Republican Leads Protest as Game-Art Exhibit is Expelled From RPI

March 11, 2008 -

The fallout continues at New York's Rensselaer Polytechnical University (RPI) following last week's cancellation of a controversial video game art exhibit by Iraqi citizen and Art Institute of Chicago professor Wafaa Bilal. 

As reported by the Albany Times-Union, the exhibition, suspended last week while school officials conducted a review, has now been officially expelled from campus. The head of RPI's Art Department has been ordered to have the exhibit hauled away by day's end. Of the decision, RPI VP William Walker said via press release:

As stewards of a private university, we have the right and, indeed, the responsibility to ensure that university resources are used in ways that are in the overall best interests of the institution.

Bilal's exhibit was moved to the off-campus Sanctuary for Independent Media where protesters, led by Robert Mirch (left), Republican majority leader of the Rensselaer County Legislature, expressed their disapproval. Mirch told the Times-Union:

We're upset about the video game. He can show it. I don't have to approve it...

This Mirch quote appears on a separate Times-Union blog:

The Sanctuary for Independent Media should cancel this exhibit immediately. Allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a president to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive. I support free speech, but this exhibit goes beyond the bounds of what is decent or acceptable.

A counter-protest, organized in support of Bilal, was also present at the exhibit's new location.  



He doesn't know you personally and cannot predict what your reaction to something may be. You could have stated your views without resorting to insults.

As to the article itself, I'm also miffed about it, and I do not believe that the artist should be jailed "just to be safe." By some of the logic I see the maker of Super Columbine Massacre RPG should be jailed for "threatening" to have Columbine happen again.

Or that kid who made a map of his school for Counter Strike should have been jailed straight away for "threatening" to shoot up his school


Its funny how most people who claim to be as "patriotic" as you do seem to be nothing but arrogant, hatefilled pricks. You're very similar to Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter in that way.


So its ok to have games that portray assassinates other leaders if we are at war with them. Last time I check, we were not at war with North Korea, or China.

Ok I declare war on Incompetence and Ignorance. Mission 1: Kill all people that latch on to sensationalist news.

Well I guess you have no experience in media history. So something was different last season of 24, good job, you got one example. Then how did they portray the middle east before in previous seasons? Huh? Thats like saying I saved a child after murdering the whole village. Compared to all the media history of how America has portray Middle Easterns you have a few examples here and there. Great job at cherry picking your facts.

As for Patriotism

"Patriotism, a blinds man reasoning to fight for something because the whole said its the right thing to do. The patriotic make great soldiers for they do not think for themselves, they have others do the think for them, they just do." ~unknown

Well gummy you came on here, so why dont you go away and go pollute someone elses mind. He is acting like the people in the story. "I dont mind freedom of speech as long as it conforms to my ideals and beliefs." He didnt have to come on this site and read what people have wrote, He choose to come on this site, and now he telling people to go away. The funny part is if his comment gets deleted he would cry Censorship.

The reason Americans have the right to bear is arms is because its their right/duty to stand up against the goverment and demand a new one.

I'm, pretty sure that standing up against the goverment with a firearm might involve shooting the president.

So its its un-patriotic to NOT have media protraying the American citizens exercising their rights (by assasinating a president)

@ F**ked Up

Well said. By his own logic Barack Obama should be banned from running for president because his middle name is Hussain, so he might be a terrorist according to republicans like Steven King of Iowa.


Besides, SAYING something about shooting the president still is speech. It's actions, not words that would get one in hot water.


yea, he does not know me so he should shut his mouth and not make stuff up. Plain and simple. Also, I never said he should go to jail, I said if someone made a game about shooting up a school, and then had someone like the principle in the game. They might go to jail, and that they should. I never said this guy should go to jail. I said what he was doing was not free speech, but a threat. There's a difference. In other words, the mod should not be put on display and be called "Art". Thats all I'm saying.

@Rukon Zappa

I thought I said to get a way from me, stop talking to me, I don't care what you have to say.

@ Rukon Zappa

Thank you, finally someone else agrees that Hannity is a biggot. The man blames liberals for America's ills. When in reality its those unwilling to compromise. (FYI I am a republican) Anyways off my soapbox.

