RPI Game Exhibit Nixed Over Terrorism Concerns; FBI May Be Involved

March 7, 2008 -

On Monday GamePolitics reported on a brewing video game controversy at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy, New York.

The dust-up centered around objections by RPI's College Republicans organization to a planned exhibition by a visiting artist. Wafaa Bilal (left), an Iraqi who is on the faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago and whose brother was killed in the current war, was scheduled to present a hacked version of Night of Bush Capturing, an al Qaeda propaganda game at the campus.

Bilal's exhibit, however, has been canceled by RPI administrators over terrorism concerns as well as protests by some students and alumni. As reported by the Albany Times-Union, Bilal said:
 

It feels like a military camp, not an educational institution.


Bilal maintains that the intent of his exhibit is to show how U.S. strategy in Iraq has helped al Qaeda recruit new members.

Alumni Christopher Lozaga was among those who objected to Bilal's appearance:
 

So long as RPI sponsors these kinds of events, giving absolutely no consideration to military alumnus, friends and family of the university, I will not contribute a dime to the school.


On Wednesday Bilal was removed from an RPI classroom by administrators during a meeting with students. Said media arts professor Branda Miller:
 

It was very unsettling for me and my students. It would be unfortunate if Wafaa Bilal's art exhibition remains closed. The whole point of art is to encourage dialogue.


Bilal told the Times-Union that RPI officials, on orders from school president Shirley Ann Jackson, questioned him about the game mod and whether it portrayed an attack on President Bush. He was also told that federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, were planning to attend his exhibit. 

While not commenting on Bilal's case specifically, an FBI official said:
 

I can state that there are situations where it would be appropriate for FBI agents to attend events which are open to the public if the FBI believes that there might be information relevant to national security. FBI agents can attend these events even if an investigation is not opened. But they would only report on information which is relevant to a threat to national security.'


RPI VP William Walker told the Times-Union: 
 

The university is considering various factors relating to the exhibition, and has suspended it pending a more complete review of its origin, content, and intent. Rensselaer fully supports academic and artistic freedom. The question under review regards the use of university resources to provide a platform for what may be a product of a terrorist organization or which suggests violence directed toward the President of the United States and his family.


RPI student body president Julia Leusner added:
 

If Bilal was making a point about the vulnerability of Iraqi civilians to the travesties of the current war, I failed to see it, as did every other student I spoke to.


UPDATE: Newsday has picked up the story. Look for this to get some national attention. From Newsday:
 

"By taking [the exhibit] away, they destroyed the entire objective of it, which is conversation," Bilal said. "I think they're buying time as a tactic here, so they don't look bad. Let's call it what it is, censorship."

Bilal is no stranger to controversy. Some of his work was destroyed at an exhibition at the University of New Mexico, and he's also had government officials confiscate his work from an exhibit in Baghdad.


UPDATE 2: As expected, the RPI story has gone national. Here is Associated Press coverage in the Washington Post.

Comments

@Jaberwock
"Are you seriously trying to twist this discussion into a discussion of the LEGALITY of a MOD?"

I suggested no such thing, I said that I don't believe he added any meaningful benefit to the discussion with his work. I was commenting on his 'art' not the legality/acceptability of his exhibit

While I agree that the average person on the street probably hasn't considered how tempting it might be for a person under distress to join a shady organization for the cause of vengeance or percieved injustice. I'm quite sure that civilian unrest before/during/after military action is not something that is ignored by ANY military force.

I also agree that it is important to make folks outside of military circles (read: the public) aware that military action of any kind is NOT cut-n-dry simple work. I think that it is important that the general public understand the delicate and difficult position that this (not just Bush) and several previous administrations have put the US into.

Overall, I do think that his core message should be heard. However, it sounds like the way that he's delivering his message is flawed at best.

"If Bilal was making a point about the vulnerability of Iraqi civilians to the travesties of the current war, I failed to see it, as did every other student I spoke to." --RPI student body president Julia Leusner

That statement is where my concern lies. We all know what Bilal is saying his message is, but is that the same message that is actually being delivered? We can all argue about supposed slights to a person's freedom of speech, about how it's just another case of 'the man keeping the little guy down'. But really, has anyone considered (at least for a second) that maybe Bilal might have intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented his work?

