At the University of Alaska in Anchorage, a painting by a professor is stirring up a major controversy. The painting by Prof. Thomas Chung depicts a nude Captain America holding up the severed head of President Donald Trump. The blood of the severed head drips down on a white pantsuit clad Hillary Clinton who is clinging to Captain America’s head.
However, the University of Alaska has no plans to remove the painting. The chair of the fine arts department told a local NBC station that it was important to defend the freedom of expression of the artist.
“If [students] were taking a class at the university and made art that was considered controversial, no matter what their political or religious bent is, we would do our best to protect them and protect their rights to make that kind of work in the institution, whether it would be a student or a faculty,” he said according to Heat Street.
Heat Street also pointed out that the university has been very inconsistent when it comes to protecting free speech.
The University of Alaska Anchorage has at least one policy in place that “clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech” on campus, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
And in recent years, art has also been censored at the university a handful of times. Nude sketches were covered to avoid offending a church group a few years ago, the Alaska Dispatch News reported, and offended parents also moved a sculpture of a penis, damaging it.
It is normal procedure for the Secret Service to question anyone who suggests threatening the life of a president. For example, the Secret Service is currently investigating threats made to President Trump that originated in Arizona. Trump’s election has also triggered tens of thousands of tweets suggesting his assassination.
In 2006, the Secret Service investigated teenagers for writing “kill Bush” on the top of a picture. The girl was questioned but later not charged.
If a painting like this could suggest an investigation by the Secret Service for possibly threatening the life of the president, the university should act to take it down. Threatening the president is a Federal crime and the university and professor should be punished accordingly.