NEW YORK TIMES October 4, 2017
To the Editor:
Re “Artists Blast Guggenheim for Yielding to Protesters” (Arts pages, Sept. 27):
I am all but a free speech absolutist, and hence if an animated film, painting or work of fiction depicted or even celebrated cruel acts against animals, I would defend the right to exhibit or publish those forms of artistic expression, even as I would find those expressions abhorrent.
But that is not the case in the Guggenheim exhibit. There, living creatures are the subject of the artistic expression, and that fundamentally changes things. The Guggenheim’s defense of the exhibit — that art can and should be “upsetting” — misconstrues the purpose of art and of free expression. Yes, art should be “upsetting” to those who choose to view the art, but not to the involuntary subjects of the art.
Just as fighting words, threats and inciting immediate violence are not protected forms of expression, neither is cruelty against animals.
BENJAMIN SCHWARZ, EXETER, N.H.