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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Art, Leniency, and Kyle Huff

Posted by on March 29 at 10:58 AM

Should Kyle Huff have lost his right to bear arms after he drunkenly shot up a fiberglass moose in his small Montana town in 2000?

It’s a question I’ve been exploring, and one that lots of Slog readers have been commenting on. The Seattle Times has been pursuing the question too, and today the Times gets (almost) to the bottom of the leniency shown to Huff after the 2000 shooting incident.

Initially charged as a felony, which could have caused Huff to lose his right to own a gun for three years, the crime was reduced through a plea-bargain to a misdemeanor.


Because John Rawlings, the artist who created the moose, provided Huff with a lucky break, according to the Seattle Times:

After the attack on the moose, Huff was initially charged with a felony. The charge reflected the extent of the sculpture damage, which appeared to be well above the $1,000 threshold of property damage required for a felony. Under Montana state law, anyone convicted of a felony runs the risk of losing his or her right to own firearms for three years.

Rawlings, the artist, told police it took 70 hours of labor to repair the moose. He valued his labor at $25 an hour, so the damage initially was estimated at more than $1,700 plus materials.

But in a September 2000 letter to the board of the Moose on the Loose public arts project in which 15 moose sculptures by different area artists were set up around town and later auctioned Rawlings charged for only 26 hours of his labor. This put the total bill, including expenses, at $761.35.

The Times article doesn’t answer the question of why Rawlings decided to undervalue the cost of fixing the moose. Was it to give the arts organization that was paying him a break on its expenses? Or was it to cut Huff some slack?

And those questions lead right back to a more fundamental question: Would a felony charge and the temporary loss of his right to own a gun, possibly until 2005, have changed Huff’s actions last weekend?

I don’t know, but here’s something else I wonder about:

As I was writing a profile of Huff for this week’s Stranger, I was struck by Huff’s repeated interactions with art, public and personal, throughout his life.

Huff’s mother is an artist and runs an art gallery in Whitefish, Montana. At the age of 22, her son shot up a public art installation. He got out of being charged with a felony in that crime, we now know, due to the apparent generosity of an artist, John Rawlings. When Huff graduated high school in 1996, he went on to study art at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana, but dropped out before completing his associate’s degree. His best friend Dustin, however, completed a degree in fine arts at the University of Montana and is apparently a good oil painter. In Seattle, Huff talked about wanting to go to the Art Institute. He may even have applied for admission. But school officials say he never took a class there.

Was Huff, I wonder, one very, very frustrated artist?

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Hitler was an aspiring artist as well. Could having your desire to create art frustrated really destroy your soul that much?

From a previous slog posting:

Kyle Huff was an artist, and his canvas was the human body, like the Renaissance Masters, his fascination was the human form.

Yet Kyle Huff's deconstruction of the human form places him in the Post Modern tradition. Where the Renaissance masters gained fame by constructing a perfectly proportioned human body, Master Artist Kyle Huff's fame rises out of his brillant
(de)construction of those same balanced proportions.

It is up to The Media to examine Kyle Huff's background in detail to explore the small town source of his talent, thus exposing for us the roots of his newly minted fame.

Like many great artists, initially Kyle Huff's work will be rejected. We the public must demand to see the coroner photographs of Kyle's artwork.

Where many in the public see only the senseless chaos of violence, the educated will read a discourse on fragile human beauty written early Sunday morning with a shotgun.



I read the P-I "loser with no friends" angle on this guy. But as you construct the media celebrity profile that the public is craving, why not combine the "loser with not friends" and "artist".

---Lonely Kyle was simply a frustrated Montana artist who hated his towns fiberglass Moose sculptures. Perhaps this intense hatred for bad public art should have been the first indication...

The fiberglass pigs in Seattle also experienced vandalism, but where are the names of those criminals now? Where is national database of names of those who deface the fiberglass animal scupltures town councils are puting up all over our great nation?

I ask you fellow citizen isn't shooting a bad fiberglass moose sculpture a form of domestic terrorism? And yet what is Homeland Security doing nothing to protect us from this evil.

If only that Montana town had taken the time to record the names and addresses of the philistine rustics who didn't like their towns moose art, a terrible tradedy could have been averted....

There's a chance to win a Pulitzer in the media frenzy around these killings and constructing the media identity of this murderer is the key to grabbing that prize.

I believe the Artist, loner, domestic terrorist has the right tone.

Also having The Stranger cover the "law and order" angle is brilliant. Why not suggest seizing small town library records? Did Kyle Huff ever check out a book about sculpture? Did he contemplate the work of Henry Moore and compare that to his town's fiberglass moose? Something may have "clicked" at that moment.

Also put something in your article promoting more fiberglass animal sculptures in our towns. You could even install cameras in them to watch public reaction, record comments. The moment someone says "I hate these fiberglass pigs" call the police!

Keep digging intreped media reporters...the public longs to move closer to this killer.

Eli, you've really got to read the court/arrest reports - posted at the Times website - if you want to understand the Times story: As I said in an earlier post, the damage was more than $2000 but - because the moose was being auctioned as a fund-raiser - the man who did the repairs donated his labor, leaving a $650 balance. But yes indeed if Mont. prosecutors wanted to go to trial on a felony charge, they could have by using the actual damage amounts. Alas, opportunity, and lives, lost.

Art kills.

why isn't anyone more concerned that kane huff has disappeared?

Alas - why can anyone think Huff would not have replaced guns were they impounded in Montana years ago?

Gee wheez, Beavers - engage brains.

Kane will be in hiding for the rest of his life.....or at least until some really smart promoter gets him to write the book.

He and his mom are somewhere in Montana with more family and friends near for support. many unkind things said about the depraved living hell that is life in Seatttle -especially on Capitol Hill with all the degenerates, fags, druggies and assorted reprobates.

Kane does know a great deal. So much, it may take him years to sort it out into his conscious mind. We protect ourselves in these situations - he deserves some slack.

It probably would've prevented nothing. Kyle Huff still had hate in his heart, and that wouldn't have been removed with a felony conviction and the temporary loss of his guns. As you stated, he would've gotten them back before the night of the killings.

The guns are really a subordinate issue to the crux of the matter, which was his motivation. He was motivated enough to kill everyone in a house and kill himself. Where did that come from?

Please read articles at: for more info on Huff.

Kane and his family owe the families of the children an explanation.
It is easy to interpret the 'NOW' as the following thru of a plan. Is it possible Kyle confused rave fans/participants with skinheads who 'beat the crap' out of Kane & Kyle at a Seattle bar brawl?
Kyle had a tremendous amount of anger
that he was able to express only when he drank. that's why people are so shocked that Kyle could do this; he just never expressed his anger.
Also, some people undergo a jekyll & hyde transformation when they drink and are totally overcome by the negative personality. It seems that Kyle would have done this somewhere, sometime.
Kyle's family are victims of his actions and are living a nightmare too.

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