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Mozart Didn't Need It

DISSENT:

By Matthew J. Mcdonald

ATTEMPTING to justify printing the above "lyrics" three times in the last seven days, the staff makes an incoherent analogy which confuses several issues.

The underlying reference in the above editorial, in case you didn't get it, is to the late Robert Mapplethorpe. Just because he took six photographs of the piss-in-your-neighbor's-mouth variety, the argument goes, people shouldn't fail to recognize the remarkable quality and skill he demonstrated in his other work. Neither should the myriad of high-quality, unoffensive artistic specimens he provided be banned.

Maybe, but the staff utterly misses the point of the NEA controversy. The real questions go something like this: Why did Mapplethorpe, ndependently wealthy, free-spending and high-living, need an NEA grant in the first place? And, should taxpayers' money fund projects that taxpayers don't like or want?

The staff also confuses the free speech/obscenity issue. There are no such things as absolute rights, and the First Amendment's free-speech guarantee does not protect obscenity. That said, the challenge is to figure out what is and is not obscene. If 2 Live Crew ever does a version of Mozart's "Magic Flute," no one except music lovers will complain. The unedited "Me So Horny" is another matter.

As for The Harvard Gazette, if the administration's mouthpiece chooses to demonstrate good taste and judgment, that's its business. No one ever said The Crimson had to.

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