Paul L. Caron
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Monday, July 27, 2020

Vermont Law School Gives Artist 90 Days To Remove 'Offensive' Mural Celebrating State's Role In The Underground Railroad And Abolitionist Movement

VLS Mural

Following up on my earlier post, Vermont Law School To Paint Over Mural Celebrating State's Role In The Underground Railroad And Abolitionist Movement Because Depiction Of Blacks 'Made Some People Uncomfortable':

Valley News, Vermont Law School Gives Artist 90 Days to Remove Mural Deemed Offensive:

The Vermont Law School Board of Trustees has given an artist 90 days to remove a controversial mural depicting slavery before the school itself will remove it.

The decision, announced Friday evening after the board met that day, varied slightly from an earlier statement this month from VLS President and Dean Thomas McHenry that it would “paint over” the mural by artist Sam Kerson. McHenry had previously noted that many in the VLS community now find the mural “offensive” because of its depictions of African Americans.

Painted and installed in the VLS Chase Community Center in 1993, “The Underground Railroad, Vermont and the Fugitive Slave” “celebrates the efforts of black and white Americans in Vermont and throughout the United States to achieve freedom and justice,” Kerson’s website says. ...

VLS on Friday said the Board of Trustees agreed with their concerns and with McHenry’s recommendation, but also would allow Kerson a chance to remove the mural to comply with the Visual Artists Rights Act [17 U.S.C. § 106A].

Kerson, who turns 74 on Tuesday and now lives in Quebec, said on Saturday that he had not been officially notified yet by VLS of its decision, and said he was uncertain of how he would proceed. ...

In their earlier letter raising concerns about the mural, VLS students Jameson Davis and April Urbanowski said that Kerson might have meant well when he created the work more than 25 years ago, but that “the story of Black experiences should be told by Black people.”

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/07/vermont-law-school-gives-artist-90-days-to-remove-offensive-mural-celebrating-states-role-in-the-und.html

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Comments

I commented in this very blog almost ten years ago (my God where does the time go) that this mural was absurd. I visited VLS as a guest a number of times when I was in law school, and couldn't believe this mural was allowed to exist. Cartoonish pictures of a white guy whipping African slaves? C'mon. It really is sort of the perfect white guilt driven attempt at cultural understanding that we've come to expect in academia. It should come down.

Posted by: JM | Jul 27, 2020 11:27:34 AM

Good to see the Left has its own brand of zero tolerance authoritarianism. I applaud alumni who choose to no longer donate to this school in any capacity.

Posted by: MM | Jul 27, 2020 6:22:05 PM

It’s a shame Sam Kerson isn’t black.

Odds are I literally would never stop laughing at the Dems’ idiocy were that the case.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 27, 2020 9:11:35 PM

So the Confederacy is bad, but the Union is also bad. The South is bad, but the North is also bad. I think we’re reaching diminishing returns here.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Jul 28, 2020 3:06:24 AM

How ridiculous. The mural was fine for 25 years but because two people feel "uncomfortable" the board decides to require its removal. Maybe the two people should examine their own personalities rather than remove a work of art that was admittedly, from one of the two people, fine when done. Does the board have no collective backbone?

Posted by: James Mayer | Jul 28, 2020 7:59:24 AM

I think I'd rather remove the school and leave the mural.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Jul 28, 2020 10:01:30 AM

Anyone else old enough to recall when "Piss Christ" was hotly defended by the Left? Robert Maplethorpe? When the Left went to the mat to make sure we could all see porn?

Posted by: geek49203 | Jul 28, 2020 10:22:17 AM

Quote: In their earlier letter raising concerns about the mural, VLS students Jameson Davis and April Urbanowski said that Kerson might have meant well when he created the work more than 25 years ago, but that “the story of Black experiences should be told by Black people.”

That makes it a bit hard for the history of long dead peoples to be written, doesn't it? There's no one around with any experience building the pyramids is there? It also leads to obvious absurdities. Should "the story of Nazi experiences... be told [solely] by Nazis"? Only Nazis could do Hitler biographies. Probably not a good idea. Histories also have multiple participants. Should those writing on slavery have to include the descendants of slave owners as well as those of slaves?

Quite frankly, I grow tired of these whiners. Almost three-quarters of young black men are growing up in fatherless homes and they want to complain about some silly painting?

Posted by: Mike Perry | Jul 28, 2020 10:32:27 AM

“the story of Black experiences should be told by Black people.”

And racism rears its ugly head.

Posted by: Rob Crawford | Jul 28, 2020 11:02:33 AM

I think it should be taken down because it's bad art, but would oppose taking it down because a couple of idiots think only black people should tell the story of black experience.

Posted by: John | Jul 28, 2020 11:26:57 AM

I'm not intellectual property lawyer, but I have to wonder about the artist's moral rights. What if he says he wants it to stay? You can't willy-nilly paint over murals without the artist's permission.

Posted by: Pettifogger | Jul 28, 2020 12:12:05 PM

How do you even respond to an argument like, “the story of Black experiences should be told by Black people.” Asian people, or Hispanics, cannot write about the experiences of other races?

Posted by: John R. Public | Jul 28, 2020 12:59:42 PM

The mural is not just a story about black people.

Posted by: DPM | Jul 28, 2020 5:02:45 PM

How is this any different from a white supremacist wanting it taken down? The woke left progressives and the Aryan Brotherhood are now fighting for the same things.

Posted by: dubya | Jul 28, 2020 7:18:22 PM