Republican Leads Protest as Game-Art Exhibit is Expelled From RPI

March 11, 2008 -

The fallout continues at New York's Rensselaer Polytechnical University (RPI) following last week's cancellation of a controversial video game art exhibit by Iraqi citizen and Art Institute of Chicago professor Wafaa Bilal. 

As reported by the Albany Times-Union, the exhibition, suspended last week while school officials conducted a review, has now been officially expelled from campus. The head of RPI's Art Department has been ordered to have the exhibit hauled away by day's end. Of the decision, RPI VP William Walker said via press release:
 

As stewards of a private university, we have the right and, indeed, the responsibility to ensure that university resources are used in ways that are in the overall best interests of the institution.


Bilal's exhibit was moved to the off-campus Sanctuary for Independent Media where protesters, led by Robert Mirch (left), Republican majority leader of the Rensselaer County Legislature, expressed their disapproval. Mirch told the Times-Union:
 

We're upset about the video game. He can show it. I don't have to approve it...


This Mirch quote appears on a separate Times-Union blog:
 

The Sanctuary for Independent Media should cancel this exhibit immediately. Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive. I support free speech, but this exhibit goes beyond the bounds of what is decent or acceptable.


A counter-protest, organized in support of Bilal, was also present at the exhibit's new location.  

Comments

"Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive."

It's perfectly "American" to assassinate a president. Several American presidents have been assassinated, and Americans have called for the assassination of several presidents of other countries. Destroying what we don't like IS the American way.

As others have pointed out, the assassination of a president has been the plot of countless movies, TV shows, home-made shorts, games, mods, comics, plays, music, and books. And of all that media, how many have actually incited the killing of an actual president?


"I support free speech, but this exhibit goes beyond the bounds of what is decent or acceptable."

That's why we dub it "Freedom Of Speech." If we create a list of what everyone in the country found offensive, we'd have a list of everything in the world. We're allowed free speech (though, we're not guaranteed to be free from the consequences of our speech), because someone is going to get emotionally distraught over anything, anyway. "Freedom Of Speech" is the polite way of "STFU, cry-baby!".

It's the institute's decision to allow or disallow whatever exhibit they choose, but claiming that it's offensive to a couple of people is ridiculous. Do you know how many people find the Statue Of Liberty offensive? More than a few. So, when are we gonna go knock it down?

@gummy

No. Sorry. I think I'm going to keep talking to you, since you know, I can. If you don't like it, you can take your own advice and leave, since what you want really doesn't matter to me. Simple as that.

Wow, gummy, you sure do have a black and white view of the world, don't you?

@ gummy

Your still looking solely at face value, you can not look at things like that. Ok example Face value of BF2 Insurgent army.

I get stuck playing as them a lot, and just becuase I play as them doesn't mean I'm in support of terrists. Now just becuase I use nefarouse techniques (suicide bombing on the tanks, or jeep bombs, and the accostional C4 in the road) Doesn't mean I would do, or consider such things in reality land.

Face value of such action in a game "You sir are a terrist! You win a free all expense paid trip to GiTMo! Congradulations!"

@Ebonheart

"weall agree the collage isn’t censoring out right, but worried about life and property."

No, they're worried about funding, because the club that organized the protests found a bunch of vocal alumni to threaten to withdraw funding if the college went ahead with it. And I'm willing to bet they called the FBI and building inspectors too...

The only "life and property" worries were the FBI, and after looking into things, the worst they've done is state they'll show up to "have a look", and they questioned the artist for a few minutes. Other than that, any "life and property" claims the college is making is complete Cover Your Ass (TM) maneuvering to justify their actions. Pretend it was all in the best interest of their students and all that bull.

"I support free speech, but this exhibit goes beyond the bounds of what is decent or acceptable."

The reason we have the First Amendment is because of statements like this.

"As stewards of a private university, we have the right and, indeed, the responsibility to ensure that university resources are used in ways that are in the overall best interests of the institution."

