January 31, 2002
by Chris Feeney
What if Justice was really blind? Well in this case it would be better off for us taxpayers if everyone else was blind and would not have seen the semi-naked statue of lady justice in the background as Attorney General John Ashcroft gave a press briefing on Homeland Security.
Apparently someone was offended by the 1930 statue, "Spirit of Justice", which is located at the end of the stage in the Great Hall of the United States Justice Department. The toga clad female stands holding both hands above her head and because of the nature of the garment, basically has the entire left side of her chest exposed. I guess Ashcroft's speech was not interesting enough to hold the entire crowd captive, because someone's eyes wandered to the background and noticed the statue.
I have to admit I never noticed the statue in the photo until I read further into the report I read regarding the issue on an Internet news service. But don't think that the Ashcroft aid who has placed an order for an $8,000 set of curtains to cover the statue during press events in the building, is the only paranoid politician. When the building was named in honor of Robert Kennedy last year, President Bush's advisors rented curtains to cover the controversial statue. At least this purchase is cost effective, as it will eliminate the rental fees for all those who are worried about offending. It's ironic though considering that this same statue caused no major uproar back in the 1980's when the building was the stage for the release of the Attorney General's office commission report on the investigation into pornography and Ed Meese stood in front of the image telling the world about the evils of nakedness.
Maybe I am not easily offended, but I'd have to say the curtains are a waste of money. If so many people are offended why not just remove the statue? I guarantee you that the millions of viewers hooked into the television each night see 1001 worse images any given night than the gray-aluminum statue with one breast exposed. If the politicians are so worried about the statue behind them, why not move the podium to a different spot, or simply avoid the setting all together. Hey folks we are in a recession. I realize that $8,000 bucks is just a drop in the bucket but still we have to stop wasting money somewhere. I guess we are just lucky that the Statue of Liberty's toga is a little more concealing.