A new battle in Washington has developed, and this time it’s between the freedom of speech of a Ferguson, Missouri, teenager and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Along with killing the Affordable Care Act, Ryan doesn’t seem to like Freedom of Speech much, either.
The controversy centers on a painting from high school student David Pulphus, depicting the events in Ferguson and the killing of Michael Brown. The featured image of the painting is a police officer made to look like a pig, and in the background of the work is a sign that reads “Racism Kill.” The painting was added to the Capitol Hill gallery after winning an annual art competition last May.
Paul Ryan doesn’t like the painting, and along with other GOP lawmakers who didn’t appreciate the student’s perspective, removed it from the display.
However, Democratic congressman, William Lacy Clay, keeps putting it back up. The winning student is one of Clay’s district constituents. According to CNN, Clay rehanged the painting three times on Tuesday after Republicans in the House repeatedly took it down.
Ryan called the painting “disgusting” and “not befitting the Capitol” and claims that it’s against House rules to display art that’s gruesome.
Ryan addressed the painting during a radio interview on the Mike Gallagher show, saying that the student’s First Amendment rights weren’t the issue.
‘This isn’t a question of First Amendment rights. Of course, this young person has the right to do something like this wherever they want to, But we do have rules that govern these paintings, so it’s not as if you have a constitutional right to hang whatever you want in the House hallway in the Capitol gallery.’
Ryan seems confused about the meaning of “First Amendment rights” and to whom the Capitol building actually belongs.
Republicans are really clutching their pearls over this one, and GOP Rep. Dave Reichert, himself a former sheriff, sent the rules for artwork in the Capitol to its architect, which does not allow art with subjects of “contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.
Ryan is adamant about removal of the painting and is confident it will be removed for good.
‘This is not a free-for-all, you know, contest, where anything goes in the Capitol. There are rules that govern this. We see that this does not fit the rules, and so we are processing that decision right now.’
It seems that the image of the police officer as a pig has outraged the GOP house members so much that they haven’t truly looked at the painting. In fact, the “pig” seems to be a “boar” and his opponent, perhaps Michael Brown, is depicted as a wolf. There’s more going on in this painting than the GOP House members are willing to see.
Confronting and addressing the issues the U.S. has had with its police officers could only increase the efficiency of the force, and the safety of both the public and the officers themselves. But that would take admitting that we have a problem.
This video from CNN covers the controversy.
Featured image via video screenshot.