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

I don't know whether to laugh or cry... so, I'll laugh my ass off.

They have multiple videos up on the protest.

I think it is interesting. I wish the journalist doing the interview would hold their feet to the fire.

There is one question that I would ask each one of them "Is alright to have a game depicting the assassinating Saddam?"

I want the journalist to ask question on the facts of the matter before they get to the opinions. Make sure the people know what they are talking about before asking their opinion. By just asking for their opinion there is no basis to how they drew their conclusion besides on speculation that they just heard about it and didnt like it.

It is apparent from the interview that people know nothing about the art besides the selective reports. There is showing their ignorants.

@Ian Cooper



How do you think we felt when planes flew into the twin towers? How the hell did you think we felt, when people jumped out of the windows? How do you think we felt, when they where celebrating in the streets passing out candy?

You sit there, and tell me that I'm part of the problem? That some how I make them feel bad? Because I call them terrorists, I'm "discriminatory" against muslims? That was the point of this mod right?

Anything, any racism, they did to them self through all the wars they caused. And let me tell you something, I am calling them what they are. Terrorists, Rats, scum of the earth. Name one thing these people have created? name one! All they have ever done is destroyed. And anyone that was killed by our Army, is on them. They attacked us, unless your one of those idiots who thinks otherwise.

Now feel free to call me a "hate monger" or a "racist" because of what I said.

Theres your freedom of speech.

While I don't feel any pity for the college republicans, I'm not sure if the college had the right to take the site down. If it is official sponsored by the college then I guess they do have the right. Tricky issue

This honestly doesn't surprise me. Since Shirley Ann Jackson came to the campus there have been numerous times where the Administration has thought it more appropriate to use a heavy-handed approach and to abandon discussion with the parties involved.Their are multiple instances of enacting broad-sweeping changes that directly affect the student body without consultation or discussion.

Understandably they have the ability and the right to shut down a site that is hosted on their servers. We each signed a document explaining our "rights" while using their resources. However, the page involved was one outside of the network and not hosted by RPI itself. There should have been some discourse with the club leaders in my opinion if they found the reference offensive, but shutting down an internal site due to an external one is inappropriate.

HOORAY! Karma Strikes again.

While I disliked the college repubs, this doesn't seem right with the information that's been presented.

Anyone else think they got links confused? Or listened to someone who mis represented the links?

@Ebonheart

Or, *ironically* for a technical college, completely misunderstood where the comments were being stored? ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

sometimes when you dont think things can get any more stupid the human race finds another way to make you regret that a meteor has not hit us yet...

Another person's freedom of expression, is someone else's terroristic threat.

How funny it is to have the tables turned on the bigots at RPI.

"make you regret that a meteor has not hit us yet…"

From what NASA reports say, it sounds like the universe has been trying, frequently, but it's aim sucks. ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@ Jabrwock

Point taken, but do remember humanities stupidity hit rock bottom long ago; and it's still digging.

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

So they were... what? Only "Figuratively Speaking"?

:: chirp chirp chirp ::

Shut up, I thought it was funny. :P

:)

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

@nightwng2000

Damn you, now where's a cloth to wipe my monitor? Now I need to fetch another cup of coffee... ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I love it when irony mushroom stamps a bunch of jackasses.

@Saladin: What's good for the goose...

what would be the "loosest interpretation" of "terrorist safehaven"?

@ Creature 9

Is good for the Gander....

I am split between 'ha ha taste of their own medicine!' and 'what they were doing was wrong thus doing it to them is also bad'

When you attack free speech, everyone suffers. First the artist, now his critics. Karma is a female dog.

They're mad because they were expressing themselves, and they got the boot. Yet they felt it perfectly ok to "demand" and "threaten" (financially) the college stop someone else from expressing themselves on campus.

Awesome.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I wonder if there were any explicit links between the outside blog with the quote and the official club site. Otherwise, citing that comment as the reason for shutting down a cite it isn't related to IS sketchy, as much as they might deserve it.