Just tossing some questions out there that looked like folks aren't asking.

Something else I'd like to point out (not related to the above).

Stop throwing around the Free Speech argument, both sides.

This isn't about free speech. They aren't banning the game, they aren't burning or deleting all copies. They simply said "Sorry, you can't hold your exhibition on our private property." He still has his freedom of speech.

And the other side, claiming that disagreeing with their closure was suggesting violating the freedom of speech of the people funding that school. That is so off base it isn't even funny.

This is exactly like that idiot who was losing his talk show for being an idiot, and people were saying that it violates his freedom of speech to take him off the air.

Please, before the next person starts waving the freedom of speech flag, look it up. Understand that freedom of speech doesn't mean you have a right to anothers venue or medium. You freedom of speech doesn't give you the right to express yourself by painting over someone elses masterpiece, because that doesn't belong to you. You are allowed to express yourself, but there are limits. For example, you aren't allowed to carve your manefesto into the skin of random people. You can't jsut start cussing or stripping on live TV. You will get prosecuted.

"You’re correct, but I think that people are overlooking the fact that there are probably at least as many students and alumni who will be voting the opposite way with their donations as well."

Exactly. It's up to RPI to choose what they want to present as part of the education, because that is their right. Not their obligation.

It should be noted that, while the american people are generally scared, the terrorists have NOT won in any real sense of the word.

One thing that they find frustrating is american's generally completely miss the point of the entire terror champain. Terror is the weapon, not the end goal (in the same way killing people in a war is generally the method to win, not the original goal, unless it is a champain of genocide of course). While rhetoric might include 'kill americans! kill america!' that is little more then speeches and pep talk. Think about the equivalent 'I'm gonna go kill some commies!' from the cold war.

Their end goals usually include things like ending US support for Israel and removing US military bases from Saudi Arabia. As long as both of those conditions are not met then the terrorists have most defiantly not 'won' in any real sense of the word.

@Artifex

Well, the game is about people recruited to kill Bush. Baiscally, a game about being a terrorist. This guy put his head on that character. The message seems pretty clear that he easily sees how he himself could become a terroist. Seems pretty clear to me.

If my brother were killed (as his was), I could see having the same attitude. What I don't see is who killed his brother. If his brother was collateral damage from a direct US strike, or killed in the general lawlessness following the invasion, one could reasonably hold the US responsible. If it were me, and I had a chance at revenge against the the offending party, I would certainly consider taking it. That's your family. Family is more important than country, that's for sure.

I think it's pretty obvious that for every Iraqi killed, there is a whole family of potential terrorists / enemies. Making this point should be pretty much common sense. I don't see anything even controversial about it. We wanted blood after the twin towers attack, why should we find it somehow controversial that anyone else would react any differently to their loved ones being killed? By putting his head in the game, I think he would make that point pretty plainly.

The only controversy here is that it does shed light on the fact that we are responsible for killing many civilians in Iraq, and are responsible for the creation of some terrorists. To me that all seems like common sense, something we should expect to happen if we choose to go to war. That is something that should have been well known and discussed in the open before making the vote to go to war.

Why there is any controversy here confuses me. We can go to war, kill people, yet we cannot talk about the repercussions of doing so? Seems like we are forcing our own heads into the sand here.

@JBentley

"I suggested no such thing, I said that I don’t believe he added any meaningful benefit to the discussion with his work."

Whoops! Sorry, I must have had a brain fart there. I think I was trying to respond to the "contributed nothing new, questioning whether it's art" train of thought, and then got derailed by the legality of the mod comment N Thomson made.

@lumi

"That said, I’d have no problem with someone making a donation and saying “this is only to be used for math” or “this is only to be used for electronic art” or... But there’s a ton of room between “you must use this money for this” and “you may use this money for anything except for an Iraqi art exhibit”. Earmarking donations is a really common thing, it doesn’t bother me too much, really."

