Thursday, June 16, 2005

Could this be true?

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I came across this LiveJournal entry today, wonder if it's real or just BS. Here's the jist of it...

...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 "Bush and Guns". I "remixed" pictures of Bush (from the AP Photo wire) and guns (randomly found on Flckr)... I posted these new images to Flikr, as a set entitled "Bush and Guns". 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.

...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 "You post a lot of stuff online, don't you?" and then showed me some color printouts of my "Bush and Guns" pictures. I was as helpful as possible, and explained to them the about the incident in Chicago, and the context of those pictures.

During the course of the interview, the Agent indicated that the pictures came to their attention because someone reported them to the secret service, and that they have to investigate everything.

After speaking to me, they asked to interview my boss. They also asked me to help put them in touch with my wife, who was out of town - They would need to interview her also. They also mentioned the possibility of interviewing members of my family... my mother in particular.

I'll admit it. I was very freaked out. The first thing I did when I got back to my desk was delete the pictures from Flikr...


Okay, well the Secret Service showing up over this is creepy...but what really disturbs me is the fact that somebody actually reported this guy to them.

First off, how exactly do you report something to the Secret Service? Do you call them? Send them an email? Snail mail?

(Dear Secret Service,

There is a guy posting collages of President Bush and guns on the internet, and not in the good way. I think he and his family should be investigated.

Sincerely,
Tom Parsons)


Second, where was this kind of dilligence when a live grenade was thrown at the President in May? We can protect him from stupid pictures but not grenades? Or was the reason the Secret Service visited the collage-making-guy something other than protecting the President?

And back to my original question: Could this story be true?

I think I'm afraid of the answer.

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As an afterthought: I wonder where the line is for what the Secret Service would be willing to investigate. I mean, so they (allegedly) investigated that guy for posting pictures with Bush and guns...but would they investigate someone who er, let's say writes a post on their blog with the words Bush and gun occuring together in several different sentences?

Or maybe that would just get you put on a watch list in case something a little more dangerous was posted later on. Like collages.

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More:

The Secret Service Homepage - Now I've heard the Secret Service compared to the Nazi SS more than a few times while looking up info for this post. Come on people! That's going a little too far don't ya think? Do you know what the SS did? Maybe you should read up on your history. Sick.

'Feds Probe Politically Charged Art Exhibit' - This article says that "The investigation began after authorities received a call from a Chicago resident."

'Secret Service Visits My Campus...'

Here you can see some of the pieces in the exhibit. Hmm.

The Secret Service's Photo Gallery

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