When the President of the United States was gunned down like a common thug in the streets of Dallas, the city’s internal disciplinary mechanisms barely quivered. To this writer’s knowledge, not a single police officer or secret service member was directly reprimanded in response to the grievous negligence which occurred on that tragic day. And yet recording artist Erykah Badu is being prosecuted for disorderly conduct for staging an artful—albiet utterly nude—performance art piece in Dealey Plaza, the site of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination. Using the stirring form of the female body as a potent reminder of the fragility of human life, Badu seeks to remind a forgetful nation of how easily our hopes for a better tomorrow can be dashed with an assassin’s bullet.
That the city of Dallas seeks to cleanse their tarnished reputation by smearing that of Miss Badu is another painful reminder that horrific violence is broadcast friendly in the United States, but displaying the female form is criminal. The major news networks and cable history channels gleeful replay the horrific Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination ad naseum, but somehow the footage of Miss Badu’s performance constitutes indecency. If the city of Dallas’ stance on the Badu matter is correct, then Picasso’s stirring painting of the Guernica massacre is an indecent display of disorderly conduct, and Dallas city officials should reprimand all Churches displaying graphic depictions of the Crucifixion.
Art in all its myriad forms has long been the most effective way for a society to overcome its losses, and inform future generations of why those losses are still of importance. Apparently Erykah Badu is one of the few young artists with the courage to render that service to her nation. Furthermore, it seems like the city of Dallas is continuing it’s forty-seven year legacy of blaming everyone but themselves for the tragedy of the Kennedy Assassination. Best of luck to Miss Badu in her upcoming legal proceedings.