And while we ourselves will make that decision, we will subsequently allow vocal republicans to alter that decision for us. For while we knew full well what the artist was doing, we had no idea people would make such a fuss. And as such we will hide behind "accountability" and "responsibility" as a CYA move.

Mirch is pretty self-contradictory there... "He can show it", but "the Sanctuary should cancel this exhibit immediately... because it goes beyond what is decent or acceptable."

So either it's ok to show, or it's not. Make up your mind.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

They are absolutely right that the university doesn't have to show this exhibit, or any exhibit. However, they were willing to do so until these narrow minded people got involved.
Therefore its not a case of the Universities right to show or not show an exhibit of any subject, they HAD CHOSEN to show it. Its now become censorship and thats shocking in such a setting.

@Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive.@

Its ridiculous to claim it unsuitable to have media that portrays an attempt on the life of the president. What about 24? thats about terrorism, Or that new film Vantage point - isn't that about an assasination attempt?
Ignoring the actual fact that this isnt really about attacking Bush as far as I can tell ( conjecture without playing the game ), its merely modding a game that was about americans attacking Iraqis, and making it about iraqis attacking americans.
Oh I forgot, Games aren't Media - they are murder simulators...

"Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive."

I guess this guy has never watched any television programs, films, plays, or any form of media... ever.

@ Jabrwock

Yes, the contridictions are astounding. In the same breath he says Bilal can show it but can't. I love how he got it removed from RPI and is now trying to pressure SIM into removing it. But with a Name like Sactuary, I doubt he will get far.

I hope that the people who support Bilal far outnumber the people who are against this display.

Mr Mirch really needs to learn American history and philosophy before he spews reprocessed Joseph McCarthy dribble from his lips.

@Bob

"its merely modding a game that was about americans attacking Iraqis, and making it about iraqis attacking americans."

It's not even that. An Al Queda-affilliated group already did that. He just pasted his picture on the main character's face so he could insert himself into the story (because his brother was supposedly killed by shrapnel from a US missile) so he's exploring the "what if I had gone down that path" angle as part of his exhibit.

"Therefore its not a case of the Universities right to show or not show an exhibit of any subject, they HAD CHOSEN to show it. Its now become censorship and thats shocking in such a setting."

Yeah, it's getting tiring explaining that. ;) The University chose to show it, invited him, reviewed his work, and clearly approved or they would have un-invited him before we ever heard about him. Only after the whining swelled once the public realized what was in the exhibit, did they cave to calls for censorship.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@Zerodash
sorry had to post again. Read your post and its spot on.
'We agree with Free Speech as long as that speech is acceptable and decent to me.'
Wow, if your constitution had been written by idiots like this what a different world !!
I cant believe people actually say this stuff. I hope this guy is Client 8 with Spitzer, true colours and all that.

Heh. I love how portrayals of OTHER countiers presidents is a'ok, but our's is somehow bad. It is really amazing how people like this Mitch have turned the word patriotism isn't something kinda slimy.

Though somehow I doubt he would be nearly as interested in the situation if Clinton were president. Many 'patriotism on your sleeve' republicans seem to consider clintion so horrible that all those normal rules just don't apply (even though Bill was in many ways more socially concervative then Bush)

Let's run Mr. Mirch through the BS filter/translator...


We insert:

"The Sanctuary for Independent Media should cancel this exhibit immediately. Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive. I support free speech, but this exhibit goes beyond the bounds of what is decent or acceptable."

and the translator returns:

"These evil liberals should cancel this exhibit immediately. Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of an American president who is not Bill Clinton to be staged is wrong, un-nationalist, and something I don't like. I support free speech, but not when it is speech I do not agree with."

There, fixed!

I do support Mirch's right the disagree with the content of the exhibit and to express his feelings and why he feels them. I draw the line where he starts to assert that since he doesn't like it, no one else should be allowed to make a decision for themselves.

@neeneko

Yes, isn't it amazing how it is okay to kill someone remarkably similar to Kim Jong-Il in "Mercenaries", but pruning the shrub is over the line?

I recently read an Non Sequitur comic in which it portrayed an empty news stand. The sign above the stand read "News Guaranteed to not Offend Anyone". A man and a woman were looking at it and the man says, "Oddly enough, I feel offended."