I think that's the core problem though. People have made donations, and were going to make donations, in general, to RPI, under the understanding that some was to go to the art department (or they would have earmarked it differently), but they're stuck in the "I support the arts, but not THAT kind." So they really *are* saying "you may use this for anything except an Iraqi art exhibit". And I think that's a sad way to support the arts.

@Artifex

"That statement is where my concern lies. We all know what Bilal is saying his message is, but is that the same message that is actually being delivered? ... But really, has anyone considered (at least for a second) that maybe Bilal might have intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented his work?"

Does it matter? He's trying to convey an idea. Is it no longer art just because some members of the audience don't "get it"? Granted he should tweak his delivery a bit (maybe it's a bit too obscure to understand without explanation?), but I don't think that's a valid criteria for deciding whether it's a valid statement or not.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Seems to me this is a simple pair of issues.

1. Private people stopped donating to a college because they didn't like a piece of art on display there.

2. Students didn't want to see a particular piece of art on display at their college.

People donating to a college stopped because they didn't support something. Okay, I can see that. If I'm donating money to a place, and that place starts creating art that goes against my values, whether they be religious, political, moral, etc, I would stop funding it. That's easy. Sure, it may be economic censorship, but it's not the people's job to get airtime for a cause they don't support. So the first issue isn't that people stopped donating. It's a little less complex than that.

The issue lies in whether or not the donating parties have seen the art. If they have, and they withdraw their money, all right then. You're going to have to find a new venue.

However, if the donating parties have not seen the art, and they withdraw on reflex, that's the problem. You need to see what you're (not) funding before deciding how to sort your contributions.

For the students who are complaining, I have a really simple, easy-to-understand answer: If something offends you, don't go. Really. I doubt exposure to a game is going to turn the entire student body into terrorists. If that's all it took, I'd have Rambo'd my way through most of North America by now.

To sum up my opinion on this...

1. The investors in the college need to see the art, so they know where their money is going. If they refuse, then they are the people we should be mad at. If they see it, and still don't donate, then bummer. The guy is going to have to find a new place to show his art. I'd suggest the internet.

2. A group students shouldn't be able to chase someone off campus. If they don't like something, they can just not go.

3. The feds don't really have anything to do with this, except that their actions have created the environment we live in. To be honest, the FBI are the most rational about this: "We'll check it out and investigate if there's a problem."

I'm sure I've over-simplified this to some extent (Yay for understatements!), but I spent the morning reviewing recursion. Feel free to point out my foolishness in trying to make a molehill out of a mountain.

"The only controversy here is that it does shed light on the fact that we are responsible for killing many civilians in Iraq, and are responsible for the creation of some terrorists. To me that all seems like common sense, something we should expect to happen if we choose to go to war. That is something that should have been well known and discussed in the open before making the vote to go to war."

I totally agree. Others don't. They've decided that they don't like his 'art' and don't want their tax, and tuition, money funding it.

I personally think the game itself is worth exploring and talking about. His 'art' of sticking his face in the game seems like taking Casablanca and dubbing your voice over one of the characters and saying you've created something people should talk about. Art? Maybe. Interesting and thought provoking? Not so much.

I don't see this as a free speech issue, really. If he was spouting radically new ideas and being silenced for them, there might be a case. The whole, "The War is Causing More Terrorist Recruiting!" idea has been around for ages. In fact, there was a game shortly after 9/11 that portrayed a no-win game, that the protagonist dropped bombs on terrorist camps, but inevitable collateral damage just made regular citizens into terrorists. The only way to 'win' was not to play (WarGames, anyone?). There was some really good discussion (I believe at Watercoolergames, but I can't find it), then.

Unfortunately, we have degenerated, once again, into the ridiculous right/left, right/wrong, hippie/warmonger tripe conversations again.

An institution makes it's own rules, and money talks. So what? The guy gets more publicity for his silly reskinning of a crappy game, and gets his message out all the same. So what? I amazed that this issue got even a raised eyebrow outside of this campus. National issue, I think not.

N Thomson, I want to thank you for your sevrvice to our country. I want to make sure you understand that I appreciate, and support my military in any way I can. A few of my close friends are actively on duty in Iraq and Afganistan. My opinion of the war comes from the high regard I have for those indivuals, and what they tell me they accomplished.

