Responding in kind

The tone of public discourse has been set.

Months before the election, ever since Dick Cheney's foul-mouthed outburst, I decided to stand in front of the White House on election night holding up a sign bearing a few choice words of my own -- "Bush/Cheney: Go Fuck Yourselves."

The plan was to walk over to the White House, maybe four blocks away from my workplace, after polls closed at 7:00. I'd stand in Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue, a place known for dissent, protest and free expression.

I'd follow the rules -- holding poster board and not a prohibited stick, keep moving so I'm not blocking a sidewalk, and following any reasonable demand of law enforcement officers.

Family and friends advised against it. My mother and older brother were certain I'd be arrested, charged with disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace. Expect to spend a night in jail with a couple hundred of your best friends, my brother told me. The cops will use some sort of Catch 22 to arrest you, he said, like telling you to get rid of the poster board and then charging you with littering when you try to put it in the trash bin. There are no trash bins in front of the White House, I told him. Well, there you go, he said.

My sweetie insisted that you can't say "fuck" in public. It isn't a word you see in the newspaper, she said. The Washington Post used the word when reporting on Cheney's exchange with Patrick Leahy, I replied. You're not the Washington Post, she said.

That much is true. I'm not the Washington Post. I'm a citizen, and last I checked there are still a few shreds of the 1st Amendment remaining. I've been subjected to some of the sleaziest, most devious, hateful and invidious politics in memory, and I have something to say in reponse -- "Bush/Cheney: Go Fuck Yourselves." It's something I have to get off my chest.

On election night, a few people mingled in Lafayette Park with uniformed Secret Service officers. Tourists snapped photos in front of that familiar edifice. It was a scene much like any day, perhaps with more foot traffic than usual at this late hour.

I held up my sign, designed with one tactical compromise. Rather than use poster board, which seemed inclined to invite law enforcement attention, I wrote my message on a Post-It note.

It was the message that mattered, not whether its intended recipients read it. I never expected Bush or Cheney to walk out on the White House lawn to read my sign. It was something that had to be said, and I said it.

I feel better.


Blogger SloJo said...


Blogger Muati said...

With all of the high tech cameras that various interested agencies have installed inside the beltway, combined with a system of satellite surveillance that has a classified resolution, I am willing to bet that more than the surrounding sightseers have read your message. Get the word out, I say.

Carpe Tuckus!


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