Freedom of speech includes art

The aftershocks from Sept. 11, 2001, continued Wednesday in New York City. A sculpture, depicting a woman falling to her death as a result of the terrorist attacks, was on display in the lobby of Rockefeller Center. After many complaints, the Center staff decided to cover the statue, titled, “Tumbling Woman.” The statue, while it may be disturbing, is a form of expression, should be left uncovered so people are allowed to make their own choice whether they see it.
Art can stir deep emotions, even disturbing ones, in people. To some people this is unacceptable. To others it is an integral part of self-expression that can open people up to healing and illuminate different parts of humanity.
While officials at Rockefeller Center followed their gut instincts and covered the statue, they should unveil it as soon as possible.
No one wants to be accused of insensitivity regarding Sept. 11, but at some point rationality must rule the day. Art is art, and this sculpture is not meant to dehumanize a moment in history. The sculptor, Eric Fischl, said of the sculpture, “It was a sincere expression of deepest sympathy for the vulnerability of the human condition.”
The bronze statue should be uncovered and viewed. People need to make the individual choice whether they will go see it. Some may feel it is inappropriate; others may flock to it.
But the choice has to be personal, and for personal reasons. Whether curiosity seekers, mourners or critics patronize it is irrelevant.
We have burned books and banned songs from the radio. Covering this statue is another way to deny free speech.
People must determine what it means to them, just as people had to determine what Sept. 11 meant to them.
The important thing to remember is that no one else should be able to make that choice.