@ Gummy

This exibit has ABOSLUTLY NOTHING, to do with killing the Bush. IT'S SOLE PURPOSE IS TO SHOW "Huh what if I let my hate control me?" and to show just how easy it is for people to follow the masses that, has a measurable amount of power, has money, provides shelter and food, to those who are otherwise with out it.

Personally I think it should not be show, but thats exactly why it should be, to change the minds whom are WILLING TO CHANGE. I may not like it but damn the man has the right to show it. I would be willing to change my stance if he was just going "Death to people who don't believe what I do!"

@ Fu**ed Up

MErcanaries didn't have Kin Jong Ill, it had his son, and Kim was killed after he made an attempt to reconcile with South Korea, his son didn't like the idea killed him and sold nukes to terrorist groups. It show Kim Sr. in a positive light while his son in a negative light.

@F**ked Up

I never said we where at war with North Korea. I focused on your point about terrorists, thats all.

As for saying "how did they portray the middle east before in previous seasons?"

If you have to ask, it would seem you did not even watch the show, so you are just making stuff up as well. And if you know about anything that put all middle eastern people in a bad light, please tell me. I must of missed it, I have only watched every season of 24, and most of them twice.

As for the rest of your post, I'm not even going to say anything. Just go back to your dream land, reality does not suit you very well.


My apologies. Still, unless the game specifically said "what will happen soon" I don't see how it's a threat.

Also, Ebonheart did kinda clear it up.

I think we've been pressed with a new question folks:

Gummy: Simple internet tough guy, or does he take Adam Savage's saying I reject your reality and substitute my own just a bit too far?



"Bilal casts himself as a suicide-bomber in the game (left). After learning of the real-life death of his brother in the war, he is recruited by Al Qaeda to join the hunt for Bush. "

Thats all.

I remember being in school and having teachers tell me "You have the right to say anything you want, you just have to remember there are consiquences."


You do comprehend the fact that most war themed games are made of a strong mix of fiction and fact right? You aren't that ignorant are you? Or do you think every facet of every piece of each Call of Duty and Medal of Honor games actually happened?


A "what if" scenario at best.


Einstein once said, "Nationalism is an infantile disease, it is the measles of mankind."

@ gummy

Face value child. Remember in BF2 you can play as "Insurgents" doesn't mean you are one. And he took an Al-Qeuda recruiting tool, cut his picture on the main character, and rewrote a back story. He's trying to, if even over simplified way to show cause and effect.

Simply watch Syriana, pay VERY close attention to the oil workers in the movie. Hell if want read

Ahh didnt know that Ebonheart. I was going off what I read.

But my point is not about that. My point is validating the assassination of foreign leaders. Kim Jong Ill just seems like the next likely target due to the bad blood between the US and North Korea and the reports of N. Korea of having nuclear weapons. Who knows China might be the next, although most unlikely due to the number of factors that Corporations use in China. The people in power do not want to see that war happen.

If we can validate the assassination of a foreign leader then why cant other people validate the assassination of our leader?

There is no way the public would by into the idea Just because he is a foreigner. Something on this scale usually would need political, social, and economical motives on top of that.

I have watched the show. I am a heavy critic on media in analyzing the communicative nature of entertainment. The mass media is a reflection into our society, our culture, or beliefs, values and ideologies.

24 for has done a decent job at portraying more to terrorism than race (maybe be to prevent a backlash). The producers are smart enough to stop one side portrayals. They have been careful to skirt around the issue and try to stay away from using Muslims and instead use the Russians, Mexicans, and business men.

In season 2 it was Muslims and Americans, in season 4 were Muslims from turkey, oh and the outcry that occured when people heard that season 6 main villian was going to be Muslim but ended up codifying it by using context.

But well the best example is in season 4 that called for the disclaimer to be shown. But then ended up codifying it in the end once again.

But then 24 is only one example in millions of others. Look at Back the future and how the Arab terrorist after Doc was shown as bumbling idiot that couldnt get the gun to fire. Or in True Lies where the main villain ends up riding a rocket. These are all examples being codified


What Bilal is showing is the reality of the current situation, not that he is threatening to kill Bush. He is trying to promote discussion, and he absolutely has the right to create this exhibit and see if someone will put it up. Mind you he also has to deal with the consequences of his actions and the fact is he didn't before; he definitely has an FBI file now.

