ACLU May Sue Troy, NY in Game Controversy...

March 13, 2008 -

The furor sparked by Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal's controversial video game exhibit has seemingly taken on a life of its own.

In the latest news, officials of the New York Civil Liberties Union said that the organization may file suit against the city of Troy. As GamePolitics reported yesterday, city officials used local building codes to shut down Bilal's exhibit at a local studio. Executive Director Melanie Trimble of the Capital Region chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union told the Schenectady Daily Gazette:
 

The city is suppressing free speech, and they will face consequences. You cannot prevent people from assembling. It is an infringement of their First Amendment rights.


At the heart of the issue is the role of political figure Bob Mirch (left), a Republican with deep political connections in local and state politics. As reported by the Daily Gazette:
 

Mirch is head of [Troy's] Department of Public Works, works for [Republican] state Sen. Joseph Bruno as a constituent liaison and is Republican majority leader on the Rensselaer County Legislature.


Steve Pierce, director of the Sanctuary for Independent Media, which was shut down by Troy less than 24 hours after Bilal's exhibit opened, said:
 

We have [Mirch] on video saying, ‘I am the director of public works, and I am organizing this protest.’ The next day they shut us down. It is an issue of selective enforcement.


http://www.youtube.com/v/O87DtGSo_NY&hl=en

 


Comments

Bet if this had supported the war, or the idiot who shut it down would have been singing a whole other song.

For once, I think the ACLU might have a case. They can be frivolous at times, but I'm glad we have a group watching the watchers.

do we need any more idiocy

I hope that the ACLU has the best of luck and shuts down Mirch.

Good. I was hoping some organization would get involved in this. So, by this time 2010 Bilal's exhibit will finally be allowed to see the light of day.

Eh 2010? I think that maybe be a little to soon. ACLA tends to babble on non choherntly at times.

I'll grant that I only hear of the ACLU intermittently (since I don't live in the US), but whenever I do, they always seem to be on the right side of whatever case they're involved in. I don't see why they've got the reputation for frivolous lawsuits they've got. My first impulse is to suspect the American media's conservative bias.

Maybe a lawyer could correct me on this, but wouldn't the ACLU have to demonstrate intent in order to win?

Am I the only one who finds it amusing that he has a Hitler-style stashe? Godwin's Law aside, I hope the ACLU tears this idiot a new one, and I bet they'd have a hard time finding a judge who wouldn't agree with them.

@konrad_arflane

They tend at times to file lawsuits that are pointless and frivoulse, but yes there thends to be a great bais, mostly from neoconservatives.

But they don't file frivously as the media would like people to think.

Hm, I'm not sure which side to take. On one hand, I wholeheartedly support free speech and the elimination of censorship, but on the other hand, I really don't agree with calling Bilal's exhibit "art"...

Sounds like the right move to make, this guy sounds like a pompous self important wanker who felt a brief rush of power (presumably when it was on its way to someone important) and liked it.

Also, the more I look at the picture, I get the feeling that he reminds me of one of those characters in an english movie of the 60s or 70s and say things like "That adolph hitler, he had some good ideas". Not saything he is even remotely connected to the nazi thing (and isn't an application of that internet+nazi=irrelevant argument law) but he just kinda reminds me of that kind of character.

I hope the ACLU sues the town...

The government had no right to shut down that exhibit...

@Dark Sovereign

"Maybe a lawyer could correct me on this, but wouldn’t the ACLU have to demonstrate intent in order to win?"

IANAL, but they could show a pattern of "selective" enforcement of the building codes. That the Sanctuary has only been targeted for violations when it suited the city politically. That and the fact that the prior to the exhibit, the building was cleared for use, and only after the Public Works Commissioner's protest does the department reverse itself? That and they've got him on record stating that the show is not worthy of free speech protection... I think that clearly demonstrates that he allowed the abuse to happen, even if he wasn't directly responsible. And that's usually good enough for a civil suit.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Pretty much what I said yesterday.

