It’s been big news, so you’ve probably read about it already.
According to the BBC report:
A pair of risque Art Deco statues at the US Justice Department has been quietly put back on uncensored display, three years after a mysterious cover-up.
Majesty of Justice and Spirit of Justice depict a partially nude man and a woman with one breast fully exposed.
The two sculptures, in the building’s famous Great Hall, were covered during the tenure of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, a devout Christian.
BBC: Curtains up on risque US statues
Of course, no one could manage to get Ashcroft to come out and take responsibility for the cover-up, which cost taxpayers about $8000.
According to the Washington Post:
Justice officials long insisted that the curtains were put up to improve the room’s use as a television backdrop and that Ashcroft had nothing to do with it.
But because internal e-mails referred to “hiding the statues” — and because the room was rarely used for media events in recent years — the episode was quickly seized upon by pundits and satirists as a symbol of Ashcroft’s allegedly puritanical and censorious bearing
Washington Post: Sculpted Bodies And a Strip Act At Justice Dept.
Reportedly, the current assistant attorney general for administration recommended, after Ashcroft’s departure, that the drapery be dispensed with, and current AG Alberto Gonzales approved the recommendation. After becoming AG in February Gonzales was often asked by reporters whether he planned to make any changes regarding the drapes. But he always evaded the question, saying he had more important issues to deal with. This is understandable, as coming up with legal justifications for the U. S. policies that allow torture and prison camps must be pretty hard work.
Perhaps the most famous photos of the statues involved the Reagan-era AG Edwin Meese, whose most significant contribution to the Republic was his chairmanship of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. The commission report promptly sank into well-deserved oblivion after Meese was photographed at a press conference in 1986 touting it, with the semi-nude statue of the Spirit of Justice in the background.
Reuters: here, here, here, and here.
Blogs: Americablog, Talkleft, Daily Kos
Originally posted June 26, 2005