Thursday, February 01, 2007

Free Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens

So in case you haven't heard, two artists have been arrested for being creative and exercising First Amendment rights, and the mayor of Boston wants to throw the book at them.

A furious Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino vowed yesterday to throw the book at the masterminds behind a guerrilla marketing campaign gone amok that plunged the city into bomb-scare pandemonium and blew nearly $1 million in police overtime and other costs.

As city and state attorneys laid groundwork for criminal charges and lawsuits, cops seized 27-year-old Arlington multimedia artist Peter Berdovsky, who posted film on his Web site boasting that he and friends planted the battery-wired devices, and Sean Stevens, 28, of Charlestown. Both were jailed overnight on charges of placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct.

"This is outrageous activity to get publicity for a failing show," said Menino, referring to the battery-operated light-up ads for the Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," which sparked at least nine bomb scares in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.

Menino promised to sue Turner Broadcasting Co., the Cartoon Network's parent company, and criminally prosecute Berdovsky and anyone else responsible for the devices, and to petition the FCC to pull the network's license.

Attorney General Martha Coakley was put in charge of the case and said the companies behind the promotion would be investigated. She said the felony charge of planting a hoax device could be broad enough to allow prosecution even if the stunt's sponsors did not intend a panic.

Some Guy with a Website (another talented artist) hits the nail on the head:

I have never lived in Boston, and I have never supported a Republican for any elected office. But I would send money to a Republican opponent against Boston Mayor Tom Menino just to get him out of office if he actually dares to do something as cowardly and abusive-of-power as this.

I'm a New Yorker who was working within view of the Twin Towers on 9-11, and I now work within view of the Capitol building. So if anyone has a target on his back, its me. But this sort of security kabuki theatre just drives me nuts.

Overreacting to some artist's stunt doesn't make anyone safer. Like a two-minute hate, it just makes people feel safer, without actually accomplishing anything. If they really wanted to improve homeland security, they could hire additional police, expand the Coast Guard, have more thorough inspection of our ports, and set up better communication between all the various divisions of law enforcement.

They could do something useful. But no - we get streets shut down for half a day while a bomb squad stares at a Mooninite Lite Bright flipping the bird, and insane elected officials who give a billion dollars of free advertising to the media company by making a federal case of a stupid marketing ploy. Brilliant. Maybe next we should shut down the Lebanese restaurant down the block from my apartment. Because that would accomplish just as much in the fight against terrorism.
<-Back to the Main Page