The U.S. Justice Department spent $8000 for a drapery to cover a female statue with an exposed breast-Truth!

$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