After Booting Controversial Game Art Exhibit, RPI Goes After College Republicans

March 13, 2008 -

At Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy, New York, the fallout continues in the wake of the school's cancellation of a controversial game art exhibit.

As reported by the Albany Times-Union, the College Republicans, who were instrumental in drawing attention to visiting artist Wafaa Bilal's Virtual Jihadi exhibit, have had their website shut down. RPI officials said the action was taken because the College Republican site referred to the RPI Arts Department as "a terrorist safehaven."

With an official disciplinary review pending, Dean of Students Mark Smith ordered the website to be shut down, writing that:
 

[The terrorist safehaven remark is] slanderous, blatantly untrue, and can be construed to endanger the health, safety and welfare of members of the Rensselaer community.


Ken Girardin, co-chairman of the College Republicans, said:
 

[School officials] were looking at the term from the strictest interpretation. And we were looking at it with the loosest interpretation.


Ironically, the website shut down was the official RPI College Republican page. The terrorist safehaven comment resided on a separate blog not controlled by the school. 


Comments

http://boards.1up.com/zd/board/message?board.id=games&thread.id=637150

Thats a link to an article about this as well. Posted in the forum. Heres the part I found interesting.

"Bilal's "art game" further modified the latter title, placing the player in the role of a character who must convince an Iraqi civilian (whose image was deliberately designed to look like Bilal himself) to go assassinate the president by blowing themselves up in a suicide bomb attack."

Sounds great yea?

Heres further proof he's an idiot.

"He created the game, he says, in order to "hold up a mirror" to an American society which believes that such a game is perfectly fine when it is an American killing Iraqis, but which finds itself outside of its comfort zone when it's the other way around."

I don't know about you, but the games I play are killing terrorists. Not innocent Iraqis. Unless of course he is saying all Iraqis are terrorists? Or does he consider the terrorists to be innocent?

@Gummy

the games I play are killing terrorists. Not innocent Iraqis. Unless of course he is saying all Iraqis are terrorists? Or does he consider the terrorists to be innocent?

Specifically, Quest for Saddam (which Night of Bush Hunting is, only with different textures), portrays negative stereotypes. Camel-Cola, shouting Huminumanuma, etc. The general theme seemed to be "Kill Saddam, oh yeah, and arabs look and talk funny!"

And to note, many Americans still get pissy when it's US troops being shot at in game, no matter how they are portrayed (just as targets, or as genuine "opponents")

@Jabrwock

I have never even seen or played the game quest for saddam. And thats just one game, he makes it sound like this is a big problem or something. Point being he is grasping at straws. I just checked the download stats of the game at download.com

Only 4,087 downloads. I doubt its much higher any place else. It's a stupid game and he is using it as an excuse.

@ Grendel

"As much as I would like to laugh at the College republicans getting hit with the same thing they did to Bilal, I can’t support this anymore than the removel of the exibit. It was wrong when Bilal has his right to free speech stifled and it’s just as wrong not that it’s happening to the College republicans. "

On the one hand, yes they too should have the freedom of speech. On the other hand, what they spewed was slander and that is a crime. However, since the slander was not committed on the very same web page that was pulled down, it seems like this was another bad move for RPI.

@Gummy
How do you know those people you're killing are terrorists? Did they have a trial? Are they all wearing uniforms that say terrorist? Or do you just have a nose for "ornery folk what needs killin'?"

Let's put this in perspective:

Firstly, the college Republicans lobbied to get the exhibit shut down - i.e. they tried to limit someone else's freedom of speech. They succeeded. In my view what they did was wrong. The school bowed to pressure, and although they had the right to refuse to show Wafaa Bilal’s exhibit, they had originally given him permission, so what they did, while not technically wrong (the school has no responsibility to show anyone's art if they don't want to), was not fair.

Secondly, as I understand it the school shut down a website owned by... THE SCHOOL! It was a website that the Republicans were using, but it was not 'their' website. The school can shut down that website at any time without giving any reason because they own it. It's not like the school is doing anything wrong here.

