Skip to comments.Draping History. Ashcroft orders semi-nude statues covered.
Posted on 01/26/2002 10:00:54 AM PST by John Jorsett
W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 25 About three weeks ago, I received a tip. The attorney general was fed up with having his picture taken during events in the Great Hall in front of semi-nude statues.
He had ordered massive draperies to conceal the offending figures. But initially not only could the story not be confirmed it was strongly denied.
As some of you may know the Justice Department building was constructed during the 1930s as a WPA project, completed in 1934. The artwork and fittings were strongly influenced by the Art Deco movement. Much of the ornamentation in the building is made of aluminum, apparently a big Art Deco feature.
The Great Hall is basically what it sounds like a large, even grand, two-story room used for department events and ceremonies. The formal entrance up a winding stairway is adorned with murals depicting great figures in the history of law, including Moses, Hammurabi, and John Marshall.
At the opposite end of the hall, on either side of the stage, are two enormous and stylized but largely naked aluminum statues. On the left, the female figure represents the Spirit of Justice; the male on the right is the Majesty of Justice. The male is clad in only a cloth draped over his essential parts; the female wears a sort of toga-style garment, but one breast is entirely exposed. She's been fondly referred to for years by at least some as "Minnie Lou."
And she's the one the photographers seek out. The most famous pictures of all were shot when former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese proudly released the final report of his commission on pornography. No one in the Great Hall that day could ever forget the spectacle of the still photographers writhing on the floor, flat on their backs, in order to grab the shot of Meese holding up the porn report with Minnie Lou's breast over his shoulder.
So there were some who wondered how Attorney General John Ashcroft, known as a strongly religious and conservative man, would get along with the figures once he became attorney general.
For a long time he didn't seem to mind. But last November he and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson staged a major event in the Great Hall, to announce their plans for restructuring the Justice Department to address the new challenge of fighting terrorism. Many papers the next day used a photo of the attorney general with you guessed it Minnie Lou and that breast right over his shoulder.
According to my original tipster, that was the final straw for Ashcroft, and he ordered that the statues henceforth be draped.
Public affairs people however denied any such thing. They stoutly maintained that the attorney general had never complained and that no draperies had been ordered. They pointed out that periodically, through different administrations, draperies were sometimes rented for particular events.
They noted that former spokeswoman Mindy Tucker always hated the statues; Mindy told me Thursday it was her view that half the women in the department were offended by them and the other half considered them art.
Well, I guess this is a lot of background to get to the point: the draperies have in fact been ordered. Minnie Lou and her mate now can only be imagined. The draperies installed last week at a cost of just over $8,000.
And it turns out that they were indeed ordered by someone in the attorney general's office, who delivered the request to the Justice Management Division and asserted it was the attorney general's desire. I'm told she was the only person in the attorney general's office who knew about it. She's his advance person, and she said it was done for "aesthetic purposes" she just thought it would look better when staging events in the Great Hall.
So now it appears that rather than making an occasional appearance, the draperies are here to stay unless and until someone has the temerity to request an event without them.
Bah, a happy leftist is an oxymoron.
Couldn't Justice have done something else, like use another room? They simply have got to rev up their thinking on these matters.
(BTW, why didn't somebody throw a blanket over Janet Reno???)
I thought the same. I keep forgetting which one makes up their news...
I thought it was a silly story until I clicked the link and looked at the picture. I can't really say that I blame him. The media is just immature enough to always be able to say "look, there's a boob in the picture..."
But I guess Ashcroft would have problem with the Seal of Virginia which also appears on the flag.
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