$8,000 Was Spent by the U.S. Justice Department For a Drapery To Cover A Female Statue with an Exposed Breast-Truth!



Summary of eRumor:

This eRumor says it is an open letter written by poet Claire Braz-Valentine to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft regarding the decision to cover a female statue with an exposed breast at the justice department.  The letter criticizes Ashcroft for being concerned about the breast instead of more important issues.

The Truth:

The letter was written by poet, playwright, and journalist Claire Braz-Valentine, according to her office.  

The widely-publicized event of blue draperies being installed in front of the statue is true as well.

The statue is one of two that stand at the end of the Great Hall in the Justice Department, which is commonly used for news conferences and announcements.  One of statues is known as “The Majesty of Justice” and is a male figure.  The other is called “The Spirit of Justice” and is the female figure.  They are both art-deco pieces cast in aluminum.  The female figure is dressed in a toga, leaving one breast exposed.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has not issued any official statement that we know of about the statue issue.  The story was broken by Beverly Lumpkin of ABC News who said Ashcroft had made the request for the draperies.  The Justice department has said that the draperies were an aesthetic decision that allowed the room to be changed for various functions and that the blue draperies looked good on camera.

Critics say the drapery is a reflection of Ashcroft’s conservative Christian view of things and that covering the breast seems to be an odd priority compared with other important issues for the Justice department to pay attention to.

Supporters say Ashcroft has no problem with the art or the exposed breast but has gotten tired of photographers strategically positioning themselves to snap pictures of Ashcroft or other officials framed with the breast.  They say it is the photographers who have caused the breast to be an issue, not Ashcroft.

The same issue came up in 1968 when then Attorney General Edwin Meese presented his commission’s REPORT ON PORNOGRAPHY to reporters in The Great Hall.  Several of the photographers took pains to get pictures of Meese holding up the report with “The Spirit of Justice” and her exposed breast prominently displayed in the background.

Posted 7/6/07

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Subject: Ashcroft and Breasts
 The following was sent on by a woman in Washington who….
 “had the great pleasure of hearing the following letter read by the
 author at
 this year’s ‘In Celebration of the Muse’ at Cabrillo College. She
 was the
 highlight of the evening for me and I’m delighted to be able to pass
 it along
 to you. I think it worth knowing that the author is a woman of 60+
 conservatively dressed and obviously quite talented. I hope this
 version is
 correct. Enjoy………….”
 On January 28, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that
 he spent
 $8,000 of taxpayer’s money for drapes to cover up the exposed breast
 of The
 Spirit of
 Justice, an 18 ft aluminum statue of a woman that stands in the
 Department of
 Justice’s Hall of Justice.
 John, John, John, you’ve got your priorities all wrong.
 While men fly airplanes into skyscrapers, dive bomb the Pentagon,
 while they stick explosives into their shoes, and then book a seat
 right next
 to us, while they hide knives in their luggage, steal kids on school
 take little girls from their beds at night, drive trucks into our
 capital buildings, while our President calls dangerous men all over
 the world
 evildoers and devils,
 while we live in the threat of biological warfare, nuclear
 destruction, annihilation,
 You are out buying yardage to save Americans from the appalling
 abominable aluminum alloy of evil, that terrible ten foot tin tittie.

 You might not be able to find Bin Laden, but you sure as heck found
 hooter in the hall of justice.
 It’s not that we aren’t grateful, but while we were begging the
 women of
 Afghanistan to not cover up their faces, you are begging your staff
 to just cover up that nipple to save the American people from that
 metal mammary. How can we ever thank you?
 So, in your office every morning, in your secret prayer meeting,
 while an American woman is sexually assaulted every 6 seconds,
 while anthrax floats around the post office, settling in the chests
 of senior
 you’ve got another chest on your mind.
 While American sons arrive home in body bags and heat seeking
 missiles fly
 around a foreign country looking for any warm body, you think of
 And you pray for the biggest bra in the world, John, because you see
 breast on the spirit of justice in the spirit of your own inhibited
 And when we women see our grandmothers, our mothers, our daughters,
 granddaughters, our sisters, ourselves,
 when we women see that statue–the Spirit of Justice–we see the
 spirit of
 strength–the spirit of survival.
 While every day we view innocent bodies dragged out of rubble and
 women and
 children laid out like thin limp dolls and baptized into death as
 and the hollow eyed Afghani mother’s milk has dried up underneath
 her burka
 in famine and her children are dead at her breast.
 While you look at that breast, John–that jug on the spirit of
 justice and
 deal with your thoughts of lust and sex and nakedness, we see it as
 testimony to motherhood.
 And you see it as a tit.
 It’s not the money it cost.
 It’s the message you send.
 We’ve got the right to live in freedom.
 We’ve got the right to cheat Americans out of millions of dollars
 and then
 just not want to tell Congress about it.
 We’ve got the right to drop bombs night and day on a small country
 that has
 no army, no navy, no military at all, because we’ve got the right to
 But we just better not even think about the right to bare breasts.
 So now, John, you can be photographed while you stand there and talk
 guns and bombs and poisons without the breast appearing over your
 Without that bodacious bosom bothering you.
 And we just wanted to tell you
 in the spirit of justice
 in the spirit of truth …
 John, there is still one very big boob left standing there in that
 –Claire Braz-Valentine