Burning Man Future in Jeopardy - Regulate Behaviors that are Considered “Obscene, Indecent, Vulgar or Lewd"
Burning Man organizers sued Pershing County in federal court on Thursday, claiming the rural municipality is unfairly imposing a festival ordinance that could spell doom for the eight-day arts gathering.
The question boils down to whether or not Pershing County can use its festival ordinance to regulate Burning Man, which has taken place in the Black Rock Desert since 1991 and already operates under a federal permit issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Attorneys for Burning Man say the county’s festival ordinance directly conflicts with the BLM permit. The ordinance goes into effect in October, meaning it would affect the 2013 event, and would allow Pershing County deputies to regulate behaviors that are considered “obscene, indecent, vulgar or lewd.” It could also mean children are no longer allowed to attend the event.
“This will change the nature of (Burning Man),” said Marian Goodell, a board member of Black Rock City, LLC in an interview on Thursday. “And this is not in (Pershing County’s) jurisdiction to change the nature of it. It’s not their job.”
She added, “I’m confident we can get through this and people will see us out in the Black Rock Desert in 2013. Northern Nevada is a perfect home for Burning Man.”
Burning Man organizers say the lawsuit will not affect this year’s event, which starts Aug. 27 and ends Sept. 3 and is expected to attract more than 60,000 people, up from a peak of about 53,000 people last year.