IFAS | Freedom Writer | July/August 1990 | wildmon.html

Wildmon publication blocked

In his relentless quest to foist the "biblical ethic of decency" on American society, the Rev. Donald Wildmon, head of the Mississippi-based American Family Association, opened himself to a libel and copyright infringement suit. On June 25, David Wojnarow icz, a New York artist, prevailed in his request for an injunction against Wildmon. The injunction prohibited the fundamentalist minister from further distribution of a pamphlet which depicted fragments of the artist's work.

Wildmon published excerpts of the painter's work in a pamphlet titled Your Tax Dollars Helped Pay for These Works of Art. The publication depicted reproductions of small, sexually explicit close-ups of certain areas of the copyrighted art. Wildmon hoped to persuade his supporters that the National Endowment for the Arts funds pornography.

Wojnarowicz contended that Wildmon violated copyright laws and misrepresented him in a way that brought harm to his reputation. He sought $1 million in damages.

William C. Connor, a federal judge in Manhattan issued the temporary injunction against Wildmon. Judge Connor then requested that both sides file post-trial briefs. After the lawyers file the briefs, the judge will announce his decision on the copyright i nfringement and libel aspects of the case.

Earlier, Wildmon attempted to have the trial transferred to Mississippi. He claimed that the New York court was inappropriate because New Yorkers did not receive any of the 3,800 pamphlets which he sent out to religious leaders and members of Congress. Th erefore, he said, the trial should not be held in New York. However, at the request of an artist's group which backs Wojnarowicz, the Freedom Writer located New York residents who had received Wildmon's literature.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.