That seems to be how it goes.

But as for his comments on the Bush Assassination thing, it is a valid form of speech. Some people do feel that assassination is the only recourse for Bush's failures. Motions to impeach have not made it passed consideration. Jan 21, 2009 seems like and eon away. So what are they to do? Wait an watch as he continues to destroy the US until hopefully someone other than Hillary or a republican can step in and clean up the mess. Seems like a great solution.

Of course I would not condone assassinating Bush unless Chaney were assassinated along with him. I do not want to see Chaney as president even for less than a year.

Dennis ... why do you include the word "Republican" in the headline of this article? Because I noted that the article about governor Spitzer doesn't say "Democrat" in the headline, even though he most assuredly is.

Just a question, not trying to incite a a riot here (although, if I did, it would be pretty fun): Has anyone seen the exhibit? Is there anyway to get video or maybe firsthand knowledge of the mod? I'd like to at least see the thing before I form an opinion.

If anyone finds links, thanks in advance.

See, I don't see the problem here. There is no First Amendment issue here. Congress isn't making any law restricting anything in this case. It's a private matter as far as I'm concerned. School told art department guy to bring someone in, he chose someone, the school said we don't like his thing and don't want him here.

The first amendment doesn't garentee a forum to voice your opinion. If I'm painting and the muse grabs you and now YOu want to paint, I don't HAVE to give you my brush. I'm not encroaching on your first amendment rights because I won't give you my brush for you to paint. Go find your own paint brush.

Just because the school won't let him put up his art exhibit doesn't encroach on his freedom of speach. If he wanted he could build a museum right on the other side of their property line and show his exhibit all day long. They are just saying he can't use their property.

In the end, this has nothing to do with the 1st Amandment, the war, terrorism, republicans, democrats, or anything else. It's a non-story. The people are protesting the schools decision, and they are allowed to do so. But trying to bring these other things into it are just hiding the issue.

"Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive."

can you say MISSING THE POINT

The whole exhibit was created to show that the US actions have lead to the creation of such a game , that is now used by AlQaeda to recruit more fighters. Your not meant to say 'oh wow assassinating the president, great' your meant to be outraged, but then ask yourself why would anyone produce such a thing. And when you have your answer to why, then your seeing the point.

@ Kris

""As others have pointed out, the assassination of a president has been the plot of countless movies, TV shows, home-made shorts, games, mods, comics, plays, music, and books. And of all that media, how many have actually incited the killing of an actual president?""


Great point! well said, complete hypocracy.

@ Spartan

This IS American history/philosophy. Shit like this and McCarthyism aren't the exception, it's the rule

@mogbert

Please read the comments and articles. You're right, this isn't about free speech. But it *is* about a school bowing to threats from a vocal minority.

The school said he could use their property. They knew what his exhibit entailed. They only changed their mind when a bunch of screaming Republican club protesters decided to make a stink and call the FBI...

So it still is about censorship. Because the club and it's supporters were trying to get the exhibit censored. And through monetary threats, they succeeded...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@ Spartan

This IS American history/philosophy. Shit like this and McCarthyism aren't the exception, it's the rule

@ Void Munashii

Haha, 'pruning the shrub'. Gold.

But no one likes Bush anyway. Why should any Republican care? Heck, last time I checked, almost EVERYONE hates him now.

WOW!

When did this week become "hypocracy week"?

Ok these idiots get lumped in with Spitzer, JT, and the rest of the gang. Time to move on.

"I support free speech, but this exhibit goes beyond the bounds of what is decent or acceptable."

Wait... when did free speech come under the condition that it's decent and acceptable. That's the whole concept of free speech, being able to say things that aren't decent, and aren't acceptable. Free speech is just that, FREE speech, not "free unless i don't approve" speech.

Whether or not anyone likes it this man has the right to express himself, even if what you think he said is offensive.

He has the right to protest against the exibit and he has every right to call for the showing's cancelation. Everyone needs to calm down about this and stop lobbing insults at the man.

