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Reader: Public broadcasting is a worthy investment




I feel the need to try to educate Mr. Don McCullen, whose letter ("Defund public media," April 5) claimed public broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities could be "well funded by using only private funds," and also that the U.S. government only funds these things "because other countries do it."

The fact that John Grisham sells the most books does not make him America's greatest author. There is a difference between commercial success and artistic achievement. The U.S. public recognizes this and supports spending tax money to foster art for the sake of art.

Corporations give to things that promote corporate power and profits, such as Rep. Doug Lamborn — and that money has strings attached. Shows like Frontline would not get the kind of funding that allows them to be truly objective, and to serve as canaries in the coal mine. Projects like Ken Burns' Vietnam documentary could not happen; they upset the corporate apple cart.

I think, more than anything, corporate shills like Lamborn want to prevent another Mapplethorpe being funded. Mapplethorpe's art, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, helped shape the change of public opinion that led to legal gay marriage and wider acceptance of LGBT people. That kind of change terrifies our corporate masters, because it creates unpredictability.

So corporations buy people like Lamborn and put words in their mouths that falsely cast the budget deficit as the reason for trying to silence the voices of culture-changing art. Shallow-thinking conservatives buy in. The cost of all government support for public broadcasting and the national endowments is about $1.50 per person, per year — a pittance compared to what we get from it.

— Gina Douglas, Colorado Springs

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