So now the ATHF story gets weirder...they've arrested "an artist" supposedly for putting up the ATHF displays...I just heard Anderson Cooper announce that...he said "an artist has been arrested" or words to that effect. That's the headline of the story I linked to: "Artist arrested for planting marketing figures" (is that really "planting" something--isn't that kind of a loaded word?).
Not something you like to hear in the U.S., especially considering that these displays were harmless. I don't know if they violated city ordinances or what have you, but even if they do, I would imagine that such things normally involve the writing of tickets or the levying of fines, not ARREST!
This sounds like they're sending a message to the Freeway Blogger and like-minded individuals.
But back to the harmlessness of this act--this was a legitimate ad campaign for a legal product. The advertisers cannot be held responsible for people's perceptions of their ads, particularly when their ads (at least the one picture I've seen of one) don't have words, they don't depict anything that actually even exists. People are freaking out about ART and they shut down a city and arrested an artist because of it.
It's like the situation that Sam Seder talked about on his show recently with a kid who was thrown out of class for a "Buck Fush" T-shirt. Seder's argument was that there is nothing wrong with the words "Buck Fush." And he's right--the kid can't be responsible for other people's interpretations of completely innocent words. It doesn't say "Fuck Bush," it says "Buck Fush."
What kind of country will it be when you can be arrested or cited or fined because someone interpreted your words as something other than what you said? Because that's the principle that's at stake here.