But, please understand that not everyone who doesn't support the current war is a terrorist sympathizer who hates our country and troops.

Also, the idea that citizens should EVER relinquish freedoms to our government is 100% contrary to what this country was founded on. And is opposite to what we are currently fighting for. We have given Iraqis a taste of freedom at the cost of our own blood. Why? Because our freedoms are worth dying for. I refuse to accept that our government is taking away freedom while fighting to protect the very same.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

What. Utter. Bullshit.

Way to go RPI! What are you going to censor next?

"'We are still American’s who fight for our rights and freedoms including free speech and expression…”

“Who are you to say … ”

Yeah… that pretty much sums up the whole justification of the war right there.

Pretty much the usual “We’re over there fighting for your Freedoms so SHUT UP! You don’t have the Right to speak in opposition of what’s going on or being told by the ‘approved” messages of the government.”

Yep. This war really makes sense. :/"

QFT

RPI is a private school. They can do whatever they want including be douchebags. They want to be douchebags then let them. I can only hope that other alumni of the school also contact the administration and promise not to donate any money to the school until they DO put on the exhibition.

I was just looking at RPI's wikipedia page and it says that Curtis Priem, the founder of Nvidia, is a graduate. It would be intresting to see what that alumnus thinks of the situation and how much money he donates to the school...

@ N Thomson
"your missing my point to enforce the security of our freedoms and rights sometimes we have to give them up to get them back. Yes we still have them."

I completely disagree with that. The facts are that we have lost our rights, specifically our fourth amendment right protecting against search without warrents and probable cause. There is no denying that BushCo has set the nets extremely wide, and hasn't bothered getting the necessary legal proceedings to back it up.
Once rights are given up, they are much harder to get back. That is why we must safeguard them so carefully in the first place.

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security - Ben Franklin

smeagol23
Navy Vet
Gamer
Engineer

Shouldn't the FBI be doing something to prevent actual terrorist acts instead of dickin' around with a game?Oh crap, here comes the IRS.

The 1st amendment is freedom of speech as it pertains to being stiffled BY THE GOVERNMENT. Keep that one in mind at all times folks thank you for playing.

I.)Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

"So long as RPI sponsors these kinds of events, giving absolutely no consideration to military alumnus, friends and family of the university, I will not contribute a dime to the school."

to be honest i have zero complaints about this stance on the mater, if the person has complaints about the exhibits it's fully his right to voice them and withdraw his funding, he is voting with his wallet, obviously several other people also complained and the school closed the exhibit

@ Jabrwock

"I think that’s the core problem though. People have made donations, and were going to make donations, in general, to RPI, under the understanding that some was to go to the art department (or they would have earmarked it differently), but they’re stuck in the “I support the arts, but not THAT kind.” So they really *are* saying “you may use this for anything except an Iraqi art exhibit”. And I think that’s a sad way to support the arts."

Well, I seriously have to wonder if this is just a case of the minority being very loud. One alum is quoted as saying he's withdrawing funding. How much funding was that one alum providing? And one group, the College Republicans, expressed dissatisfaction with the school's decision to host the exhibit.

Again, without having any numbers, my gut says the majority of the RPI community had no problem with this, but isn't bothering to say so.

@ tony selby

He has that right, certainly. I think it's just a matter of people disagreeing with his reasoning for withdrawing his donation.

"my point to enforce the security of our freedoms and rights sometimes we have to give them up to get them back..."

Yeah... that makes absolutely no logical sense... except to the oppresors who will be allowed to say whatever they want. But it's the oppositon who must "give them up". After all, it's the ones in FAVOR of the war who are the ones telling others to give up THEIR speech. The supporters' speech is "approved" speech.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

If we intend to ban things that may or may not be terrorist recruiting tools, then we need to ban the Quran. We also need to ban the Bible, as we do have some local terrorists that use it as a recruiting tool.

The thing is, you can't fight terror with ignorance. The best way to fight terror is through education. We don't have to agree with it's message but we ought to at least have the right to hear it.

What exactly is the fear here? If I see this game, will I realize that what my government is doing is abhorrent. If so, then the problem is not the game but the government, and we have more effective methods of changing our government than blowing people up.
Terrorists recruit from the poor and opressed. Do we have too many poor and oppressed in this country? If so, again it's the fault of our government.