Unless Bilal deliberately called for Bush's assassination then all of this is one great big, what might have happened. Your school example is faulty as well, how many people has fantasized about killing a particularly irritating Boss or Teacher? What you're suggesting is that people should be jailed for their thoughts rather than their actions, and I definitely find that un-American.


In this day and age, everything that is happening all over the word. Its just not right to uphold a mod like this put it on display and call it art. It's about a suicide-bomber recruited by Al Qaeda to join the hunt for Bush. Its wrong, any way you look at it. Now can this person make the mod?, yes. Its free speech, I'm not saying he has no right to make it, he can. But it should not be displayed like the way it was going to, because its about killing our own president. Thats my view on it.

Here's what I find fascinating about this case -- left wingers only seem to get up in arms about this kind of stuff when it's a left-wing opinion being shut down by a right-wing protest. Let the Minutemen come to a college campus to give a speech about immigration and the left will tie itself into knots defending the protestors who heckle the speakers and run up on stage disrupting the event. Let the college administration shut down a Campus Republican "Affirmative Action Bake Sale" and no liberal will utter a word against it. Let Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Ann Coulter or David Horowitz or Jonah Goldberg or Michelle Malkin be invited to speak on campus and watch the "This event should be canceled!" screams echo far and wide. "The Path to 9/11" (a film that Democratic senators tried to shut down by threatening ABC's broadcast license -- a REAL case of censorship) has yet to be released on DVD supposedly because the President of ABC is a supporter of Hillary Clinton and there's not a Democrat in sight yelling about stifling debate.

In each and every case, the right wing opinion is as controversial as the ones expressed by Bilal in his exhibit yet how many lefties will stand up and defend them in the name of "fostering dialogue?" Show of hands?

Thought so. It all depends on whose ox is gored, doesn't it?

For the record, I believe Bilal's exhibit should go on. I believe in dialogue, I believe all opinions should be heard -- especially the ones I vehemently disagree with. I also believe in intellectual honesty. I wonder how many of my liberal compatriots share that belief?


I really, really hope you didn't just defend Ann Coulter.

@ Zappa

At least it wasn't Hannady

@Rukon Zappa

Game. Set. Match.

Of course. Is her right to express her opinion less worthy of defense than Bilal's? The fact that you would ask that only points out there to you, there are some opinions not worthy of protecting. That's some set of principles.

No one's asking you to agree with her or to not use your right to speak to express your opinion about her opinion. I'm asking whether you truly believe in a free exchange of ideas which necessitates defending speech you absolutely abhor. It's easy to defend the rights of people you agree with.

@ David

You got us there. But at times, you have to wonder why people who just use there ability to spread hate and fear purposly. I agree with their right to say things but at times you have to step back and go "Ok thats enough sit down and shut up"

"They are absolutely right that the university doesn’t have to show this exhibit, or any exhibit. However, they were willing to do so until these narrow minded people got involved.
Therefore its not a case of the Universities right to show or not show an exhibit of any subject, they HAD CHOSEN to show it. Its now become censorship and thats shocking in such a setting."

It is their choice to show or not show it. How is it censorship if the same people that decided to show it, have now decided to not show it???
You are being ridiculous...

Those people that got vocal didn't censor it, the university did, as is its was worried about its money flow and they protected the university as they were supposed to...

By you logic: If I want to host a poetry reading in my house but then say I don't want you to use my house go to the house next door, HOW THE HELL IS THAT CENSORSHIP???? If its my house I have the right to do what I want. The next thing you are gonna tell me is that unless that reading is being held at every house, all those house owners are censoring that poetry... That is your logic here and it isn't very logical...


I have discussions on a regular basis with a diehard republican who also happens to be a creationist and bible-literalist. He's entitled to his view of things. I'm not however going to defend hatemongering by someone like Ann Coulter. I DO however defend the right to throw her own tactics against her, despite her then crying persecution over it while taking no form of personal responsibility. And it goes to both sides of the political spectrum.

Then again, you did defend her while crying about everything democrats do as wrong, so I have a pretty good idea where you stand on things.

@ David

Honestly I think your right, what tend to happen is people are all for free speach when it's the side they support, but if it's someone they disagree with then all that goes out the window.

I remember something on of my proffesors said "your either for free speach, or your not".

Gee, the new exhibit has been shut down too! Following a protest led by PUBLIC WORKS COMMISSIONER BOB MIRCH, the city building inspectors called the Sanctuary, cited a building violation (their doors didn't meet code), and shut them down.

