jlassen: When Bears Growl (Or how I become the subject of a Secret Service Investigation)
Someone once said 'If you poke a bear with a stick, expect it to growl'. On April 20th, 2005, I poked a bear with a stick. On Tuesday, June 7th, it growled.
A little background: At the beginning of April, I came across several news stories describing a secret service visit to an art gallery. The gallery was exhibiting a show that had a piece of art featuring a picture of Bush, and a gun. There was some online discussions as to weather investigations like this have a chilling effect on artistic and/or political speech. I felt very strongly that this investigation was silly, as the piece was by a well known and well respected artists. A simple background check ought to have been sufficient. Showing up at the gallery sends a message that this type of art is not acceptable.
In response to this incident, I created a series of collages, entitled %u201CBush and Guns%u201D. I %u201Cremixed%u201D pictures of Bush (from the AP Photo wire) and guns (randomly found on Flckr)%u2026 I posted these new images to Flikr, as a set entitled %u201CBush and Guns%u201D. With each picture, I posted a link back to the original story, with an explanation that the collage series was a commentary on this incident in Chicago. I posted this set to several %u201Canti bush%u201D political groups on Flikr, and received some positive feedback on them. I also urged others to create %u201CBush and guns%u201D artwork, and post it online, as a sort of protest against actions and policies, that, to my mind, have a chilling effect on people%u2019s first amendment rights.
On June 7th, Two Secret Service agents showed up at my place of employment and asked to speak with me. One agent said they wanted to talk about something I posted online. I asked what, he one responded %u201CYou post a lot of stuff online, don%u2019t you?%u201D and then showed me some color printouts of my %u201CBush and Guns%u201D pictures. I was as helpful as possible, and explained to them the about the incident in Chicago, and the context of those pictures.