Mark Boal's article["FBI's Shutter Speed" (Machine Age, November 30) generated an unusual amount of mail. Boal's piece recounted how pressure from the FBI prompted filmmaker Mike Zieper's Internet service provider to drop his Web site after Zieper (under the name "Mike Z.") posted a video about a purported military plot to start a race riot in Times Square on New Year's Eve. When the case became a cause célèbre on the Web in the wake of Boal's article, the FBI dropped its investigation and Zieper's site was put back up. Following are some of the letters received.


My Dad escaped from Nazi Germany just in time. If he were alive today, he would feel right at home reading about what happened to Mike Zieper.

What's the ACLU going to do about this? This isn't yelling "Fire!" in a theater—it's more like gagging all the people so that no one can yell "Fire!" when there is one.

The FBI could have applied for a restraining order. That would have been due process. As it was, they acted as judge, jury, and executioner.

One has to ask, "Why are they worried?"

Albert Krause
Mesquite, Nevada


Regarding Mike Z.'s adventure with the Feds: Why would anybody be surprised that an organization that kept a file on Helen Keller would act like the Gestapo?

Alan Scully
Brewster, Massachusetts


The FBI's convincing Mike Z.'s ISP to pull his site based on its Blair Witch style is akin to the bureau under J. Edgar Hoover pulling the plug on Orson Welles's War of the Worlds broadcast! Why can't the powers that be grasp the concept?

Jane Tate
Honolulu, Hawaii


I read Mark Boal's article with amazement. I'm shocked that in a country that advocates freedom of speech, such an occurrence can take place. I find it appalling that double standards apply to some Western countries that condemn other nations over such issues, yet allow them to occur within their own borders.

Ronald Teo
Sydney, Australia


Thanks for putting out the word on the FBI's intimidation of independent filmmaker Mike Z. and his ISP for displaying a politically incorrect video. I'd like to see you guys run with this one. I'd also like to see the ACLU do something more substantive than wagging their tongues; but I'm not holding my breath.

Chris Fitzmaurice
Nowata, Oklahoma


I found Mark Boal's piece on the FBI harassment of filmmaker Mike Z. for his video about an allegedly military-planned New York race riot very compelling. I suggest you sic a pack of shamelessly self-indulgent investigative reporters and bun-reaming First Amendment rights lawyers on this one as soon as possible.

I am particularly heartened that a liberal paper would print such a story. No one can say you are right-wing extremists.

Give us a glimpse of the ship of state's underbelly, will you? Warts and all. Let's see you start picking scabs.

Bill Brooks
Mankato, Minnesota


Why did the FBI desire to suppress Mike Zieper's Web site? I think you should dig deeper. The press should explore the "why" on such stories. Often, that can point to issues that may be larger than the story itself.

Paul Lukey
Bloomington, Indiana


The creators of the New World Order and their minions cannot tolerate free speech—and they feel especially threatened by the easy access to a "mass media" audience via the Internet. Filmmaker Mike Zieper's experience is unfortunately not unique. Of course the ambiguities of his "performance" work had to baffle their narrow thought process.

A.T. Allegro
Miami, Florida


Blurring the lines between reality and art, fiction and nonfiction, is all well and good, but when such "art" is tantamount to shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, that crosses the line into criminal activity.

Too few people in today's society are willing to take responsibility for the effect that their actions have on others. The FBI was correct in acting, although their methods were questionable. Mike Zieper's "right" to shout fire doesn't hold water when it violates the rights of the many.

Karen Dietz
San Diego, California


Mark Boal's story on Mike Z. was echoed recently here in Israel. A classified document containing the minutes of a Justice Ministry deliberation about whether to indict a TV reporter for allegedly faking a swearing-in ceremony which, it turned out, was led by an agent working for Israel's equivalent of the FBI, the Shabak, was put on the Web. Within a day, the participants' names were blacked out on some sites and others were tampered with. One server in the U.S reportedly was threatened with physical harm if he didn't remove the material.

Yisrael Medad, Director
Israel's Media Watch


What you had to say about Mike Z. and his Web site being shut down is sad but not unusual in this politically correct era. Being a pro-life Christian activist, I see assaults on civil liberties all the time of a similar and even worse magnitudes, and no one gets upset.

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