Sunday, July 20, 2008

Free Speech

Yet another example of the chilling effect that the Bush administration has had on free speech.

Wafaa Bilal is exhibiting his videogame, "The Night of Bush Capturing," at the Freedom of Speech exhibition at FLATFILE Galleries in Chicago. In the game, players are sent on a mission to kill President Bush. "This is to raise awareness about the civilian toll in Iraq, and how a lot of them have been forced by the consequences of the invasion to become suicide bombers," Bilal said.

As Instapundit would say, they told me if Bush was elected, artists would feel intimidated in expressing their creative viewpoints.


Of course, this kind of thing is totally different.

Loaves and Fishes, a Minnesota-based community action group, is protesting the display of a combat simulation videogame at the Duluth Air Show. The Virtual Army Experience, used by Army recruiters, demonstrates what life could be like as a soldier. In one scenario, participants transport aid to threatened humanitarian aid workers while using machine guns and a missile launcher to wipe out terrorists who stand in the way.

Michele Naar-Obed, spokesperson for Loaves and Fishes, is outraged that a military-sponsored video game would be featured as an exhibit at an air show. She is quoted as saying, "I’m very upset over this. I think this is just insane that they would use this kind of venue to train our youth to kill people. . . we find it to be unacceptable and inappropriate."

Apparently, she is unaware that it is a military air show; the headline act is the US Navy Blue Angels. Most of the planes there are military planes. The Duluth Air Show is not a bunch of old guys in shorts standing around in a field, comparing Cessna stories.

Lileks has a good summation:

Inappropriate? At an air show? One can understand their anger if the simulation was mandatory, and children were herded into vast rooms, drugged up, forced to ride the Humvee sim then marched into a recruitment office and told they were signing up for a free trip to Disneyland, but that’s not the case. Somehow a sim about saving relief workers by blowing up terrorists is BAD, but a game in which one plays a criminal who drives around town running over pedestrians is okay.

The Army removed the same game at the request of Summerfest officials in Milwaukee.
“We’re determining it’s probably not something that we want to have shown at Summerfest,” John Boler, vice president of sales and marketing, said before the decision was made to request removal of the game.

The game drew criticism from Peace Action Wisconsin, which called it “totally inappropriate and offensive.”

“War games should NOT be presented as entertainment,” the group wrote in a press release. “War is NOT a game. Summerfest is meant to bring people together for a good time in peace, not to present opportunities to practice shooting people.”

No mention is made of whether any other activities (like a Grand Theft Auto demo) or performers at the festival drew the wrath and ire of Peace Action Wisconsin.

But I'm pretty sure they would have welcomed Wafaa Bilal.

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