page. The reply from the Mayor’s office follows below.