So what was done to Wafaa Bilal was unfair. What was done to the college Republicans is completely fair, as well as being karmic, ironic and a whole lot satisfying.

@Gummy

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. It's just a matter of perspective. If a US bomb lands on an Iraqi house, do you really think the families of the victims don't regard that as a terrorist act? When one of their family then decides to fight the 'terrorists' don't you think that they'll regard that guy as a hero and a freedom fighter? If you can't see it from that perspective, well you're part of the very same problem that Wafaa Bilal was trying to address.

@Vinzent

Go back and read your self help/psychology books.

Nice to see censorship coming back to bite them in the butt, at least a little bit. May not be right in either case, but I can still take a little joy from the irony.

@gummy
Well mathematics originated in the middle east, many forms of construction, most religions (granted thats not a good thing in my opinion but people like it). There's quite a lot really.

Generalisations about any group is a bad thing, doesn't matter what the grouping element is. It's why so many people are offended that jack thompson assumes all game players are drug addled idiots or how many people assume that because someone identifies themselves as conservative or liberal that they're automatically in 100% support of all the viewpoints of said party.

If you say that all muslims are terrorists then you're as racist and stupid as all the people who say that black people should still be slaves, all asians are good at math or all white people are inbred retarded redneck hillbilly dicks like you.

If you say it that is...

(I'd have put a "figuratively speaking" joke in but I think that's long past its prime now)

@gummy

(paraphrasing) "And thats just one game, he makes it sound like this is a big problem or something."

You know, because Arabs aren't the "generic bad guy" in most media, it's just that game, right? They aren't the defacto evildoers now that we don't have the Russians or Germans to pick on anymore. Nah, Muslims aren't EVER portrayed in a bad light across, well, pretty much all media. And if they are, it must be THEIR fault, can't possibly be influenced by US interference through the CIA in Arab countries over the past 50 years (I'm looking at YOU Shah!) Must be because of all the wars Arabs start. The good old west has NEVER sent militaries into the middle east to conquer it or, say "liberate the holy lands", nope, it was always because they attacked us first!

Sheesh, the sarcasm is giving me a headache.

@Jabrwock

How do they portray the jews?.....hmm? I believe they teach that it's ok to kill the Jews because there not human, there apes. Thanks for your input though.

@Gummy

Hate monger or racist, no profoundly ignortant of historical context, yup. Here's the problem just saying "the hijackers were all crazies who were horrible people" ignores the fact that alot of middle eastern countries (Iran probably most of all) have legitamite girevance with U.S policy. Does that mean they get to fly planes into building? No that's stupid, but understanding why some people felt that was worthwhile is useful information.

Here's the issue, unless steps are taken to come to terms with the fact that the U.S has a horrible image in a fair part of the Middle east attacks will continue. I'm not excusing the actions of terrorism, but the best way to combat it is to remove the root causes, like poverty, anger at meedling in their affairs, and some of the pointless rhetoric being spouted. We can kill all the terrorists we want, unless we address why people become terrorist as well were all screwed.

Anybody want to bet Gummy will take what I just said horrifically out of context?

@ Gummy

Which arabs exactly? You do realize that there not some monlithic hive mind that all shares one view, right? Individuals tend to differ on things even if they come from the same cultural context. That is not to say that some eladers and some groups have called for the destruction of the jews, but it's rather foolish to say that every Arab everywhere shares that view. Hell one of my college buddies is Iranian and he's dating a jewish girl currently, I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to destroy her.

We are the arabs, you will be assimilated, resistance is futile...

I find it rather amusing the college republicans got their site shut down, after displaying an immature attitude to the situation (in refrence to the comments displayed on their site). As I get the impression, that this exhibit would have been rather indepth, educational, and most of all, facinating display of knowledge. No surprise to see college republicans display their impatience to other view points, and comprise on sensitive issues.

I believe, all this attention will back fire on the college republicans as more people will become just plain curious at what all the attention is, and look at the exhibit. An may come to see those individuals in dire need of a liberal education (chackle).