"Hm, I’m not sure which side to take. On one hand, I wholeheartedly support free speech and the elimination of censorship, but on the other hand, I really don’t agree with calling Bilal’s exhibit “art”…"

Fortunately, you don't have to. Even if it isn't art, it's still clearly and unequivocally political speech, and is entitled to First Amendment protection. Indeed, the fact that art is protected in the first place seems to me to be a kind of "accident", or at least an indirect consequence of the protection of political speech - since whether or not a work of art is "political", censoring it is inevitably a political act.

That reminds me -- time to renew my membership.

@NeW SpEcTrUM

"On one hand, I wholeheartedly support free speech and the elimination of censorship, but on the other hand, I really don’t agree with calling Bilal’s exhibit “art”…"

As Konrad_arflane said, political speech is protected too.

I find the "it's not art" defense to be, well, lame. When Madison first proposed the 1st Amendment, he wanted to protect the right to speak, to write, or to publish your sentiments. Clearly he was thinking of the expression of ideas, probably not just those confined by writing or oral communication. But at the time, that's really all he had. You either had a newspaper, or you stood on a soapbox. Art itself wasn't really understood as a "conveyor" of ideas...

In Canada, our constitution uses the line "freedom of expression", mostly because it was written in 1982, so we understood that conveying of ideas could be done by more than just a mouth or a pen...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Free speech my ass. The ACLU wouldn't be shaking any trees if it were a CAUCASIAN spouting similar nastiness towards a different ethnic group (pick one, it doesn't matter except for, perhaps one of Jewish decent). The ACLU may have once had very noble ideals, but they've fallen so far from their tree they've become, at best, a nuisance. IMHO, they're media whores who are just as bad, if not worse, as JT. They live in a theoretic world where reality has no place and human nature doesn't exist. They share the same stage as life-long academics, sheltered from the world as most of the rest of us know it.

IMO, YMMV.

Mirch is the kind of person who simply should not be in a position of governmental authority. Imagine how he would abuse his power if he held a higher station than Director of Public Works.

@Jabrwock
The Canadian constitution is only 26 years old? Does this mean I'm older than Canada?

Canada's latest constitution reform was done in 1982, before that we needed London's consent to modify it. As a confederation, Canada exist since 1867, before that, each province were considered different colonies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Act%2C_1982

@Aliasalpha

"The Canadian constitution is only 26 years old? Does this mean I’m older than Canada?"

Heh, no. We were created by the British North America Act of 1867. I meant the current form of the constitution, which was re-written in 1982 to include both the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (sort of like your amendments, only the whole document was re-written to include them), and to formalize our complete independence from the UK (since the 30's though it's pretty much been a given anyway).

@Joke

"Free speech my ass. The ACLU wouldn’t be shaking any trees if it were a CAUCASIAN spouting similar nastiness towards a different ethnic group"

Uh, yes they have. They've defended the Westboro Baptist Church's right to be arseholes at funerals, they've defended SPAM. Heck didn't you watch The Blues Brothers, they defended Illinois Nazis! ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Well, I'm terrified and I'm an athiest american of irish descent. Reading that gave me a terrible chill down my spine. When I close my eyes I can see the flecks of spittle starting to foam at the corner of that scumbag politician's mouth.

D'oh! Wrong article.

What happened? There was a story up about an interview Mirsch did, now it's gone.

It crashed aand burned from out scorned anger, like a prevoise acticle said

"Hell hath no scorn like an angry gamer"

Wups. Tried to post a comment - got blown out - oh well, will retype.

At the risk of being painted as partially evil myself, I will point out that his comments about muslims having a history of violence isn't COMPLETELY off-base. There is a long historical record of such, the problem with that logic is that just about every religion in the world, short of maybe hindu and some of the more peaceful forms of eastern religions have a long historical record of violence, so picking on the muslims for it, hardly serves a purpose.

