SSI english   The BLUTGEIL Case    Video-Burning!    Prison for satirical Video!
National Campaign for
Freedom of Expression
October 31, 1996

Oberrichter Dr. Schmid 
Obergericht des Kantons Zürich III 
Strafkammer, Postfach, Ch-8023 

Dear Dr. Schmid: 

On the behalf of the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression (NCFE), an American organization dedicated to defending artistic freedom, I am writing to urge that all charges against Seelenlos and Ärger be dropped immediately. 

Our organization is regularly contacted by artists facing censorship in the United States. NCFE was founded shortly after a museum director in Cincinnati, Ohio was arrested on obscenity charges for sponsoring an exhibit of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1990. Public reaction ran strongly against this act of government censorship. The prosecution of Messrs. Seelenlos and Ärger, the creators of the satirical "Blut Geil" video, represents a similar act of government intrusion into the arena of artistic expression. 

We are astonished and disappointed that the Swiss government continues to prosecute two of its citicens merely for the "crime" of producing a satirical video, and that the filmmakers face potential fines or even jail time as a result. A democracy must allow room for many forms of artistic expression, even those that government officials consider in "bad taste", or that express a viewpoint critical of the government and the police. 

The history of Nazism in Europe and McCarthyism in the U.S. demonstrates the dangers of cultural and political absolutism. We should heed those era's hard-won historical lessons in order to ensure that similar abuses are not repeated. 

The National Campaign for Freedom of Expression urges that all charges in the "Blut Geil" case be dropped immediately, and that all restrictions on the distribution of the video be removed. The continued persecution of Messrs. Seelenlos and Ärger calls into question Switzerland's inernational reputation as a free and open society. 

Thank you for your kind consideration.  

              Sincerely yours,
              David Mendoza 
              Executive Director
cc: American Embassy, Bern 
Joseph Duffrey, Director, U.S. Information Agency 

[same letters also sent to Staatsanwalt Dr. Hohl and Director of Justice Dr. Notter] 

SSI english   The BLUTGEIL Case    Video-Burning!    Prison for satirical Video!