There are too many adjectives available to describe this story, none of them pretty. Dumb, stupid, embarrassing… take your pick. John Sexton brought us this tale back on January 6th, when it came to the attention of the nation that a painting was hanging in the Cannon Tunnel on Capitol Hill which depicted police officers as pigs who are brutalizing black citizens. Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter took the painting down, calling it offensive, and set off a battle which is more fitting of a middle school lunchroom than the halls of Congress.
That culminated with an announcement that the Congressional Black Caucus would be rehanging the painting today. (Fox News)
Democratic lawmakers plan to rehang a controversial painting on Capitol Hill that angered law enforcement groups with its depiction of police officers as pigs, after Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter personally took down the picture last week.
A Monday press release from the Congressional Black Caucus and Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., whose office for months had sponsored the display of the student artwork, announced that Clay and CBC members will “rehang” the piece Tuesday morning in the Cannon Tunnel.
“The rehanging of this painting for public view represents more than just protecting the rights of a student artist, it is a proud statement in defense of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression to every American,” the statement said, noting it had been “removed without permission or proper authority” by Hunter.
They made good on their word and Congressman Lacy Clay of the CBC replaced the picture earlier today. There are plenty of photos of it at the links provided, but I’m not going to include one here because it’s simply too revolting.
I don’t want to spend too much time on this story, but it would be nice to see a return to some sense of normalcy in Congress this year. This isn’t a First Amendment question in any sense of the word. Nobody is saying that an artist – even one in high school – can’t paint a patently offensive piece of “art” such as this. That’s their right in a free society. But Congress is under no obligation to display anything this obviously distasteful and offensive in a taxpayer funded building. The fact that the painting specifically targets the police in Ferguson, Missouri and includes a figure holding his hands up makes it all the worse. For those of you who somehow never heard, the entire “hands up don’t shoot” thing has long since been proven to be a lie, as even some of the most liberal opinion writers in the country were eventually forced to admit.
Our government is charged with enforcing the law as well as making it. The police are the primary resource for making that happen. This sort of insulting display not only fails to support law enforcement, but actively disparages our first responders. And creating a situation where members of Congress are fighting over this as if they are classmates of the kid who painted it makes a mockery of the legislative branch.
So what happens to it next? According to Hunter, this sad affair may be playing out over and over again.
“Lacy can put it back up, I guess, if he wants to,” Hunter told FoxNews.com at the time, “but I’m allowed to take it down.”
Since this is legislative branch property I don’t think there’s even anything that Trump can do about it once he’s in office. Then again, he’s defied expectations (and the rules) before, so who knows? I just hope this is over soon and the painting goes elsewhere.