I'd rather they just said, "we find your conduct questionable", especially if they were directly related to the whole extended Bob Mirch affair.

@ cpt crunchie

The loosest form of "Terrorist Safe Haven" would be "Corporate Law Firm"

So now the group that had Bilal's project removed from campus for terrorist threats has now had its website shut down by the same school for slander and terrorist threats. Or am I misreading the deans comment?

Karma is a bee-otch. One one hand, I think they deserve a little taste of their own medicine. On the other, they are now having their own Free Speech rights stifled and I can't let that be.

So here's what needs to happen. The College Republicans need to apologize for attacking and preventing Bilal's exhibit. RPI needs to put the web page back up.

Despite my own personal opinion of the College Republicans being a club for spoiled little pricks with rich parents, they still don't deserve to be censored. Two wrongs does not a right make.

I love the smell of justice in the afternoon. It smells of shattered dreams and ruined careers.

Gotta love it.

@lumi

They used frames or something to show the blog in question through their on-campus page. I can't for the life of me find the original blog (found it last night), but someone snapped a pic:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zulma/2323052674/
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@Gameboy

Agreed. Karma may be a cruel mistress, but it still doesn't make RPI's actions in EITHER case right. RPI admin should really be ashamed of themselves right now.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

"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. "
Thats the problem I have with the school shutting down their page. It was not made on the school run site, it was done on another site. This to me is a case of the school school stifling their right to free speech by trying to control comments made in a place where the school has no authority. If the comment was made on a school site then I would understand, but it was not so although the name calling was distasteful, the school should not be punishing them for it.

@ Jabrwock

So that means I'm not allowed to hate David Uwe? (that his last name?) or seek a ban of him making any more REALLY REALLY bad movies?

You know what's REALLY ironic? RPI is trying to prove it's software can pass the Turning test. Hopefully they didn't use the admin staff to do the testing. ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@Ebonheart

Hate him? That's allowed. :D Seeking a ban. Nope. Not forking up the $10 to watch his movie? Absolutely. Telling a theatre they can't show the film because you hate him? Negatory. Calling the local building inspectors in to measure the doors because the theatre didn't listen? Oooo, now you're in trouble. :p
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@ Jabrwock

I still don't think he has the right to produce really really bad movies that use the "unlimited ammo" cheat.

The loosest form of “Terrorist Safe Haven” would be freedom.

The chief by-product of the American university system for at least the past 20 years has been politcally correct thought and speech control in the guise of higher education. Opposing opinions are unwelcome and often punished (if the university thinks it can get away with it).

@ Garrett

I still think it's "Corporate Law Firm"

I think this just shows that the people running that school are extremely insecure, weren't hugged enough as children, and can't take criticism very well.

While the statement is very different from Mr. Bilal's exhibit in that one is fiery rhetoric crafted to manipulate people's fears, and the other is an art piece meant to show the impacts of US foreign policy, the same basic principle applies: Are they tasteful? Maybe not, but do they deserve to be suppressed?

I'm crossed between, "even bigots have rights and RPI should not shut down their website" and "HA, Bigots got a taste of their own medicine"

oops should have posted the last comment in the other story.

What do they say? Turn about is fair game?

It is funny that I had feeling that if they got a taste of their own medicine they would cry censorship.

That's the thing the modern neocons do not understand. Freedom applies to everyone, not just the people they agree with. Everyone has freedom of speech, even people who say things that you find disgusting and vile. Everyone has freedom of religion, even those who follow radically different beliefs. If you condone censoring anyone, even those you hate, eventually that precedent can be used to censor you. Giving up any of our liberties is a slippery slope, and any who would give up liberty for security will lose both and deserve neither.

I am outraged!

These people where bringing light to a serious issue, that the school is a terrorist safe haven, and that the people there are "republaphobic". I demand that the whole quote be shown and then it would be considered Poetry. We then should turn it into a mod ware there are terrorists at the school, and you have to stop them. This will bring further light to the issue.

