Not Bigfoot, but a man dressed as the legendary Skunk Ape or Sasquatch was fined in Keene, New Hampshire after he attempted to act out a “performance art” piece near the summit of Mount Monadnock. Unfortunately for the performers, they were fined by park rangers and told to leave the area. The performer, however, was vexed by his close encounter with rangers and now says his freedom of speech has been infringed upon.
Johnathon Doyle may have begun with essentially an elaborate joke, but says there’s nothing funny about the violation of civil liberties he has suffered. The film he was creating was supposed to be a series of mini-hoaxes where the Bigfoot would pop up at the summit of Mount Monadnock and appear to passersby. No less than 80 hikers were suddenly confronted with the very frightening prospect of encountering a Bigfoot in the woods, or at least a convincing enough Bigfoot as a person in a gorilla suit can look like. After a good scare, they were interviewed by a camera crew and the videos were posted to Youtube. As the joke progressed, it became more elaborate. Soon several different characters including a ninja, a green humanoid, and a pirate were added to the mix. That’s about when the department of resources got involved in this pseudo-hoax.
Doyle says though the issue has become about free speech, he wishes for nothing more than an apology and an opportunity to finish his film. He additionally says that there is nothing serious about the film itself, only the issues that have come up during its production. He goes further to say the park’s rules are too general and give far too much power to whoever happens to be on duty, and that there is far too much of a chance for there to be abuse of power in this case.
While this case is fairly clearly not in itself a hoax, or an attempt to create a Bigfoot scare as the “victims” of the prank were quickly informed that it was all just a joke after spotting the mysterious creature, it runs into the same problem that has been posited for Bigfoot hoaxers throughout the history of the hairy hominid’s appearance. A person walking around in a Bigfoot costume runs the danger of coming across a hunter who could mistake it for a bear or even wish to capture a real Bigfoot. Such a stunt could result in injury or possibly even worse. Still, Doyle is convinced that his production team and he were acting well within their rights and responsibly. Is this a case of Bigfoot losing his freedom of speech to Big Brother?
The response from the public is varied. Of course there is also the wary public who is suspicious (perhaps rightly so) of anyone who parades around the wild in a Bigfoot costume. Still, it seems this was a special case as the goal was clearly to make a well defined and fictional film or rather film a series of pranks being videotaped. Is this Bigfoot guilty of taking advantage of the emotional fears others have of the legendary Sasquatch? Or is this just a case of good-natured fun being taken too seriously? You decide.