For the past century or so decadence in art has always centered on shocking the middle class (épater les bourgeois ). Revenge of supposed free thinkers in society is a way of forging a union of the cultural left and the monied left. It's a pretty tired theme by now and requires ever more sensationalism to excite the old tittilation. If you can get the taxpayers to pay for offending their own deepest values, that at least improves the prospect of overcoming the majority of the public's indifference to your calculated insult.
The past week the the Smithsonian gained publicity for an exhibit at the Portrait Gallery called "Hide/Seek" that chiefly features assorted edgy sexual content and, among other things, a four minute video of ants crawling over Jesus Christ. The Smithsonian apparently thought that this would be a good seasonal antidote to too much Christmas cheer. However, the Catholic League protested and the National Portrait Gallery took down the video, but none of the rest of the exhibit.
The Washington Post went into a dither at that point. It's art critic railed two days ago. The editors ranted yesterday, criticizing the Republicans on the Hill for daring to criticize the exhibit, "The Censors Arrive." "'Hide/Seek' should be a platform for cultural debate, not the target of a misguided political vendetta," the Post snorted.
Wait a minute, isn't this the same Washington Post editorial page that five years ago objected to the showing of the film The Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History? Oh, yes, it is. The Post was entirely on the other side of the censorship barricade then. No talk in that case about a needed "platform for cultural debate."
So, smutty art is sacred. But a film that suggests that there is scientific evidence for design in the universe, that is just too offensive the Ruling Class to permit.
To say that the Post and the Smithsonian are both hypocritical on the censorship issue is putting too good a face on hypocrisy.