Saturday, October 20, 2007
Historical Accuracy and Free Speech
So, there's a relatively new statue of Robert E. Lee on the Antietam Battlefield, and I guess it's caused a great deal of controversy. The NPS lost out in a bid for the purchase of the Newcomer Farm, and William Chaney put up the statue to honor Lee near the farmhouse.
It's a beautiful statue. It rivals the statue of Lee on top of the VA monument at Gettysburg. It will probably end up coming down, though, if the fight continues and the opposition wins.
The NPS itself is not totally opposed to the statue, and removing it would not be in their limited budget anyway. Tom Clemens, president of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation is strictly opposed to this statue, because it puts Lee behind the Union line, though he would have passed there on Sept. 16th. Clemens cites claims that it sets a bad precedent, that anyone could put up a statue to whoever they wanted on private property inside the park, even Osama Bin Laden, if someone should choose to do so.
My opinion on this is that the statue is privately funded and on private property. We have a Constitution which promises the right of free speech. We have such things as private property and freedom of choice on such issues. Why should the government, the same one I might add that allows burning of the US flag, be allowed to tell someone what kind of art they can or cannot put on their property?
I may not agree with the location, but I do like the statue. What I don't like is government intervention, especially when this country is facing thousands of more serious issues at the moment!