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Watch: Activist Banned for Life from Smithsonian for iPad Protest of Censored Gay David Wojnarowicz Art Piece



A clever, if short-lived, form of protest against censorship.

A demonstrator against the Smithsonian's shameful censorship of the David Wojnarowicz video art piece "A Fire in My Belly" (I wrote about it here) wears the art piece on an iPad around his neck and distributes flyers to visitors telling them about the museum's caving to the Catholic League.

Fireinmybelly As punishment for their protest, the activist wearing the iPad and the activist filming it were banned from the museum for life.

Blake Gopnik writes:

Smithsonian spokeperson Linda St. Thomas says that the banning was entirely the business of the DC police. Smithsonian security officers, she says, have no authority to issue such a ban. She believes the protesters' offence was leafletting, which is banned in Smithsonian buildings, and often becomes an issue when political protests on the Mall spill over into its museums: "It doesn't matteir what the cause is, you just can't bother our visitors that way." 

St. Thomas admits, however, it's not clear that Blasenstein was guilty even of leafletting: "You're not supposed to hand [leaflets] out, but you can walk in carrying them," she says. (The video shot by Iacovone, and now widely available on the Web, seems to confirm that Blasenstein was entirely passive.

Watch the iPad protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Well if that isn't a blatant denial of freedom of expression. Banning for life? God, what a bunch of dickwads.

    Posted by: Smith | Dec 7, 2010 12:37:03 PM

  2. As far as I know, NONE of the Smithsonian buildings check for ID uopn entering, so I'm not sure how a "ban" would work. Facial recognition software? Ants on a cross recognition software?

    Posted by: tom a | Dec 7, 2010 12:43:18 PM

  3. *Clearly* these guys are a threat to America and to its heritage...

    What is this country coming to?

    Posted by: DN | Dec 7, 2010 1:05:26 PM

  4. Dead gay men are just too fucking dangerous.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Dec 7, 2010 1:08:35 PM

  5. Give security an inch and they take a mile. Good luck on those civil liberties you seem to enjoy at the moment.

    Posted by: Will | Dec 7, 2010 1:08:52 PM

  6. A good ACLU style free speech case if they decide to take it. After all, people wear political T-shirts all the time on the Mall and don't get banned for life. A good set of technical legal issues too.

    Posted by: anon | Dec 7, 2010 1:30:13 PM

  7. "This will be on your Permanent Record, young man."

    Posted by: Soren456 | Dec 7, 2010 2:31:16 PM

  8. Banned for life was out of hand, maybe three years, lifetime seems unacceptable.

    Posted by: Matt Munson | Dec 7, 2010 3:08:04 PM

  9. Since when can a police department issue a ban on anything? If anyone's that's the job of a judge, after a trial and conviction. God, I hate what's happening in this country a little more every day.

    Posted by: Buster | Dec 7, 2010 4:38:22 PM

  10. He could have stood on the sidewalk and passed out all the flyers he wanted. Do any of you really want to go into a museum and be hounded by a dozen protesters (including some from the religious right, no doubt) handing out their own propaganda material? Whether he should have a ban for life is debatable, but I'm glad they threw him out.

    Posted by: bierce | Dec 7, 2010 5:27:03 PM

  11. thanks admin exciting blog

    Posted by: film | Dec 7, 2010 5:31:27 PM

  12. First they censor the art as well as the artist, now they're censoring any protest of that censorship. Looks like facism is rearing its ugly head in America. Scary.

    Posted by: Mike | Dec 7, 2010 6:28:59 PM


    Posted by: Perry | Dec 7, 2010 6:56:17 PM

  14. Write a letter to the Smithsonian expressing your outrage against this peaceful protest. The Smitsonian is owned by the American taxpayer, we have every right to do anything, and wear anything, we wish in those museums, as long as it does not disturb or harm others. What a crock.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Dec 7, 2010 7:28:51 PM

  15. i ban myself. so there.

    Posted by: syd barrett | Dec 7, 2010 10:45:57 PM

  16. What a weird video. Smithsonian isn't missing out on much, obviously.

    Posted by: lol | Dec 7, 2010 10:47:46 PM

  17. Yes, they have facial recognition software everywhere. But no, they will not reliably enforce this---another scare tactic for us homos to stay in our place. The National Portrait Gallery should be swarmed by gays, say, tomorrow. Or Saturday.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 7, 2010 11:42:08 PM

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