That said, it's obvious that somebody needs to shut this guy up. Maybe the ACLU, maybe someone over him in the chain of command needs to have him fired. Maybe just somebody who cares about him needs to sit down with and say, "dude...LISTEN TO WHAT YOU ARE SAYING". Doesn't really matter, I'm not going to judge him, the bottom line is he needs to stop talking. QUICKLY.

What happened to the article about Bilal and Mirch on the talk show?

@ jadedcritic

His comments about Muslims being violent may not be COMPLETELY off base, but like you pointed out, many other religions have a similar history. Let's face facts, they say prostitution is the oldest profession, but I'd say killer is even older. Humans have been fighting and killing each other since pre-history. It's in our nature. Yes, some Muslim clerics promote violence on "infidels," but so do many world leaders and random people on the street (in their own ways).

If we're going to censor people based on whether they're ancestors were violent, we might as well shut down all communication. About the only person who MIGHT pass would be the Dali Lama.

I am not a fan of the ACLU, but I support them on this one. You do not ban or abridge speech just because you do not like it.

@ Gameboy

Samething chould be said about christianity, also which Dala Lama? Some I would say some are as close to white on humanity as you could get.

Thank God for the ACLU.

@Joker
It's one thing to imply the ACLU is too ivory tower for your taste, but I think your accusation of racism is out of line. Opinion or not, that's pretty heavy accusation to lay down without any support or examples.

I question that you are as familiar with the organization's work as you think you are.

I'm happy they're planning a lawsuit over this. The sudden reversal of building code approval is what really upsets me about this.

Random note, that is a very unflattering picture.

Damn, I just already hate Bob Mirch. Just look at his picture. Is the face of the hypocresy.

Wait, that dude in the pic is Mirch?

I guess is some cases you can judge a book by the cover.

@ Ebonheart

That was my point. Every religion, country, even the individual people have said or done things that are wrong. Look at the United States. We've held slaves, denied people the right to vote, stolen lands from native peoples, we're the only country to ever use a nuclear bomb (and we did it twice). If someone wants to deny a Muslim (or a Christian for that matter) a public forum, why shouldn't we Americans be denied the same? Why shouldn't we deny the French a forum? Hindu?

The Dali Lama is the head of the Tibetan Buddhist monks. At one time the Dali Lama was the leader of the Tibetan government. Today, he resides in India after being deposed by the Chinese government.

"At the risk of being painted as partially evil myself, I will point out that his comments about muslims having a history of violence isn’t COMPLETELY off-base. There is a long historical record of such, the problem with that logic is that just about every religion in the world, short of maybe hindu and some of the more peaceful forms of eastern religions have a long historical record of violence, so picking on the muslims for it, hardly serves a purpose."

(Since the comment ended up here, I'll respond here, even if the article it relates to was removed)

Hinduism certainly has its share of violent adherents. Hindu nationalists in India, for example (though they don't get much attention in the Western press, possibly because they're mainly attacking Muslims...). Or Hindu fundamentalists attacking people who break the rules of the caste system.

The only world religion, AFAIK, that doesn't get much violence in its name is Buddhism. But maybe someone will enlighten me (pardon the pun).

@ Joker

Free speech my ass. The ACLU wouldn’t be shaking any trees if it were a CAUCASIAN spouting similar nastiness towards a different ethnic group

Nice rant, too bad you have no clue what you're talking about. The ACLU has assisted Neo-Nazi groups protect their right to speech and assembly in the past. They don't care what kind of unpopular speech it is, they care that it's protected.

konrad: Prior to China's invasion of Tibet and Tenzin Gyatsu becoming the current Dali Lama, Tibet was an absolute hellhole, even moreso than today. It was nothing but an absolutely cruel theocracy. Of course, Tenzin Gyatsu doesn't practice that, but he wasn't in power for very long, and probably would have continued with it had China not invaded.

I've never known much about Tibet, only that the Dali Lama once lived there and that China invaded. Thats all I know about the place.

I'm sick of the word "un-American" being used to keep Bilal's exibit from being shown. It's "Un-American" to keep Bilal's exibit from being shown.

