cided to bar anyone under the age ofn18 from even stepping foot inside thencenter for the durahon of the Mapplethorpenshow. With this attempt tondisplay sensitivity to community concerns,nthe CAC validated those concernsnby imposing restrictions on thenviewing of the art exhibit that werenstricter than those placed on the viewingnof an X-rated movie —;/ Cincinnatinhad X-rated movies. The finalnirony was that the age restriction wasnnot strictly enforced. I know two sixteen-year-oldngirls who breezed intonthe exhibit with no problem at all. Thenabsurd contradictions of age-restrictednart reach their peak when one imaginesnsome irate parent marching into thenCAC and shouting, “How dare younallow my underage daughter into an artngallery!”nThe review passed on to me by onenof those gate-crashing sixteen-year-oldsnwas that the pretty pictures were pretty,nthe weird pictures were weird, and thenother pictures — those pictures — weren”not nice, really.” Among adults whonsaw the exhibit, opinions were far morenburdened by qualification and evasion.n(“Personally, I found some of the picturesnrevolting, but it’s not for me tonsay they shouldn’t be shown” was thenmost frequently reported comment.)nBut then, adults sense better than kidsnthe national climate of intellectual terrorismnthat now surrounds the issue ofnfree expression, a climate in whichnhonorable people with honest questionsnabout the artistic value of sadomasochisticnand homoerotic photographsnare described in some quartersnas “convulsive” and in other quartersnas book burners. If you doubt it, 1 refernyou first (and again) to the New YorknTimes, and then to playwright EdwardnAlbee, who came to the University ofnCincinnati as a guest speaker and graciouslyntold his audience that in thenMapplethorpe affair Cincinnati was attemptingna “kind of Orwellian thoughtncontrol.” “Democracy is terribly fragile,”nlectured Mr. Albee. “It mustnalways be on the lookout for the booknburners.” (What a fool. To watch closenup as Cincinnati thrashed out thenissues raised by the Mapplethorpenshow was to get a nice little glimpse ofnhow resilient and sturdy and distinctlynunfragile a thing democracy is.) Henalso announced, “Art cannot be obscene.nOnly attitudes toward art can benobscene.” If Mr. Albee went on tonaddress the question of whether somethingnobscene can be art, it wasn’tnreported.nMy favorite appraisal of the Mapplethorpenexhibit came from a womannwho, seeking something positive to saynabout the experience for which she’dnjust paid five dollars, arrived at this: “Atnleast there was no group sex.” I’ll betnyou two tickets to a Reds doubleheadernthat if the depiction of group sex in artnis where that woman draws the line,ncountless arts militants are already decidingnthey won’t rest until they haven”challenged” and “disturbed” her withndepictions of group sex in art. After all,nnothing less than our “fragile democracy”nis at stake. And when she discoversnthat she has given them a lot morenleeway than they have given her, thatnany line is evidence of, say, “Orwelliannthought control,” what will she saynthen?n”At least there was no group sex.”nIdiotic pontifications from Edward Albee.nIt’s that kind of stuff that makesnme long for a Royko-like voice innCincinnati, one that can dish it out anlittle. But that’s a silly longing. Evennwithout his recent “rube” jab, MikenRoyko and the city of Cincinnatinwouldn’t last a month together. HenO EARWIG, O EARWIGnPlants and Animals in the Garden,nLIBERAL ARTSnWe welcome you—we invite you in —nwe ask your forgiveness and your understanding.nListen as we invoke yournnames, as we also listen for you;nLittle sparrows, quail, robins andnhouse finches who have died in ournstrawberry nets;nYoung Cooper’s Hawk who flew intonour sweet pea trellis and broke yournneck;nNumerous orange-bellied newts whondied by our shears, in our irrigationnpipes, by our cars, and by our feet;nSlugs and snails whom we have pursuednfor years, feeding you to the ducks,ncrushing you, trapping you, picking younoff’ and tossing you over our fences;nGophers and moles, trapped andnscorned by us, and also watched withnlove, admiration and awe for your onemindedness;nSowbogs, spitbugs, earwigs, flea bee­nnnwould start making fun of the Reds,nand then we’d really have an uproar.nAt that point, the New York Timesnwould pick up on the story and reportnthat Royko had once made fun of somenbeloved Berkeley institution “withoutnincident.” And then . . . well, havenyou ever seen an entire city break outnin mental hives?nJanet Scott Barlow covers popularnculture from Cincinnati.nLetter From thenLower Rightnby John Sbelton ReednIn This Corner . . .nAs I write it is mid-July, and the Senatenrace between Jesse Helms and HarvetnCantt isn’t neady as hot as the weathernhere in North Carolina, where it was 99ndegrees in the shade this afternoon. Tonjudge from the phone calls I’ve alreadynhad from inquiring Yankee reporters,nthough, Helms-Gantt is shaping up asnthe big morality play of the fall. By thentime you read this, assuming both can-ntles, wooly aphids, rose-suckers, cutworms,nmillipedes and other insectsnwhom we have lured and stopped;nSnakes and moths who have beenncaught in our water system and killed bynour mowers;nFamilies of mice who have died innirrigation pipes, by electricity in ournpump box, and by predators while nestingnin our greenhouses;nManure worms and earthworms, severednby spades, and numerous microscopicnlifeforms in our compost systemnwho have been burned by sunlight . . .nWe call up plants we have removed byndividing you and separating you, andndeciding you no longer grow well here;nWe invoke you and thank you andncontinue to learn from you. We dedicatenthis ceremony to you. We willncontinue to practice with you and fornyou.n—from a recent Zen Buddhist memorialnservice for the plants and animals ofnGreen Gulch Farm, San Francisco.nOCTOBER 1990/49n