Right, is this RPI's default position? To shut everything they don't like down? Two wrongs don't make it right do they? :/

Gift.

AH! Ok, ok, I found it.

Here's the deal with the "blog" post:

http://rpicollegerepublicans.blogspot.com/2008/02/rpi-arts-department-te...

Note the LINK itself says "terrorist safehaven.

But it's not actually IN the article.

Here is their main page.

http://rpicollegerepublicans.blogspot.com/

...

I love the smell of burning Republicans in the morning.
...
Figuratively speaking of course.
....
Never mind.

:: Wanders off. ::

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



So, if I'm understanding the screenshot correctly ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/zulma/2323052674/ ), the incriminating page/blog entry, while being hosted on Blogger, was in fact directly displayed on the CR front page. While technically it's not being hosted on-site, could you imagine the uproar if the NY Times had a frame linking to the KKK front page on their front page? Trying to exploit a technical loophole, while clever, is also kind of asking for it.

Also, someone needs to edit a post and close an italics tag.

This just gets more and more ridiculous...

The college had every right to do what it has done throughout this controversy, but this last one shows that it isn't much of a technical college... and that is the main reason to not go there... well that and the censoring city it is in...

@ gummy

Why does Vincent need psycology and self helpp books, I'm fairly certian he doesn't need them, when you on the other hand greatly need a history book.

All the wars they caused?! Apprently you know NOTHING about history. For what 200 years the Christians waged an unceasing war to "Reclaim teh holy land!"

Granted they proformed a "jihad" But that was mostly after we pissed the arabs off with 50 years of non-stop war. Oh lets not forget modern medican can trace it's roots back to the middle east around time time of the crusades.ANd yep thats right when the world trade centers attacked EVERY muslim went balistic throwing grand parties! Well except for those that care about human lives.

And yeah the US NEVER did a thing wrong to the middle east, wellexcept when we back "freedom fighters" to over throw a dictatorship in Iran that wasn't US friendly. Remember the group that took the US embassy in Beirut? Well Hamas was that US backed terrorist group err "freedom fighter assossation.
I'm fairly certian though they were fairly upset when the US agreed not to support the formation of Isreal (gentlemens agreement betwee Roosevelt and the Shiek of Saudi Arabia, [might have been Eisenhower who made the agreement])
They might have been unhappy with us when we stop the Soviets from invading Afganistan, and after large portions of the country destoyed the US pulled out all military and civilian personal who were SUPPOSE to help rebuild after an agreement with those "freedom fighters."

Yep the US never royaly screws up. That's only France, and Germany. (duely note the sarcasim of the last line.)

@gummy

"How do they portray the jews?…..hmm? I believe they teach that it’s ok to kill the Jews because there not human, there apes. Thanks for your input though."

Oh please, don't even go the infantile "well they do it too!" route. Grow up. That kind of behavior wouldn't excuse a 5 year old, why should you get to use it?
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Dear Gummy,

Google "Indo-European."

Huh. Turns out most of our European languages (German, Latin, Greek Spanish) share a connection with some Asian languages (sanskrit, hindi, urdu) originated out of a single language family out of..

...Iran.

Oops.
Guess we're all terrorists.

Does that mean single minded prejudice originated there too?

@ Aliasalpha

Nah, came out of [insert horrid pun of Nationalism here]! .... I'll shut up now.

@ shady8x:

"The college had every right to do what it has done throughout this controversy, but this last one shows that it isn’t much of a technical college…"

...How do you figure that?

@ most of the other people in the thread

There isn't really a single legitimate reason to dignify gummy with any responses. I think you all realize that, so let's put it into effect, please.

Lumi,
Shady does make a good point. If it were such a technically knowledgeable school, then the college administrators, certainly the web administrators, would have know that the website they ordered taken down and the blog were not one and the same.

The only thing is that it appears that the website which was taken down was doing more than LINKING to the blog, but showing the actual image of the blog.