Dark Sovereign said: "Maybe a lawyer could correct me on this, but wouldn’t the ACLU have to demonstrate intent in order to win?"

Check out the next post. I think it's got intent pretty well covered.

D'oh, nevermind, I read the NEXT next story and found out it was redacted. Nevermind me here.

Retracted, rather. Redacted is something else.

...I'll just be going now.

@konrad_arflane

Every culture and religion in history have a violent past (and present).

http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2816

They've got a video of the Sanctuary intro presentation.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

"I’m sick of the word “un-American” being used to keep Bilal’s exibit from being shown. It’s “Un-American” to keep Bilal’s exibit from being shown."

@Ebonheart: "Un-American" is a simple poisoning of the well. It's used frequently because, sadly, it's extremely effective. Just look at Joe McCarthy's reign of terror in the 50s. In post-9/11 USA, the term is heavily used by the Right to silence any views they disagree with.

@ Creature 9

Huh, I thought it was the phrase you with us, or you agianst us.

@ Jabrwock

Many thanks for the link to watch the exibit.
 
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ConsterSleaker: if you think there's only been "a handful of" incidents, you have your head stuck *somewhere* - I'm assuming it's sand.09/20/2014 - 5:38am
prh99Most of it's agitprop clickbait anyway.09/20/2014 - 5:27am
prh99A good reason to stop reading reguardless of view pointhttp://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli.09/20/2014 - 5:22am
Andrew EisenWell this is unique! A musical critique of the Factual Feminist's "Are Video Games Sexist?" video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K4s7cV4Us409/20/2014 - 2:41am
Andrew EisenSome locked threads. Some let them be. So, no, I'm not seeing a problem here. No corruption. No collusion. No ethical problem with privately discussing ethics.09/20/2014 - 12:48am
Andrew EisenAnd still, in the end, Tito made up his own mind on how to handle his site. All 150 or so members went off to handle their own sites in their own ways. Some talked about it. Some didn't. Some changed disclosure policies. Some didn't.09/20/2014 - 12:40am
Andrew EisenThere were two comments other than Kochera and Tito's. One pointed out the Escapist Code of Conduct, another comment was in support of Tito.09/20/2014 - 12:40am
Andrew EisenKochera privately expressed his disagreement on how Tito decided to do something. No, I don't consider that crossing a line nor do I consider the exchange an example of the group pressuring him.09/20/2014 - 12:36am
Kronotechnical reasons. Anyways, I need to get to sleep as well.09/20/2014 - 12:29am
KronoAnd he wasn't the only one pushing Tito to censor the thread. If Tito had bowed to peer pressure, we likely wouldn't have gotten this http://goo.gl/vKiYtR which grew out of that thread. Said thread also lasted until a new one needed to be made for09/20/2014 - 12:28am
Krono@Andrew So it's an example of Kuchera crossing the line from reporter to advocate. And an example of the group pressuring for censorship.09/20/2014 - 12:21am
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Andrew EisenSo?09/20/2014 - 12:13am
KronoExcept that the forum thread wasn't harassment, and Kuchera continued to push for the thread's removal after Tito made it clear he didn't consider it harassment.09/20/2014 - 12:12am
Andrew EisenPersonally, I see nothing wrong with someone offering their opinion or the other person making up their own mind on how to run their site.09/20/2014 - 12:06am
E. Zachary KnightKrono, I read nothing of the sort in that email chain. I read Ben giving advice on what to do when a forum thread is used to harass someone and spread falshoods about them and others.09/20/2014 - 12:05am
KronoThat's exactly what Ben Kuchera was doing to Greg Tito.09/19/2014 - 11:58pm
Krono@EZK So you see nothing wrong with one journalist pressuring a journalist from a different organization to not only not run a story, but to censor a civil discussion already taking place?09/19/2014 - 11:56pm
E. Zachary KnightI write for a number of blogs and talk to people who write similar blogs all the time for tips and advice. I see nothing wrong with that.09/19/2014 - 11:50pm
 

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