Ok, really now. I don't think making a mod about killing the president is on par with this but hey, what do I know? I think it was sort of strange for them to call it what they did. I mean they did stop the mod from being displayed and then the kid was banned from school or something right? Does not seem like to much of a terrorist safe haven.

But they shutdown the whole site because one guy made a comment on a blog? That seems...stupid. Thats like shutting down the whole art (word escapes me) thing just because of that mod.....

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

Sounds more like a case of "It's okay if we say it but it's not okay at all if they say it."

Oy, narrow-minded thinking.

@ gummy:

Read the article. It wasn't a student, it was an artist from the Institute of Chicago who was invited to show his exhibit (I think that's the word you were looking for at the end there) at RPI. There was full disclosure; they knew the topic and content of the presentation beforehand, and okayed it.

Then the CRs found out and raised a stink because it was "un-American" and, accused the art department of being a "terrorist safe haven" for allowing Bilal to present on campus. As a result of this, and letters (including threats to withdraw funding) from other republican alumni, RPI suspended the exhibit indefinitely; essentially, they shut him down and told him to GTFO.

Now, they've shut down the CRs' website because of it's connection to another blog that had the "terrorist safe haven" quote posted. Which could be pretty sketchy, depending upon how tenuous the link is between their official page and the blog that had the quote posted. Since their page is down now, it's hard to verify, unfortunately.

When it happens to someone else, its ok.

But when it happens to me, its not.

Double standard?

I wonder if they are crying Censorship now.

Hmm terrorist safe heaven hmm I wonder if other people were to blow it out of proportion.

"RPI is a terrorist safe heaven, there students are promoting propagandist material. Anyone and everyone that is Associated with RPI should be shot. They are un-American. Even there own Young Republicans are calling themselves terrorist. They are funding the terrorist as well. I want them to be shut down. I dont care what their defense is. They are un-American and for that they should be killed."

For handing out stupid, unnecessary, wrong-minded punishments for minor infractions I bite my thumb at thee.
For over-reacting to a very minor situation with the aforementioned draconian punishments (both the republicans and the art exhibit), I wave my fist at thee.
For going about a serious issue so blindly that you negatively affect innocent people and ignore the real 'problem' I cringe at the very sight of you.
For responding to criticism not through discourse or counter criticism or even explanation but rather heavy handed censorship I spit in your direction and I wish you bad luck.

You make me sick.

I've noticed a fair amount of "two wrongs don't make a right here", but there isn't a second wrong. RPI has legitimate cause to shut down a student organizations website if it is found to be propagating hate speech, or acting in a manner that does not adhere to the students code of conduct for said school. It is standard practice with student organizations to sign agreements that they will uphold the non-discriminatory action policy laid out by the school (hence the reason you do not see college KKK or college neo-nazi organizations). These fine young folk flat out claimed that the art department is a terrorist safe haven, effectively a libel offense since they have no proof outside of an opinion that can very well become a detriment to the school should the notion get out. Since those who are in an organization are, to a reasonable degree, responsible for the actions of those inside their organizations, there needs to be restraint. They won a battle by getting the display moved off their campus, but they overstepped their bounds by effectively saying that their school tolerated terrorism. In a collegiate environment one has to remember that, regardless of what school you are in (engineer, business, arts and letters, etc.) you are still part of University X, and any mark you strike against a school at university X is a strike against the university itself. So, the school reserves the right to squash the organizations website should the conduct of its official be unbecoming or in a manner that is counter-intuitive to the universities policies. Effectively, they can still post all they damn well please on the blog where they did the gloating and slander, but as far as the college is concerned, their conduct ill represents the school, therefore actions were taken. You see 'two wrongs' or censorship, I see some arrogant little shits getting what was coming to them based on an agreement I am certain they made as a recognized student organization. Remeber, don't bite the hand that feeds.

Somebody needs to explain to them that taking down the College Republicans' site for no good reason does not balance out cancelling the exhibit for no good reason.

Both sides of this debate, and most of the idiots commenting on it, are so stupid it makes me heart hurt for this country.

We are so effing doomed.

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.

The mighty sword of karma strikes again. BLAMO!!!
 
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