If they had just linked to the blog, I have to wonder if the removal would still have been valid. Of course, since the link ITSELF stated the claim, then having the link on their web page might be sufficient to claim slander and such on the college's own servers.

The college, like it or not, does have the Right to allow or disallow any particular material on their servers.

So, I suppose, Shady is both right and wrong. Since the blog was imaged/linked on a page on the college's servers, and the college web administrator knew this, then maybe they understood better than initially thought.

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 our soldiers, who paid with their lives so the people in other countires can enjoy the freedom we are having here in USA learn that our very freedom is begin take away by our own government aho's with a agenda.

How would they feel??

Well I m just thinking that if an RPI had a Link to the KKK, neo-Nazi, or etc, they will more than likely take down the page and tell them to remove the links. After all they do not want to be associated with such groups. If you can justify Un-inviting Bilal then cant they shut down a website that uses their resources for what ever reason?.

@ Nightwing:

"Since the blog was imaged/linked on a page on the college’s servers, and the college web administrator knew this, then maybe they understood better than initially thought."

I can pretty much guarantee you they knew exactly what was on the page, links, content, images and all. This is not the first or second time RPI has dealt with this sort of thing (college clubs with "questionable content" available on or through their official pages). See the previous snafu with the RIAA over the Phynd and Celery engines a few years ago.

They may be a lot of things, but they're definitely not clueless about tech.

Someone get a laughing Nelson Muntz image for this, oy. You ALL know what I mean.

@Ebonheart

"All the wars they caused?! Apprently you know NOTHING about history. For what 200 years the Christians waged an unceasing war to “Reclaim teh holy land!”"

Speaking of historical ignorance... Regardless of the excesses of the Crusades (and I'm not justifying those, there's plenty of blame to go around on both sides of THAT historical nightmare), the fact is that they began as a pretty justified reaction to a hostile religious faith that for several hundred years had made significant conquests throughout Asia and was encroaching on Europe (they had already conquered most of Spain and were pushing hard into Southeast Europe). A large group of Christians pushing back against Islam and saying "no thanks, we'd rather be Christian in our own lands" sounds like a justification for war to me. The later Crusades to redeem the Holy Land began as a result of the Muslim reaction to the earlier Crusades when they began cutting off Christian access to Christian holy sites in the region.

It's a lot of bloodshed over a nonexistent God, true, but if you get caught up in "they did it first!" You find that there's ALWAYS an excuse to go to war. One of Osama bin-Laden's justification for his war against the West was "The tragedy of al-Andalus" or the Christian Reconquista of Spain by, you, the Spanish. It also puts into perspective the rest of your "We should understand them!" statements. If they're justified in hating us for what we did to them, why aren't we justified in hating them for what they did to us? Are we better than them (and isn't that racist)? Either both of us are morally responsible for our actions or none of us are. To claim that Muslim terrorism is solely a response to Western political misdeeds is a subtle form of bigotry -- as if they're only capable of reacting to what we do and not formulating their own opinions and ideology and acting out of their own sense of morality.

The other thing I find fascinating is how people looking to "understand" the problems in the Middle East refuse to extend the same courtesy to Islamic fundamentalists they do to Christian fundamentalists in America. No one ever seems to doubt that the actions of Christian fundamentalists are wholly inspired by their belief in God and their God's message. Yet despite the fact that Islamists have been screaming the religious motivations for their actions at us for years, Western apologists continually justify their murderous hatred as a reaction to politics or poverty (despite the fact that most terrorists are middle-class -- bin-Laden was rich, his number 2 was a doctor) or "colonialism" or "imperialism" or whatever "ism" the US is guilty of today. They have said again and again that we are "Dar-al-Harb", the House of War, they are of Dar-al-Islaam, the House of Peace or Submission. We must convert or die. Why can't we take them at their word the way we would a Christian zealot?

And, of course, everything always comes down to Israel. The only racist state in the Middle East where Arabs serve as elected members of the government. I wonder how many Jews there are in the governments of any other country in that region?
 
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