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‘Buffalo Beast’ editor faces jail time for using dildo at protest

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 14:21 EDT
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Ian Murphy's arrest report, taken from police documents.
 
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Ian Murphy, editor of satirical newspaper “The Buffalo Beast,” is facing up to a year in jail for using a dildo as a prop at a protest against same sex marriage earlier this year, Raw Story has learned.

Murphy was arrested on July 24, 2011 — the first day same sex marriage was legal in New York state — as he was interviewing counter-protesters who were mocking a demonstration by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a conservative lobbying group.

NOM announced plans for the rally as part of a “broad, multi-ethnic, multi-denomination coalition” called “Let The People Vote.” Their site says it’s been paid for by the National Organization for Marriage and accepts donations to NOM — a 501(c)(4), which means donations to it are not tax deductible. It is not registered as a religious organization.

That’s where the dildo came in.

Murphy claims he and a cameraman had a “penis-shaped microphone” that they were calling the “dildophone,” but that they only pulled it out once, while they were standing far away from the large body of NOM protesters. In the police report and deposition, officer Donna Donovan claims Murphy was making “obscene gestures” with the object, and that he called her and a fellow officer “assholes.”

Murphy tells a different story. Speaking to Raw Story this week, he insisted that it was the simple act of pointing a camera at officer Donovan that sparked the incident. He claimed she was twice provoked by the sight of their camera, and that she attempted to “smash the camera away from my face.”

The camera was seized and its footage was erased before his equipment was returned, Murphy said.

At a deposition hearing earlier this month, new charges emerged accusing Murphy of slapping Bibles out of a NOM protester’s hands, and pushing another person. Documents examined by Raw Story show that the only complainant in the initial report is someone simply called “Sony,” which could be a typo — or it could be the brand of camera Murphy was using. The person’s age and sex are both listed as “unknown,” and there is no additional information.

Instead of just harassment or causing a disturbance, Murphy now faces the added penalties of disrupting a religious ceremony. Officer Donovan’s deposition claims that she examined the city’s permit for the religious ceremony, but Murphy insisted that he’s been unable to obtain a copy of it.

Raw Story has filed an information request to determine whether the NOM protest against marriage equality was actually permitted by the City of Buffalo as a religious event. City officials were unavailable to comment.

Between all the charges, Murphy could face up to a year in jail, or at least significant fines and community service.

“It’s a shame that all this is happening and I didn’t even do anything illegal,” he insisted.

Murphy, a practitioner of what many know as “Gonzo journalism,” is the individual responsible for prank calling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) last year and pretending to be billionaire industrialist David Koch, a key financier behind the tea party movement.

Highlights of the call included Walker admitting that he’s “got the layoff notices ready” for public employees and accepting an offer to be flown out to California for “a good time.” Walker also admitted that he’d thought about planting “troublemakers” in the crowd of public union protesters who were laying a very public siege to his administration at the time, as a means of breaking up the protest and locking down the capitol grounds.

Wisconsin Republicans later attempted to criminalize prank calling, insisting that their efforts had nothing to do with Murphy.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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