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  1. "While the public may have been more focused on the controversy over Chris Ofili using elephant dung in a portrait of the Virgin Mary, the museum world was appalled by the level of control that the lender, Charles Saatchi, played in the development of the exhibition, and the way in which his financial support and influence were obscured." Perhaps but the larger issue was then Mayor Giuliani cutting funding to the museum because of the exhibit and the push back came in the form of a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union for statements that clearly had xenophobic undertones. Giuliani came under fire from all directions and was at the height of unpopularity that came to be altered his heroism in the devastating Sept 11 tragedy.

  2. These discussion are not new. I remember when, in the early 1970s, we went to our college administration and asked them to refuse donations from companies making anti-personnel devices used in Vietnam. The reply was that perhaps we need to find a new source of funds to make up the difference, otherwise the college could suffer. That gave us reason to ponder the possible consequences of taking a stand. I think that finally a constitutent with more clout and money that we poor studients stepped in and provided the source of funds. The conversation was useful for all of us and eventually motivated change. But respectful conversation from both sides was critical. Self-righteousness from the left (a place where I find most of my sympathies reside) is equally as bad as self-righteousness from the right. So who will make up the funding gap if donors' contributions are rejected? And do those asking for ethical purity on the part of others practice that purity in their own lives, denying themselves the use of fossil fuels to stop suppporting people like David Koch? It is important that the petition stimulates conversations but the petition cannot become a bludgeon of self-righteousness that undermines the conversations that might lead to solutions.

  3. It would seem that the primary issue is not whether supporters' personal ideologies might differ but just how much control over content is expected (or granted) in exchange for a contribution? When an individual with a particularly vocal and well-known ideological bent suddenly becomes a major contributor to a presentation of material, seemingly calling positive attention to positions or issues to which he has been adamantly opposed, it begs the question why? Whether PBS programs like Nova (also heavily supported by Koch) or the previously mentioned museums, has that individual suddenly had a change of heart and mind? More realistically (and cynically, I admit), such a contradiction is more likely explained by that individual simply taking advantage of the opportunity to influence the "opposition" and control the message, to whatever extent possible..more and more as time goes on, quite possibly. Lies of omission are just as deceptive as overt mis-truths. Perhaps more so, as the truth is presumed to be contained in the telling of the entire story, presuming that the entire story is, in fact, being told. "Editorial license" can be a dangerous weapon. Certainly, respectful conversation from both sides is necessary and, ideally, common ground can usually be found. However, when social and scientific issues are, on one hand, derided and sabotaged by an influential person, then we find his or her name attached to presentations that would seem to be most decidedly in opposition to his previously heralded belief system, it is very curious, indeed. So, do we do without the funding? Well, which costs us more..squelching ideas or not having the money to present them, in the first place?

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