@jkdjr25

"He has the right to protest against the exibit and he has every right to call for the showing’s cancelation."

We're not objecting (too loudly) to that. We're objecting to his two-facedness in that he's willing to stand up for freedom of speech, as long as it's "decent and acceptable". That he claims that he's willing to defend this guy's right to show his art, but will come down hard on anyone who actually provides the man a venue to do so...

That's like saying you support freedom of speech as long as people keep their mouths shut... ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

When did the term "un-American" become synonymous with "evil" and "offensive to me"? Shouldn't that simply denote something that is foreign-born?

And the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. "He can show it", "I support free speech", "They should shut it down". One of those phrases doesn't fit with the rest.

@ jkdjr25:
I take no offense to the fact that he is protesting, but I particularly dislike the very things he is saying. I still have my rights as an American citizen and as a human being to voice that opinion, do I not?

Final thought: that art exhibit is fine where it is, but I am still ashamed to think that a university, of all places, shut down the entire exhibit along with Bilal's piece first.

Perhaps this guy should show up to my alma mater and throw a fit when the Gay-Straight Alliance puts on an event.

@Verbinator

It's funny that you say that, because I've noticed the exact opposite from the mainstream press. Every news report I've seen/heard on tv and radio has identified Spitzer as being a democrat, and I don't remember that during the Foley affair the media always specifically identified him by his political affiliation.

hahahaha! he used the term "unamerican" !

lose.

@ jkdjr25

"He has the right to protest against the exibit and he has every right to call for the showing’s cancelation. Everyone needs to calm down about this and stop lobbing insults at the man."

Are you sure you read everything the man said? Nothing blatantly hypocritical and contradictory jumps out at you?

He has the right to protest this piece. I think it's a stupid opinion, but he has a right to express it. Wanting it gone from RPI makes him... yeah, whatever. But then chasing it to the Sanctuary, and protesting there, too? What possible explanation is there for that other than wanting to completely censor the exhibit? "Not only are you not allowed to do it on school grounds, I don't want you to do it ANYWHERE."

And all this without examining his actual words, which pretty much prove our point for us. I may not dispute his right to express his opinion, but I fervently hold that his opinion and actions make him a craven asshole who should be ignored utterly.

republicans can handle video games and political view points that don't fit with them so when the two collide they go way overboard.

they are expelling the kid for expressing a viewpoint about what the war is doing to people in Iraq that they don't agree with

THAT IS ALL THIS IS. nothing more. it should be condemned.

"The reason we have the First Amendment is because of statements like this."
RPI is a PRIVATE school and they have the right to allow/disallow what is shown on their campus. Of course, they look like fools. But then following the exhibit to an off-campus site and trying to get it banned there is just silly.

PRIVATE institution. They can present, or not present, anything they want. it's their building.

Hmm This reminds me of people that were speaking after the Dixie Chicks incident.

Hell I watched their documentary "Shut up and Sing" and lots of what was being said can be used here.

Here is a couple of quotes from the movie

"I love their music, but I wish they would just shut up and sing"

"freedom of speech is fine but by God you don't do it outside of the country and you don't do it in mass publicly"

"They don’t know what they’re talking about. Callow foolish women, who deserve to be slapped around."

Of course the Tagline is movie fits perfectly

"Freedom of speech is fine, as long as you don't do it in public."

@Skyler, Cronotose

"Private school"

Yes, it is. What we're complaining about is that the SCHOOL decided to show the work. And then the SCHOOL canceled it, because they were scared of protests and the FBI... But only after people started protesting.

So while the school had every right to decide what to show, we're complaining about how spineless they were in the face of hypocrites who pledge that they support freedom of speech, but only conditionally.

Especially considering that many of those protesters who claimed that a private school has the right to decide what to show, are now demanding that another institution also "obey them" when it comes to demanding that this exhibit not be shown. So they're fine with a private institution making it's own decision about what to show, as long as it agrees with them...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

"Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive."

I'd like to take this moment and ask - what the HELL does un-American mean?

