First a harmless rock show poster is ripped down by policeman, then what?
From a press release distributed in October 1999 by members of the Minneapolis-based band Vinnie and the Stardüsters.
As every liberty-loving citizen in this glorious land knows, our democracy is based on freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment of that resplendent document, the Constitution, written by the wise (yet wigged) founders of the United States of America.
Alas, a dark cloud looms over our beautiful country as a shadow of tyranny threatens to gag our citizens. Well-armed Minneapolis policemen have threatened a St. Paul music venue with a stiff fine of $200 because Vinnie & the Stardüsters stapled a poster to a Minneapolis telephone pole. (The St. Paul Police Department hasn’t said whether it will protect the band from an invasion by Minneapolis police.)
While censorship is common in troubled areas like East Timor, North Korea, and Minneapolis, that still does not make it right. First a harmless poster for a little rock show is ripped down by policemen, then what? Flak-jacketed militias raiding a quilting bee? Let us not go down this slippery slope to certain despotism, but let us stand united behind the Stardüsters!
Should we have penalized the signers of the Declaration of Independence for posting their fair document? And what of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the doors of the castle church in Wittenberg? Are we to presume that our elected officials have taken cues from the Spanish Inquisition?
And what of art? Would our police department rip down cute garage sale flyers? Would our city council deprive the Russian Constructivists of their bold red posters extolling the virtues of Joseph Stalin? Would our mayor censor Marinetti’s futurist placards that proclaimed “We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene”? I think not.
Yet the Stardüsters are restrained from stapling a poster—a mere gentle “Come hither!” to loyal fans for an evening of fun, laughter, and perhaps nudity—to a telephone pole. Is this a systematic rounding up of musicians to squelch their fair yodels? Should punk rock stay underground for fear of retribution?
Just as Paul Revere rode the streets of our young country warning of impending tyranny (surely breaking noise ordinances), and not unlike the raucous ringing of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia (disturbing the peace), the Stardüsters are spreading the word of their power-rumba parody around the city!
Let us embrace the Twin Cities’ worldwide musical reputation rather than rooting out musicians simply to treat them like common criminals for public humiliation! (Unless, of course, that’s their shtick.)