Nudity in the art will probably always raise eyebrows among some, particularly those unfamiliar with art history; although who isn't familiar with the Sistine Chapel where people's private parts are pictured all over the ceiling and walls? And if the Vatican can stand it, why can't Facebook?

Does a Stone Age sculpture violate community standards?

The question reared its scoffing head when news was announced on March 1 that Facebook barred a subscriber in Italy from posting a picture of the Venus of Willendorf - a 4-inch limestone figurine from the Stone Age.

Granted this Venus is nude, but she's no Venus de Milo. With distended breasts and belly she looks very pregnant and hardly a sex object. So it's hard to see why the Social Media service would call it inappropriate for general audiences. Is there a child in the world who doesn't know what his mother's breasts look like?

Is a popular museum exhibit inappropriate for general audiences?

As stated by a spokesman for the museum that owns the sculpture, general audiences make it a popular exhibit. Christian Koeberl, the director of Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, told the press, “There has never been a complaint by visitors concerning the nakedness of the figurine.”

Who's offended by the Venus of Willendorf?

Facebook's skittishness about bared bodies isn't new.

It has a long history of censoring Nudity In Art, even famous art. I'm thinking of its refusal to publish a photograph of “Little Mermaid” the bronze statue in Copenhagen based on the character in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Facebook saw it as a violation of community standards.

Isn't obscenity in art settled law?

But didn't this argument about community standards end in 1990 when obscenity in art went on trial, and a Cincinnati museum director was found not guilty of displaying Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs? It wasn't even a hard decision for the jury to make.

Their verdict came in after only two hours and in a city that had banned topless bars and the sale of Playboy magazine.

The way the jury saw the photographs, Mapplethorpe lent the subject-matter “a sense of perfection.” In other words, they saw the work as art. And those jury members weren't alone in their thinking. When a local radio station broadcasting a Cincinnati Reds game announced the verdict, fans stood and cheered.

Russia gets a pass, but a prehistoric relic gets punished

Odd that Facebook knows so little about the very thing they rule on. No wonder history keeps repeating itself. So few know any history. And the decency-in-art ruling was made less than 30 years ago! Even more odd is that while the social media service worries about community standards, it sold ads in 2016 to Russia to exploit divisions in the U.S.

Talk about posting things inappropriate for general audiences. Are you getting this? Facebook worries more about nudity in art corrupting us than the Kremlin corrupting our democracy.

The worry now is that if art decency standards are coming back, can a government blacklist be far behind, especially one led by a madman in the White House?

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