I'm sorry, but I see no moral reason why this exhibit should be banned, especially by an institution that claims to believe in the freedom of speech.

And as for the comments made about cutting some freedoms to protect the people, I believe Chavez is using that same line as well as several hundred other dictators throughout history. It sounds reasonable, but it always ends the same.

@lumi

"Well, I seriously have to wonder if this is just a case of the minority being very loud. "

A valid question. If it's true, one wonders if RPI can be swayed by one minor vocal group. I mean they canceled the exhibit. So either they put a lot of stock in what minority groups say, or they're terrified (ha!) that this will spill over to other investors/benefactors.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

It seems to me that the act of banning any speech/expression (assuming it contains no sensitive information) is admitting fear-admitting that you are afraid of the message, fear it might win out over your own beliefs. If you hold your own beliefs in so little regard, then yes, you have already lost.

@ Jabrwock

"A valid question. If it’s true, one wonders if RPI can be swayed by one minor vocal group. I mean they canceled the exhibit. So either they put a lot of stock in what minority groups say, or they’re terrified (ha!) that this will spill over to other investors/benefactors. "

I emailed one of my professors there earlier today when I first read this article to ask him about it. He said that it wasn't canceled; in fact, he said it "went off without a hitch". He also said that Bilal being "removed from an RPI classroom" was just a brief conference in the hallway during which he was asked some questions. It's not like he was cuffed and led off campus amidst shouts of "And don't come back!"

I don't think this was actually as big a deal as it is being made out to be, at least from what I heard.

@lumi

"I emailed one of my professors there earlier today when I first read this article to ask him about it. He said that it wasn’t canceled"

Is there a campus news site that has covered this? Or are we just relying on the Albany Times-Union?
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@ Jabrwock

I did a search of the campus newspaper's online archives, and browsed the most recent edition manually, but I found nothing. Not sure who else may have covered it.

@lumi

Apparently teachers were permitted to take their students, but the exhibit was "closed to the public" by order of RPI's President.

http://chicanafeliz.com/vlog/?p=508
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Hopefully more details emerge. Until then, RPI is still looking pretty knee-jerky and paranoid...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

“It is entirely seemly for a young man killed in battle to lie mangled by the bronze spear. In his death all things appear fair.” - Homer

maybe should update it too

“It is entirely seemly for a young man killed in battle unrecognized by a bomb blast. In his death all things appear fair.” - Neo Homer

I remember not to long ago a video was create where you can assassinate Saddam Hussein and that was accepted but as soon as you start playing the "Bad Guy" its all wrong.

I am heavy critic of Media, mainly looking at the communicative abilities of the media. There are 2 great and well know movies that are similar in store line (from what I have read), The Last Samurai and Dances with Wolves. The main difference between this story and those movies are the foreign factor.

In Dances with Wolves and Last Samurai, So one from America goes and visits a society that is losing its culture, land, people, and way of life. In Dances with Wolves, it was the Native Americas; in the Last Samurai it was the Japanese.

For those that do not know the plot synopsis, The foreigner (American) down on his luck some how gets Assigned to a far off outpost. Some how gets integrated with society of the people in that outpost. Learns their way of life, culture and etc. Then learns stands up for them and willing to fight in their battle against the people the foreigner's former associates.

I dont know about you, but if I were an American and saw that person doing that my immediate though is traitor. But then during the course of the movie they provide context to the point where the audience does not believe traitor. They are left with the belief that the foreigner is doing the right thing. But was it really? It all depends on what side of the fence you stand on.

The main difference I see in this game, is that the person is not a foreigner but of the culture and of the culture and willing to fight against those that killed his brother. Is he right? Again it all depends on what side of the fence you are on.

And for those who say it is the schools right and that they will lose money, well I say this what is the purpose of a school? Is it to turn a profit? Or is to educate, provide a place for discourse, and to learn?