Yeah, THAT doesn't look suspicious...


This isn't a free speech issue, this is an issue of a college to decide who they invite or un-invite...

IF your point is that colleges should give a platform to everyone who wants to speak at them then what would say if the KKK or neo-nazi requested to speak at some college, should they be allowed to speak even though the college doesn't want them to???

What if a college invites someone without knowing that the person they invited represents those groups? Do they HAVE to host them dispite the college not wanting to???(after they find out that is)

Colleges are private property and everyone has the right to choose who they allow on their property... that is their right and as far as I can see that is the only issue here...

oh by the way in case you are wondering, I think Wafaa Bilal has every right to show his mod in any place that he is welcomed by the owners of said place... or on public property... and the government or any other group has no right to shut him up... but as I keep saying that isn't the issue here...


"Your still looking solely at face value, you can not look at things like that. Ok example Face value of BF2 Insurgent army.

I get stuck playing as them a lot, and just becuase I play as them doesn’t mean I’m in support of terrists"

I never said you where, I never said the guy who made the mod was one either. I agree with what david said. But I see this game as a load of crap, really I do. If the guy went out did research got pictures got claims or what ever he needed. And put something together to get a point across. That's great, I'm all for that. But like I said before, I see this game as a load of crap. It's just a way to act out a killing of a president. Thats how I see it, I could be wrong, but thats what the game says when you read it. Its about killing Bush. Now I must go. Good by.

Bye gummy. When you eventually come back please learn proper spelling and grammar.


Well, that does tell me something, before any of us truly say anything we gotta see the game, and now that's unlikely to happen

@ Jab

Doors not up to code?! That's total bs, thats definatly a cloak and dagger way to shut down the exibit.


No the University already knew what the exibit was and FULLY AGREED, it was only after they agreed to and annouced it that they shut it down.

Now if a member of the KKK or Black Panthers, said "let me speak to them about my groupd and why we hate [insert group/race/political affliation] and why they need to leave" and the University said no before they agreed thats one thing. This is not that case, they agreed after full disclosure.


"Hatemongering?" Isn't that exactly the accusation that the protestors are tthrowing at Bilal? That his speech falls outside the acceptable realm of discourse and therefore should be shut down? Where exactly is the line between controversial speech and "hatemongering?" And why are you the one who gets to draw it?

I don't mean to defend Ann Coulter specifically -- I find her obnoxious, annoying and shockingly ill-informed for someone who's often called on as a commentator on world events, but just consider that your emotional reaction to her just might equal those who protest Bilal -- or the Dixie Chicks for that matter (Whose fans told them, I believe, “Ok thats enough sit down and shut up”)

I don't believe I ever said that everything the Democrats do is wrong. Please try not to stereotype me on the basis of one forum post. I may be a Republican, I may be a liberal disgusted at the intellectual dishonesty of my fellow liberals a la Christopher Hitchens. It doesn't make the question moot. The cases I cited were clearly analagous to the one that has you guys so upset save that the political affiliations of the protestor and protestees were switched. In such cases, what is your reaction (not you as an individual, but much of the left side of the aisle)? How you feel about such cases is a pretty good inidcator of whether you're actually committed to principles like Free Speech or just mouthing them as a partisan bludgeon.

oops I was going to write a response to what you said but than I wrote one aimed at someone else and forgot to remove your name...

sorry, I actually agree with most of what you said...


"should they be allowed to speak even though the college doesn’t want them to??? What if a college invites someone without knowing that the person they invited represents those groups? Do they HAVE to host them dispite the college not wanting to???(after they find out that is)"

What if the college knows WHO they are inviting and WHAT his art show will be about and EXACTLY what it will contain? Are they at least guilty of being spineless if they then, knowing full well the answer to those questions, cancel his show after it starts because some (minority yet vocal) students get all hissy and start temper-tantruming to alumni and the police?

Are these same people not equally guilty of attempted censorship when they then follow the art show to it's new location, and AGAIN call the authorities in order to force it's closure?

@ gummy

Once again face value, He DID NOT CREATE THE GAME. HE instead took the game cut, copy and pasted, to show "what if..." and "why this..." It's just that simple. Every time I see some of your posts I see that No matter what I and others show you, that your mind has closed.

