Reviews > Culture

Rudy's duty

"Rudy's duty" Continued...

Issue: "Can the boom last?," Oct. 16, 1999

Artists who are trying to offend people should not be shocked when people are actually offended. Artists who are rebelling against society can hardly claim the right to be financially supported by that society.

Conversely, those who force people to buy such things are surely violating their freedom. To make citizens spend $7 million of their tax dollars for an institution that throws manure on their values is little short of tyrannical.

With his stands on abortion and gay rights, Mr. Giuliani is clearly no representative of the Christian right. But there have been few politicians who have been such effective culture warriors.

His accomplishments in cleaning up the Augean stables of New York City are astonishing. The crime rate has dropped, thanks to his policy of having the police crack down on the minor violations-the squeegee extortionists, the scamming panhandlers, the vandals and scofflaws-resulting in a trickle-up effect of social order. Now, New York City has become one of the safest of our major cities.

Mr. Giuliani has even cleaned up the porn shops, strip joints, and massage parlors that made 42nd Street notorious. In the name of "quality of life," he pushed through regulations (such as zoning ordinances) that kept such establishments from being next to each other, which ended up making them leave. And when the bad businesses left, good businesses moved in to fill the vacuum. The Broadway District, now in a good neighborhood, has become an even bigger tourist attraction. Now, if he can clean up the art museums-and make them safe for real art-he will prove himself truly Herculean.

The issue is being thrashed out in the courts, and most observers think the mayor has no standing to cancel funding already appropriated. Still, in taking on the socially and financially powerful arts establishment, Mr. Giuliani is standing on principle.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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