Yes a school cant run without money but if the schools objective is turn a profit, they might as well stop calling it a school but a business. If I go to a school that is for-profit, they better be paying me to attend when they start to claim what I do there as theirs.

side note

I am just wondering when the Movie about the Iraq losing its way and having some foreigner help them out. I am surprise that made it about Japan especially after all the propaganda in WWII.

Hmmm Free speech but only so long as people like what you have to say... Not a gratifying spectacle, and sadly more common these days it seems. We've had our fair share of this kind of crap in the UK too. :(

Gift.

This is basically what I expected. While I have never seen the mod specifically, I have seen the original Night of Bush Capturing. And if most of the content of the original game was left intact in Bilal's mod, then yes, it would be highly offensive to family of troops, military alumni, and so forth. Additionally, OF COURSE putting yourself into a Al Queda propoganda game is going to get you noticed by the Feds.

And as I stated in the comments of the previous article, I (just like the Student President Julia Leusner) failed to see how the mod was relevant to the "message" Bilal claimed he was making. If the mod was anything close to what the original game was like, then it wouldn't have highlighted the atrocities the Iraqi people face in this war. The original game was mostly just a run-and-gun involving killing US troops and reaching the President. Did Bilal mod in scripted scenes of Iraqis suffering? Or did he just say, "hey, my brother was killed, time for revenge!"

Opinion pieces are fine, and it's great to generate awarness and dialog, but it really should make sense. Freedom of speech works a whole lot better when you use common sense to create your message.

@ everyone

The event was canceled and the Times Union was notified via a press release at 5:18PM yesterday, some of which was included in the article you are all referencing.

Actually, despite what the press release said (about investigating the intent of the game, etc.), a large reason for canceling the exhibit after the major event was because of the conversation that had been generated following Mr. Bilal's presentation and unveiling of the game.

As for the FBI part, much of that stemmed from something Bilal said; I believe it was that he had a "suspicion" there were "undercover FBI agents" at his presentation. So far, no one has been able to substantiate this. Also keep in mind that Bilal's only other major, controversial artwork involved him getting shot by a paintball gun repeatedly for a month while he stayed on one room (go to YouTube and put in a few key words, like his name and "Paintball Project" if you want to see any videos from it)--and he has recently admitted to reporters that ever since he did that, he has not been able to sleep at all and needs to take medication anytime he does. That paintball project happened back in July. I mention this because while I might not be an artist, I'm pretty sure it doesn't entail injuring yourself to the point of causing permanent damage or ripping a computer game off of a terrorist organization (without changing the basic point of the game) who hacked it from an American student.

As for the student body President--she was right about there being little or no student interest; I know she asked one of my friends and he had no clue that event was even happening, not to mention RPI students aren't all that into art. The auditorium was about half full, but I know some students were required by their professors to attend for a specific class, and a good amount of the people in attendance weren't students.

A final point that may be of interest to you guys--RPI and the State of New York were funding Bilal to visit for over a week...my guess would be that his plane ticket, board, meals, additional travel expenses, and possibly an honorarium (usually several hundred dollars), were covered, and that can get really costly. At least some of this money originated from tuition paid by RPI students.

I hope this helps clear up some things. If you have any specific questions, I might be able to answer them. The campus newspaper here isn't known for doing any kind of investigative journalism...or journalism at all, really, so I'm not surprised you didn't find anything, lumi.

I've said my piece regarding this before, and pretty much everyone has offered excellent points on both side.

The only thing I have to say, is that I'm sad that the RPI admins decided to nix the whole thing. It's a real shame. Not that I don't understand their position, but it's still a shame.

@ RPIer

Eh, the Poly is what its current staff puts into it. There was some noteworthy journalism during my four years.

What was it about the post-presentation conversation that unnerved people so? There's a great dearth of first hand knowledge here right now, which is frustrating (at least to me).

@Eville1
"The 1st amendment is freedom of speech as it pertains to being stiffled BY THE GOVERNMENT. Keep that one in mind at all times folks thank you for playing."