Is there even an "American"? Tens of mixed races, cultures and religions, a constitutional love for firearms and some of the finest examples of individuals with an IQ that matches their shoe number (Smart people - no offense), and yet this small game is "un-American".

:-/

@Verbinator

It may be because of who else is involved... in the Spitzer article, he is alone in his controversy. However, in this situation, Mirch is not alone, he is just one of many other republicans involved; afterall, it was republicans who have been most vocal about this whole exhibit and did the most to get the school to cancel it.

@K


Bush is the president of America. The guy makes a game ware you kill the president of America. Some people see that us "un-American" crazy huh?


By the way, this is not free speech. This is a threat. Someone makes a game ware you kill the president, is just as much as saying "I want to kill the president" and is a threat. And he should be expelled. If someone at a school made a game about school shootings ware you killed a certain person in the school that is REAL. Lets say the principal. and you went around saying " the game is to draw attention to the fact of how easy it is to get guns, also how most shooters have psychological problems"

You would be thrown out of the school and maybe even put in jail. Just like you should be.

You know, one day you guys are going to wake up and then you will understand whats been happening this entire time, but by then it will be to late.

@gummy

"Someone makes a game ware you kill the president, is just as much as saying “I want to kill the president” and is a threat.... You would be thrown out of the school and maybe even put in jail. Just like you should be."

This is what investigations are for. The FBI looked into it, and realized that it was a threat made in the context of a story told in an art exhibit, ie not a real threat, but a fictional one.

So no, it's not illegal. There's a line that can be crossed, and he didn't cross it.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@gummy

By your logic the guys at Eidos Interactive want to kill Cheney and should all be put in jail.

@gummy

You have shown how ignorant people can be, completely missed the point or even what the game is about. You dont know the background of the game. You just latched onto sensationalist part and started screaming your head off.

So a game that assassinates Kim Jong Ill is ok then? or A game that assassinates Saddam Hussein?

I guess games that kill terrorist or Arabs should be banned to? After all your making a game about killing people. Thats a threat and you should be thrown in jail. Hell lets attach that with a hate crime since the game is targeting a specific group of people. Well I am going to call the FBI to arrest the people in the military to arrest the people for America's Army.

I know lets arrest the all the movie and tv people that have created stories about killing the president.

Why does this remind me of that movie made by Turkey, Valley of the Wolves: Iraq Where are Americas are portrayed in a negative light and create a huge controversy, while its ok to portray Middle Easterns in our media in a negative light; True Lies, 24, Back to the Future and etc.

@F**ked Up

"So a game that assassinates Kim Jong Ill is ok then? or A game that assassinates Saddam Hussein?I guess games that kill terrorist or Arabs should be banned to? After all your making a game about killing people."

The difference is, games like call of duty 4, have us killing our enemy's that we are at war with. Not our own president. I mean come on! Don't you get it. Thats all I have to say on that issue. Its sort of cut and dry.

The only Middle Easterns portrayed in a negative light in 24 our the terrorists. What the hell is wrong with you? This last season, The star (Jack) was getting help from a Middle Eastern man who was helping jack stop the terrorists. Also, I thought the show this season, stood up for The Muslim community. One of the people at CTU, was a Muslim, Who was also stopping the terrorists. And countless other things, which I'm not going to even go into because its just a stupid tv show and has nothing to do with this.

Don't bother arguing with gummy, everyone. Bush-worshippers think they are never wrong.

@Rukon Zappa

Thanks for proving how stupid you really are.

I don't like Bush, I think he is destroying the country. The only reason he got elected is because is less of an idiot the guy he was running against. So then why do I stick up for him, its weird. I guess I'm sort of patriotic, I mean I don't hate everything he has done. And they have foiled tons of terrorist plots, so I give him a thumb up for that one. So as I said before, thanks for sharing your stupidity. Now get away from me and go pollute someone else's mind.

@gummy

You just needed to state your side, you didn't have to get snippy about it.

@kurisu7885

I don't like someone who makes ridiculous assumptions there for antagonizing the person just because that someone has nothing to say that has anything to do with facts or logic.
 
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