Now I base that off of the fact you said "I never said you were" as I was taking a real world comparrison of what he does and compared it to another game with similear properties. And actully you did say that what they guy was showing was a threat, I'm sure someone will gladly qoute your prevoise entry if you would like.

"No the University already knew what the exibit was and FULLY AGREED, it was only after they agreed to and annouced it that they shut it down."

So what if they changed their mind? They are a business and they were worried about having to fire a lot of teachers and shutting down a bunch of classes just to host an event that they probably did review to closely beforehand...
It is their property and they have the right to invite or un-invite people as much as they want...

"Now if a member of the KKK or Black Panthers, said “let me speak to them about my groupd and why we hate [insert group/race/political affliation] and why they need to leave” and the University said no before they agreed thats one thing. This is not that case, they agreed after full disclosure."

What if they didn't know that a speaker was affiliated with that group before inviting him... and then there was protests and they reviewed the material to be presented more closely and decided to cancel... Is that also censorship cause that seems darn close to what happened here...

I am against censorship, but this isn't a censorship issue this is rights of property owners issue...


I would think the university would find out the background of anyone who may speak on their grounds.

Except that wasn't the case, the man came and said "Here's what I have" and showed all his cards. THe reason he was protested is because of what he was presenting, an Al-Queda recruiting tool, no one looked deeper into the issue. They Heard "terrism" and got up in arms. And no it is a censorship issue, he told them AND showed them what it was the university agreed. They shut it down due to protests. I'm by no meaning saying the univerity is purposly censoring, in my belief they are protecting life and property. I believe the city and those in protest are forcably censoring by using protests and threats.


"What if the college knows WHO they are inviting and WHAT his art show will be about and EXACTLY what it will contain? Are they at least guilty of being spineless if they then, knowing full well the answer to those questions, cancel his show after it starts because some (minority yet vocal) students get all hissy and start temper-tantruming to alumni and the police?"

Spineless, yes.
Money hungry, yes.
Censoring, no.

"Are these same people not equally guilty of attempted censorship when they then follow the art show to it’s new location, and AGAIN call the authorities in order to force it’s closure?"

Did the college officials that decided to un-invite him go to the new location? IF they did and (I pretty sure it wasn't them that went there) then yes it is censorship, the college has no right to un-invite people from other peoples property...

The city shutting it down on the other hand is censorship...
Just read the piece in the timesunion and I now agree that this is NOW a matter of censorship...
The college un-inviting him still isn't though...


I read it as well and I agree -- assuming the facts in that piece are all accurate. This is starting to look like a case of genuine censorship by the town. If so, this should be stopped.

And to throw further fuel on the fire, so should the Berkely city council attempting to strip the free speech rights of the US Marine Corps by trying to drive them out of the Berkeley recruiting center.

That is what I thought as well until I saw one of these college meetings personally...

They almost never do thorough checks, at least at the university I am in...

and it's programs are mostly within top 20 public programs nationwide...
university has like 25,000 students...

so big, good university and it does almost no checks into backgrounds...

Why do I get the feeling that this story might make it to the Colbert Report

Hmm, as I was reading through the comments seems we've all been misunder standing, weall agree the collage isn't censoring out right, but worried about life and property. Unfortuntly ending in censorship, just not doing it purposly, but the city we agree is though.

I agree with you last post 100%

Republican... Democrat... Same thing - they just lie in a different fashion.

@ gummy:
"It’s just a way to act out a killing of a president. Thats how I see it, I could be wrong, but thats what the game says when you read it. Its about killing Bush. Now I must go. Good by."

In essence, all shooting games are about acting out killing someone, or certain people, or people with similar character traits, or aliens, or monsters, or ghosts, or zombies, etc.

What makes a little mod about killing the President different? Is it because it wasn't made by a development studio? Or is there really one specific person in this world whom you can't morally portray in a game?

If it was a mod made by a psychotic teenager with a drug habit, a thirst for guns and a plane ticket to DC, then we'd be singing a different tune. But as it stands - it being made by an artist from Chicago who happens to have been born in Iraq - where is the god-damned issue?

as many people have said, look at the film vantage point. you aren't complaining against that, because no one will listen to you. this is because its entertainment.
the fact that you're attacking an art exhibition, instead of a film that depicts terrorist assinations, strikes me as an amusing reversal of roles.
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