It's been more than a month now since the Justice Department
pulled off the Great Aluminum Boob Caper, and it's taken me that long to
get my mind around the magnitude of Attorney General John Ashcroft's
He's shown himself to be heroically willing to be ridiculed in
pursuit of his moral principles, one of which is that naked human bodies
You don't know about the Great Aluminum Boob Caper? Let me tell
In the Justice Department's Great Hall are two 12-foot-tall Art
Deco cast-aluminum statues sculpted by an artist named C. P. Jennewein as
a WPA project back in 1936.
One of the statues is of a male figure and it's called "Majesty of
Justice." His aluminum private parts are decently covered by an aluminum
loin cloth. The other is of a female figure called "Spirit of Justice."
An aluminum toga covers all her aluminum private partsexcept for her
aluminum right breast and its aluminum nipple.
Well, you're probably saying, that sounds about as sexy as a
pork-and-bean can stripped of its label. You're probably saying that
because you're not as sensitive to evil as the Ashcroft Justice Department
The department is wise enough to know that sex is wickedness
epitomized and alert enough to see sex everywhere.
Jennewein is not generally considered a pornographic sculptor,
although he did sculpt a gilt bronze female nude as the centerpiece of a
fountain near the U.S. District Court Building in Washington. Some heroic
Baptists, according to legend, got wind of the nakedness and covered the
nude with a gingham dress at its unveiling, so not much was unveiled.
So far there's no record that any of Jennewein's nudes have caused
any sex riots, but you know how Washington is about keeping such things
The biggest previous flap over the Spirit of Justice's exposed
aluminum breast was back in 1985 when Reagan's AG, Ed Meese, held a press
conference to read from the administration's Pornography Commission
report. He stood directly under the statue's exposed aluminum breast
while he read it.
The ensuing news photos caused great hilarity in depraved circles.
But I still haven't told you about the Great Aluminum Boob Caper.
Are you ready for this?
The folks at the Ashcroft Justice Department covered up both
aluminum statues with a blue curtain. The blue curtain cost $8,650.
That's $1,375 more than the statues themselves costand it shows just how
much the Attorney General values morality.
Imagine: every Attorney General for the last 66 years, until
Ashcroft, has been too mired in moral muck to find the exposed aluminum
The Truth, Mainly
Ashcroft's spokeswoman is Barbara Comstockwhere have I heard
that last name before?and she says the blue curtain is simply "more
photogenic" than the statues.
Which, Dan Bischoff writes in the Newark Star-Ledger, "no one
believes, of course, any more than they believe the department's official
assertion that Ashcroft had nothing to do with the decision" to put up the
Bischoff also writes that Roman art often depicted Justice as a
woman with one breast bared, thus symbolizing "the nurturing aspect of the
So what do we expect from Romans? They were pagans.
Bischoff concludes that covering up the statues "leaves the
completely bizarre impression that the chief law enforcement officer of an
administration that says it is fighting 'a war for civilization' is in
fact ashamed of the Greco-Roman traditions. . . at its very foundations."
Sounds like snooty academic talk to me.
Sounds like someone who's forgotten the plain truth that the
exposed human bodyeven when it's Art Deco aluminumis wicked as all get
And I, for one, am proud we have an Attorney General who will
stand up to the la-de-damn-da esthetes who don't really understand just
how corrupting an uncovered aluminum boob can be.
I say stick to it, Mr. Attorney General. Because there's a lot
more wickedness to cover up out there.
For example, something has to be done about Michelangelo's filthy
statue of Daviddangly parts and allover there in Italy. No wonder
Italians are so Italian.
And speaking of Michelangelo, how long can we tolerate all those
naked bodies thrashing around on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?
I say, in the spirit of the New Bilateralism, we send them a whole
lot of blue curtain material and if they don't cover up what needs to be
covered up, we add Italy and the Vatican to the Axis of Evil list.
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail