As you can tell, when it comes to blogging, I am about as taciturn as one can be. But something happened at the post office yesterday that got me riled up enough to write something.
I need to have postcards printed to let people know that I will open my studio for two weekends this October as part of the Santa Cruz County Open Studios. I want to use “Teacup” as the image on the postcards, but I was cautioned by other artists that one must be careful when designing postcards lest the US Postal Service declare them unmailable. So I took a photo of “Teacup” down to the post office to get an opinion about whether or not this image would be acceptable. Sure enough, it was rejected by the supervisor because it contains an image of a booby. Today I received in the mail a copy of their regulations on the matter which supposedly were intended to clarify their standards for me, but which instead have left me further confounded. In Section 601 of the Domestic Mail Manual, they highlighted subsection 13.5.4, “Lewd or Filthy Matter.” It reads, “Obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy publications or writings, or mail containing information on where, how, or from whom such matter may be obtained, and matter that is otherwise mailable but that has on its wrapper or envelope any indecent, lewd, lascivious, or obscene writing or printing, and any mail containing any filthy, vile, or indecent thing is nonmailable (18 USC 1461, 1463).” Then, in Section 508, they highlighted subsection 10.1.1 regarding “Sexually Oriented Advertisements.” It reads, “39 USC 3010(d) defines sexually oriented advertisement as ‘any advertisement that depicts, in actual or simulated form, or explicitly describes, in a predominantly sexual context, human genitalia, any act of natural or unnatural sexual intercourse, any act of sadism or masochism, or any other erotic subject directly related to the forgoing.’” Maybe we are all as crazy here in Santa Cruz as people say we are, but I cannot for the life of me see how “Teacup” can be placed within these definitions. In my emailings, I will put in them whatever I want and I will defend myself against unwarranted charges of obscenity; but if I attempt to mail postcards of “Teacup,” the post office will not deliver them and I will just be shooting myself in the foot.
I cannot believe that these are our standards in this day and age, but then I am reminded that it was only about ten years ago that US Attorney General John Ashcroft stupidly (yeah, I said it) had the bare breasts of the statue of Justice covered by curtains to avoid offending people at the Department of Justice Building in Washington, DC.
I know that the visitors to my website are from all over the world. I would be very interested in hearing what all of you have to say about this.