Since when is it a “civil right” not to feel disturbed by a piece of art? And who gets to decide which art we chuck? You don’t like the “Sleepwalker,” but I don’t like “Winged Victory.” It stirs scary thoughts of decapitation. Dear Louvre, please stash that headless gal in the attic.
Where does it stop? Cultural critic Jonathan Rauch coined the term “offendedness sweepstakes” to describe our present condition: We’ve gotten to the point where almost any group can declare almost anything unnerving or politically incorrect and demand its removal. These censors automatically win because anyone who demurs is criminally callous. That explains how, in October, some colleges in England banned the Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines.” Students there claimed that this catchy tune I happily listen to with my own family somehow perpetuated “rape culture.”
While no one would ever deny the misery of real-life traumas like rape and assault, including the lingering trauma of flashing back on them, since when is it the job of a university to make sure its students never encounter material with unhappy associations? Art is a trigger.