Re: Ashcroft Antics

From: J Corbally (
Date: Thu Jan 31 2002 - 16:52:42 MST

>Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 20:45:24 -0500
>From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
>Subject: Re: Ashcroft Antics
>Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> >
> > > John Ashcroft doesn't like the bare-breasted statue of Justice. He makes
> > > the decision to have the statue covered up while he's Attorney General.
> > > In what way is this bad? As far as I can tell, he's just optimizing his
> > > personal space according to his preferences. Sure, it would be wrong if
> > > Ashcroft tried to impose this preference on others, but the above
> article
> > > gives no evidence that he has done so or plans to do so.
> >
> > Legally, he probably does have the discretion to decide how to spend
> > the justice department's budget on art, and he can make judgments about
> > the esthetic value of that art. But when generations of his predecessors
> > all worked hard to create and preserve that particular piece, it seems
> > something of a slap in their face to vandalize it. At least his change
> > is removable so they next AG with more sense can fix it.
>That's my point - at some point, even in a libertarian government, someone
>needs to have personal responsibility for the artistic appearance of
>public buildings.

Responsible to the public, yes. To his own sensitivities, no.

>There is nothing wrong with Ashcroft taking charge of
>the appearance of his building.

There is. It is the peoples building, not "his".

>Curtains are not "vandalism" and he is
>not destroying his predecessors' efforts, just temporarily switching them

"Switching them off?"

>Sure, Ashcroft's decision may only be temporary; sure, we may
>disagree with it; my point is that is that it is legitimately Ashcroft's

Not so sure about the legitimacy of it Anyone here know where the U.S.
constitution stands on this?

>How would we feel if a transhumanist Attorney General were
>mocked in the media for putting a curtain over, say, a painting of God
>judging sinners?

If he did it to a private work, he'd deserve the roasting he'd get. If he
did it to a public work on a govt. building, then we'd have to ask why
there was a religious monument there in the first place. He'd be operating
within the constitution if he removed it I believe.

I'd rather see breasts on a public building than a god, but I'm a European
after all :)


>- -- -- -- -- --
>Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
>Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and
crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures
to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."
-Q, Star Trek:TNG episode 'Q Who'

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