Saying that this a violation of his constitutional right to freedom of speech is different than saying that the institute does not support freedom of speech. The concept of supporting freedom of speech is the idea of allowing others to say what they want to say; the best way to put it "i may not agree with what you say but i will defend to the death your right to say it". RPI in this case is not allowing the artist to say what he wants to say. No laws have been broken, the constitution has not been violated, but the concept of "freedom of speech" has still been slapped in the face. If you don't like what is being said then don't listen, but you should not stop the artist from speaking... cover your ears, not their mouth

@Are'el

"Opinion pieces are fine, and it’s great to generate awarness and dialog, but it really should make sense. Freedom of speech works a whole lot better when you use common sense to create your message."

Unfortunately when it comes to art, the difference between crappy obtuse art and refined often comes down to how much effort the audience is willing to put into interpreting the piece. Build enough status or personalty cult around an artist and anything they produce will be hailed as high art ^_~

@ Monte:

"If you don’t like what is being said then don’t listen, but you should not stop the artist from speaking… cover your ears, not their mouth"

Well, they're not stopping him from speaking, they're allegedly saying "we don't want you speaking on our private property". Which is their right. RPI was only one stop along a tour he's apparently making with this exhibit.

I agree that it isn't a denial of freedom of speech.

The university has every right to decide who they invite or un-invite.

They invited him, because some people wanted them to, but when they realised that they would have to fire some teachers and cut some classes do to the outrage of their paying customers and donors, they decided that canceling his apearence now would lose them far less money than if they had let him present his content.

Personally I don't see how his mod is bad, but I haven't seen it. It could be harmless or it could be incitement to harm a the president...I don't know till I see it, which I intend to as soon as it is available...

!!!!!!!!
This has nothing to do with free speech being killed or terrorist winning or losing, all this has to do with is that our country is owned and run by businesses and corporations and bleeding hearts...
!!!!!!!!
That is a bad thing, but it has nothing to do with most of the issues raised above....

oops the above should read NOT bleeding hearts......

I definitely agree with some of the people here. If it had been the government that had stepped in and stopped the exhibit, then it would have been a violation of free speech. As it is, the people who were hosting the exhibit and paying Bilal's expences were the ones to cancel it, which is totally within thier right. Colleges are only partially funded by the state, most of the money comes from tuition and alumni.

It's like when people on the internet get mad at a forum admin for locking a thread or deleting a post. The forum is paid for by someone, and that someone has the right to regulate what is shown on their site. It's really no different for art exhibits and the like.

And let's be honest here. There are only a handful of colleges in the US that would seriously censor anti-war sentiment. At my old college, they had a whole art exhibit which included several photographs of Iraqi bombed out buildings and citizens cowering before US troops with guns. The very atrocities that Bilal said he wanted to highlight. Those photographs were up for the entire two months of the exhibit, and nobody even blinked or said they were inappropriate. So it's not like there's a big "campus conspiracy" to quell anti-war rhetoric.

All in all, I don't see this as a censorship issue.

----------------------------
Neeneko wrote:
"Unfortunately when it comes to art, the difference between crappy obtuse art and refined often comes down to how much effort the audience is willing to put into interpreting the piece. Build enough status or personalty cult around an artist and anything they produce will be hailed as high art ^_~ "

Aha! I knew it must be my fault somehow. I'm just not trying hard enough to "understand" Bilal's piece. ^_^

But seriously, I've always had a problem with a lot of modern expressions of art, because I've always believed that the best art speaks for itself. I mean, if Bilal wasn't there to provide the context for us, and tell us what we should be feeling about his piece, would the average person be able to figure it out? I honestly don't know what I'm supposed to feel when I hear he let himself get shot with paintballs for a month.

@Shady8x

"The university has every right to decide who they invite or un-invite."

Agreed.

But they shouldn't expouse their belief in free speech with the same breath. If they came out and said, "We feel a responsibility to our community to spend our school finances on work we deem to have a greater artistic value." I don't think it would make people so angry.

@ GameDevMich - The realistic and pragmatic view as it should be. It often gets lost in the tête-à-tête and hyperbole that is modern America.

@Jabrwock - I agree with your position.

@Smeagol - On the money brother.

@RPIer - thanks for the info.

Seems like there is no freedom of Speech and Expression, because people are so offended by everythying....

Plus the Academy awards rewarded a film documentry highlighting the issues in Iraq, that were against the actions of the US Army.

