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Is That Legal – Glitter Bombing

Improv AZ Fake Protest Part Deux by Sheila Dee

I love glitter. This is not a secret. On several occasions I’ve covered myself with glitter hairspray and shed glitter everywhere I went. I’ve even verbally assaulted cars about my enjoyment of glitter. I love the way it sparkles. It makes me happy.

Glitter bombing is when someone throws glitter on an unsuspecting person, usually a public person who has strong anti-LGBT beliefs, to promote equality for the LGBT community. Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachman, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum have all been glitter bombed.  When Newt Gingrich was glitter bombed by Nick Espinosa, Nick said, “Feel the rainbow, Newt. Stop the hate. Stop anti-gay politics” and he poured a box of glitter all over him. Marcus Bachman’s “pray the gay away” clinic was glitter bombed by a group of people dressed up as barbarians. When they were told that Marcus wasn’t in the building, they danced and threw glitter in the clinic’s lobby.

I think glitter bombing is entertaining, but is it legal?

Is It Illegal to Throw Glitter on Unsuspecting Persons?
Probably. The law generally criminalizes the offensive touching of another person or putting a person in fear of offensive touching. Pouring or throwing glitter on a person without their consent could put the glitter bomber at risk of being charged with assault and/or battery depending on the applicable state law.

What If Someone Gets Glitter in their Eye and Needs Medical Attention?
We live in a society where we hold people financially responsible for the harm they cause. If a glitter bomb target or innocent bystander gets glitter in their eye and gets a scratched cornea, the glitter bomber can expect to be sued for the damages they caused.

Photo by Nick Russano

Why Aren’t Glitter Bombers Arrested?
I suspect the politicians who have been glitter bombed don’t want to draw a lot of attention to the fact that people throw glitter at them. It might encourage more people to throw glitter at them. It definitely will interfere with them being able to focus on their platforms.

Glitter bombers are generally rock stars for a day or two, and then life goes back to normal. If the glitter bomber is arrested for the assault, it could be in the news for weeks. I think politicians who get glitter bombed would rather their glitter bombers disappear into the background rather than shine a national spotlight on their attackers.

I think glitter bombing is going to be around for a while. It’s a festive public demonstration, and so far I have heard of only one instance where a person was arrested for glitter bombing. I’ve heard of no injuries that would discourage would-be glitter bombers from doing it. The glitter bomb videos I’ve seen suggest that the worst thing that’s likely to happen to anyone is that they’ll been escorted away by the Secret Service or told to get off someone’s private property. But there is always a risk that they’ll be arrested, or face other consequences like being fired from their job or expelled from school.

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4 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    I remember years ago several people threw “pies” at Bill Gates. Some people thought it was funny. I didn’t. I don’t think that type of behavior is acceptable. Here’s James Wolcott on glitter bombing after the odious Rupert Murdoch was attacked last year: “I hate these prankster pie-ings and glitter bombings–they’re symbolic assassinations, nastily juvenile and intended to humiliate. Not even loathed figures should have strangers lunging at them.”

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Brian. I agree that pie-ings and glitter bombings are physical attacks. I doubt the attackers have any intent to assassinate their victims, but rather to bother, humiliate, and possibly raise awareness to their cause.

  2. Nick says:

    Brian, I’m sure the glitter bombers don’t think that Marcus Bachmann calling gay people “barbarians [who] need to be educated” is acceptable behavior either. And I know these aren’t your words, but calling it “symbolic assassination” is about as silly a statement as someone can make about this… throwing sparkly glitter at someone and making a pretty, rainbow mess on the floor is quite different than murdering that person, and I really don’t see the symbolism of it.

    Great article Ruth! …and video, “I like glitter!” too.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Nick. I don’t see the connection between throwing glitter and murder either.