The Truth, Mainly - 03/04/2002

Naked justice from Attorney General's office
by Leon Satterfield

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 self-sacrifice.

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 are wicked.

You don't know about the Great Aluminum Boob Caper? Let me tell you.

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 parts—except 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 is.

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 quiet.

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 cost—and 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 breast intolerable.

Ashcroft's spokeswoman is Barbara Comstock—where 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 blue curtains.

Bischoff also writes that Roman art often depicted Justice as a woman with one breast bared, thus symbolizing "the nurturing aspect of the courts."

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 body—even when it's Art Deco aluminum—is wicked as all get out.

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 David—dangly parts and all—over 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 address is:

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