The Warhol Foundation threatens to withdrawal, or at least cease to provide future funding (over $300k of it) from Smithsonian system (National Portrait Gallery) over the pulling of a video that showed ants crawling on a crucifix. Catholics and others had taken offense to a video clip that was approximately 10 seconds or so in partial length (small part of a much longer video). When they started protesting, politicians started threatening to pull funding from the NEA and other sources that might feed into the Smithsonian system and soon thereafter the video was pulled "due to sensitivities" for some patrons or some similar such jargon that was used as an excuse.
So, the National Art Gallery is damned if they do pull the video and damned if they don't (or damned if they don't show the video and damned if they do show it).
Now, I'm not a fan of censorship myself, and really don't care much for those that would preclude others from seeing art, but by the same token the museum system is a victim of having fed at the public trow and because of that they are obligated to honor the public's wishes even if they want to tell the public to F- off! Realistically, they may very well have decided to pull the video because of sensitivities to patrons, but once they started displaying it (having approved it without being that bothered by the content) they shouldn't have caved in so easily.
On the other hand, the NEA uses public funds to do at least some of their work. In doing so, they are obligating themselves to political masters. Personally I'd rather the NEA get their funding directly from the public, not from the government redistribution of wealth and assets. If they did that, they could do as they please and only have to worry about losing funding if they offend a sizable portion of their donors. In turn, if the Smithsonian system (National Portrait Gallery) uses funds from the NEA they are also lining themselves up to serve those same political masters. Again easily solved if you refuse to accept tax money.
The bigger puzzle/issue for me is that the Warhol Foundation would seem to be setting themselves up to cut off their nose to spite their face. It strikes me that they are in the business of promoting art. They seem to have decided that this particular video is art and gawd bless them for that. Others disagree and have pushed to have the display changed to lose that particular piece. Some might call it a form of censorship, but in the end if the piece offends, it probably shouldn't be there. Does that mean that the Warhol Foundation should withdrawal the funding? If they do, would they not be going directly against what they would supposedly be in existence to do? Support art?! If the museum system won't be able to show art and help patrons get to see it and appreciate it, would they not be doing the world of art a great dis-service?
I know that it's their ball and they are entitled to go home with it if they wish, but I'd like to think that perhaps this should serve as a smack across their face when it comes to being more sensitive in selecting the works of art that they'll support the display of. While they may wish to push the envelope and while they may find artistic value in some things that others don't, they could still be more tolerant of the opinions of others just as they seem to want to force tolerance of controversial pieces of art upon others.