And everyone has no problem

But he just displays an exhibbit highlighing a Videogame about the same issue, and he gets criticised and his exhibbit gets banned or gets FBI agents on him...

And it seems that everyone embraces Movies but everyone is afraid of Videogames...

Been there, done that....

Same old news...

Ah fear mongering, it makes the sheeple dumber than ever and they still do not care.

[...] is tough one. Censorship is bad thing, but is it necessarily a good idea to have al Qaeda propaganda featured? read more | diggstory [...]

kurisu7885
true the greater point of terrorism is to change the average persons life in some way, anything after that s gravy.

The terrorists have given the US government everything they need to set democracy back 100 years.

Maybe this is why so many "artistic" endeavors in expressing views on politics are so ambiguous in their presentation. If artists were to dumb it down and get to the point, they'd be arrested!

so, im guessing were going to hell /w freedom of speech and expression

"relevant to national security". more like "relevant to our upcoming police state"
 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
Papa MidnightAh, so it was downtime. I've been seeing post appear in my RSS feed, but I was unable to access GamePolitics today across several ISPs.12/18/2014 - 6:06pm
james_fudgeSorry for the downtime today, folks.12/18/2014 - 5:54pm
PHX Corphttp://www.craveonline.com/gaming/articles/801575-sony-refuses-offer-refund-playstation-game-fraudulently-purchased-hacker Sony Refuses to Offer Refund for PlayStation Game Fraudulently Purchased by Hacker12/18/2014 - 1:43pm
NeenekoMakes sense to me, and sounds kinda cool. One cool thing about Minecraft is the meta game, you can implement other game types within its mechanics. There are servers out there with plots, an episodic single player one sound kinda cool12/18/2014 - 11:07am
MaskedPixelantehttps://mojang.com/announcing-minecraft-story-mode/ Umm... what?12/18/2014 - 10:24am
NeenekoThat would make sense. Theaters probably can not afford the liability worry or a drop in ticket sales from worried people. Sony on the other hand can take a massive writeoff, and might even be able to bypass distribution contracts for greater profit.12/18/2014 - 10:03am
ConsterNeeneko: I thought they cancelled it because the major cinema franchises were too scared of terrorist attacks to show the film?12/18/2014 - 9:55am
Neeneko@Wonderkarp - there is still a lot of debate regarding if the movie was a motive or not. Unnamed officials say yes, the timeline says no.12/18/2014 - 9:10am
NeenekoSomething does not smell right though, Sony is no stranger to being hacked, so why cancel this film? For that matter, they are still not giving in to hacker's original demands as far as I know.12/18/2014 - 9:06am
PHX Corp@prh99 Not to mention the Dangerous Precedent that sony's hacking scandal just set http://mashable.com/2014/12/17/sony-hackers-precedent/12/18/2014 - 8:25am
Matthew WilsonI hope its released to netflix or amazon12/18/2014 - 12:11am
prh99Basically they've given every tin pot dictator and repressive regime a blue print how to conduct censorship abroad. The hecklers veto wins again. At least when it comes to Sony and the four major theater chains.12/17/2014 - 11:55pm
MaskedPixelante"It's not OUR fault that our game doesn't work, it's YOUR fault for having so many friends."12/17/2014 - 9:48pm
Matthew Wilsonapparently tetris did not work because he has a full friends list12/17/2014 - 9:21pm
WonderkarpSo Sony cancelled the release of the Interview. was it ever confirmed that the Sony hacking was done because of that specific movie?12/17/2014 - 8:54pm
MaskedPixelanteWow, Ubisoft went four for four, I didn't think it was actually possible.12/17/2014 - 8:37pm
MechaTama31Oh, ok, I was mixing up "on Greenlight" and "Greenlit".12/17/2014 - 8:23pm
Matthew Wilson@phx you beat me to it. how do you screw up tetris?! my ubisoft this is just stupid. no one should ever preorder a ubisoft game again! ps people should never preorder any game regardles of dev.12/17/2014 - 6:28pm
PHX Corphttp://www.ign.com/videos/2014/12/17/what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-tetris-ps4 I give up on ubisoft12/17/2014 - 6:01pm
 

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