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article imageBigfoot in Free-Speech Tussle with NH Parks & Rec

By Martin Laine     Jan 7, 2010 in Entertainment
It all started as a joke one afternoon last fall. Jonathan C. Doyle of Keene, NH, thought it would be funny to dress up as the legendary Bigfoot, scare a few hikers on nearby Mount Monadnock, then interview them for a YouTube video.
Doyle, an artist and a videographer, was so pleased with the result that a few weeks later he decided to develop it in to a piece of performance art, with a group of friends singing and dancing while hiking up the mountain in various costumes, including Bigfoot.
The performance ended abruptly about halfway up when an unidentified park ranger told them they needed to stop and leave the park because they didn’t have a permit to perform there.
“If we had sensed that we were creating a real disturbance I think we would have changed our ways,” Doyle said in an interview with the Keene Sentinel. State law requires a permit for any event that goes beyond ordinary recreational activity. Doyle feels the action violated his rights of free speech.
Now the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, has taken up his cause.
In a letter to the state agency last month, foundation attorney Barbara Keshen calls the permit rule vague, and gives the park director “unchecked discretion.”
“The permit requirement is unconstitutionally broad on its face,” the letter said.
Doyle has not yet received a reply. An agency spokesperson said the letter has been forwarded to the state attorney general’s office.
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