They may track our every statement and hobble our every move, but the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security ought not be immune to parody, says Dan McCall. The details on his suit to protect his, and our, right to laugh at Leviathan from St. Cloud Times:
A St. Cloud State University graduate and Sauk Rapids resident is suing the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security after they issued cease-and-desist letters against merchandise he was producing through his web-based business.
Dan McCall, who runs LibertyManiacs.com from an office in his home, filed the suit Tuesday in federal court in Baltimore. He says the agencies violated his First Amendment rights, and is being assisted in his suit by Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.-based government watchdog organization.
McCall sells T-shirts, mugs and posters, often with satirical messages.
To ridicule electronic surveillance disclosures, he paired the NSA's official seal on T-shirts for sale with the slogan: "The only part of the government that actually listens."
He also has one with the sub-heading "Spying On You Since 1952," and altered the NSA seal to read "Peeping While You're Sleeping."….
Zazzle, which prints some of McCall's designs on merchandise, received the letters in 2011. Zazzle informed him of the letters in June and the company said it would no longer carry his items with the NSA seal because they infringed on the NSA's intellectual property rights. McCall is now selling those items on on CafePress, an online business similar to Zazzle.
According to Public Citizen, the NSA and DHS threatened Zazzle with litigation or criminal prosecution unless McCall's designs were removed.
Public Citizen claims no reasonable person would believe McCall's graphics were produced by the NSA or DHS. The organization also believes the First Amendment guarantees McCall's right to use the seals to identify the agencies he's criticizing….
The lawsuit asks the court to declare provisions of the National Security Agency Act can't stop McCall from displaying his merchandise and that two other laws are unconstitutional because the violate the First Amendment….
McCall…started selling items that combined art, politics and humor a decade ago and turned it into a full-time job in 2010. As recent as 2011, Libertymaniacs.com was on pace to generate $1 million in sales annually and had three other employees.