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Printer rebels at artist's imagery

October 13, 2004|Louise Roug

A printer for Clinton Fein, who once sued then-Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, has refused to produce two images by the political artist for a San Francisco gallery show.

The Palo Alto-based printer, Zazzle, said the images violated company guidelines. One image depicts an American flag -- the stripes are lines of text from the so-called Taguba report, while the stars show a hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner. The other image shows President Bush crucified with a missile between his legs.

"If Gutenberg hadn't printed Martin Luther's Bible, there wouldn't have been a Reformation," said Fein, who found another printer for his show, "Numb and Number," at Toomey Tourell gallery. "We don't need printers deciding what's appropriate content."

Matt Wilsey, director of business development at Zazzle, said company guidelines ban images of excessive violence as well as derogatory references to religion. Fein's flag image "contains the image of torture," while the other image is "offensive to Christians," he said.

Fein created Annoy.com, a provocative political website, protesting the 1997 Communications Decency Act that made it illegal to send Internet communication that is "indecent" or has "intent to annoy." He sued Reno to overturn the act but lost. The statute, however, was redefined: Annoying communication remains protected speech online.

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Louise Roug

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