Last year, freshly installed governor of Maine Paul LePage seemed carried away with his new capacity when he ordered an 11-panel mural about the state's labor history removed from the Labor Department lobby. He said it showed a one-sided view of history that ignored the contributions of business. Which is a little like saying that a painting of, say, a mother and child shouldn’t be seen because it doesn’t credit a father’s contribution.
Ridiculous, right? Apparently not.
When a group in Maine objected to Le Page’s order and filed a lawsuit claiming that he violated the mural artist’s First Amendment rights, the courts ruled that LePage was entitled to “government speech.”
In the end, the Maine State Museum rescued the mural and installed it in the atrium leading to the museum.
Of course, LePage’s action wasn’t the first time that government censored art.
In 1934, a painting hanging at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. – “Our Fleet's In” by Paul Cadmus - was removed at the insistence of the U.S. Navy because of the subject matter: sailors reveling with women.
The U.S. government has even allowed a foreign power to censor a show on American soil. New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art cancelled a show of biblical artifacts from an East Jerusalem museum in 1982 as a result of pressure from the Arab world, which contested Israel's control of the area.
Members of Congress have also practice cultural regimentation, http://www.examiner.com/article/trying-to-be-relevant-glenn-beck-tries-ridiculing-art as seen in their objection to the picturing of homosexual love in art. I’m thinking of the Rev. Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, who was bent on combatting “indecency” in art in the belief that picture-making should be “morally and spiritually uplifting.”
Even Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda and public education, thought that allowing only uplifting art to the exclusion of all other was a bad idea: “To have only classicism on the one hand and harmless trivialization on the other is not enough for our time,” he said.