Saturday, July 31, 2010
Amtrak arrests one of their contestants
From the NY Times:
One afternoon, Duane P. Kerzic was arrested by the Amtrak police while taking pictures of a train pulling into Pennsylvania Station. At first, the police asked him to delete the images from his camera, but he refused. He ended up handcuffed to the wall of a holding cell while an officer wrote a ticket for trespassing.
Mr. Kerzic, a semiprofessional photographer, proceeded to describe his detention on his Web site and included images of the summons. He also hired a lawyer to sue.
In due course, Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” arrived to sound the gong. He turned the Kerzic story into a segment called “Nailed ’Em.” It mocked Amtrak without mercy.
“Finally,” Mr. Colbert reported, “Kerzic cracked and revealed the reason he was taking his terrifying photos.”
Mr. Kerzic appeared on the screen.
“The reason I was taking photos of trains is that every year Amtrak has a contest; it’s called ‘Picture Our Train,’ ” he explained.
Soon after the show was broadcast, a strange thing happened. The section of Mr. Kerzic’s Web site that dealt with Amtrak all but vanished. His lawsuit was settled, and as a condition of the deal, he had to remove his writings about the episode. Now his page on Amtrak — at duanek.name/Amtrak/ — contains two words: “No Comment!”
Mr. Kerzic and his lawyer, Gerald Cohen, both said they couldn’t talk about what had become of the Web pages describing the arrest and his commentary about it. Carlos Miller, a photographer and blogger who followed the case, reported that Mr. Kerzic received a “five-figure” settlement.
But how could Amtrak — the national railroad, whose preferred stock is owned by the American public and whose chief executive and board of directors are appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress — require that a Web site criticizing the railroad be shut down as a condition of settling a lawsuit for wrongful arrest?
What qualifications does Amtrak have to function as a censor?