A Selective Timeline of Censorship in the U.S.A.

The House of Representatives passes a flag protection amendment giving Congress and state legislatures authority to outlaw the physical desecration of the American flag. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) goes into effect. This new law requires public and school libraries receiving federal assistance for Internet connections to install filters on all computers.
In response to a photograph by Renee Cox shown at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York Mayor Guiliani announces the formation of a decency committee to explore the possibilities of controlling the content of art shown in city-funded institution.

Renee Cox, Yo Mama’s Last Supper


Catholic groups in Santa Fe, New Mexico attack a computer-edited photo collage by Los Angeles artist Alma López. The Museum of New Mexico Committee on Sensitive Materials recommends that the work remain on display but shortens the duration of the whole exhibit.

Alma Lopez, “Our Lady,” 1999

Laura Ferguson’s drawings of nudes, featured in a touring exhibition organized by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, are censored when the show comes to the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. Senator Mitch McConnell’s staff director Tamara Somerville affirms that the Senate censors representations of nudity and violence.

Laura Ferguson, Kneeling Figure with Visible Skeleton, oils, bronze powder, charcoal, 21.5x16.5

The Museum of the City of New York censors more than 75% of the images and text in a number of health education posters included in AIDS: A LIVING ARCHIVE, an exhibit on the history of the AIDS epidemic. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which co-sponsors the exhibit, acquiesces.

NEA Chairman Bill Ivey rejects a grant application for Family Fundamentals, a documentary film by Arthur Dong profiling families with gay adult children. The grant had been recommended by the agency’s media arts pane

The FCC issues new guidelines indicating that innuendo and context are factors in determining whether a record violates its decency standards, regardless of the specific words. Using the new guidelines the FCC fines two radio stations $7000 each for airing the “clean version” of Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady and Sarah Jones’ Your Revolution. Jones sues the FCC.

A group including 21 state lawmakers files suit against the University of Indiana to halt the production of the Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi. The courts reject their claims.






Alex Donis, War (selections) oil and enamel on canvas        

Claiming threats of violence, the Los Angeles City Cultural Affairs Department (LACAD) cancels War, a painting installation by L.A.-based artist Alex Donis, due to open at the Watts Towers Arts Center in September.
Bruce Springsteen CDs, Disney videos, and books, including Harry Potter, are burned at the Harvest Assembly of God Church near Pittsburgh for being “ungodly”.
On New Year’s Eve The Christ Community Church of Alamogordo, New Mexico burns Harry Potter and other books, including novels written by J.R.R. Tolkein, Star Wars material, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

The Boondocks Thanksgiving day strip is removed from the Dallas Morning News because it is critical of President Bush.
NEA acting chairman Robert Martin rejects a grant to the Maine College of Art for an exhibition of the work of performance artist William Pope L. The grant had been approved by a review panel and by the National Council on the Arts.