When I first heard that Sarah Palin would be the keynote Talking Points Screamer for the corporate-sponsored “grassroots” Tea Party Express III that would be rolling into Boston on April 14th, my first reaction was “Not In My Back Yard she don’t.”
Of course, being a middle-aged, under-employed and recently divorced guy without a trust fund, my options were pretty limited.
Then I remembered.
In January, the surreally funny-if-they-weren’t-so-demented Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas – the folks who brought us the oh-so-spiritual “God Hates Fags” signage at military funerals – descended on San Francisco to protest – I’m not making this up – Twitter.
When the mighty throng of about a half dozen nut jobs for Christ arrived at the Twitter HQ, they were greeted by some of the most beautifully insane signs I had ever seen:
By taking the ridiculous straight to the hate-soaked fundamentalist craziness, the bravely warped citizens of San Francisco were able to send the loonies packing without the usual shouting matches between the righteously outraged population of the nation’s most liberal (and gayest) city and God’s most clueless creations.
But simply stealing a brilliant idea from my West Coast friends wasn’t going to be enough. I had to find a way to get the word out, sans funds and social media proficiency, and didn’t even know where Palin’s Ship of Fools was going to land until a week before.
As we suspected, it was the government owned and controlled Boston Common (Teabaggers aren’t big on irony) which you had to pull a GOVERNMENT permit to use. I quickly swung into action with all the fervor an arthritic, technology challenged child-man could muster, enlisting the help of my recently laid off pal, Paranoid Ned.
First, we discovered that Facebook wasn’t only for telling people that you just had a sandwich. It actually had some real practical utility! Who knew?
We decided to call our group the Nut-Tea Party, and as a tribute to Glenn Beck, appointed a squirrel named Nuttea as our Supreme Dictator, and set up our own crude page:
My next move was to email all the student groups (theater, GLBT, political, charitable) at a bunch of colleges, including Harvard, BC, BU, Northeastern, Emerson, Brandeis and Berklee. Whether that worked or not, we don’t know, but many students put down their Wii remotes and hit the Common with funny signs that day.
Next, we published a statement of what the Nut-Tea Party was about on BlueMassGroup, Universal Hub, and Democratic Underground blogs, stating our simple plan: “Wear Blue, Carry A Silly Sign, and Have Fun”
This had some effect, as we spotted a handful of signs brandishing some of our suggested slogans at the event, including “I FORGOT WHAT I’M ANGRY ABOUT” and “DON’T VIOLATE MY CONSTIPATIONAL RIGHTS”.
But one group of folks that definitely noticed our articles were the conservative – read paranoid nut job – websites, from the mostly confused local yokels Red Mass Group to national uber-berserkos Free Republic. If you want to see why most people think Tea Partiers are mentally unbalanced, go to sites like FreeRepublic.com and Townhall.com. The real nuts aren’t so much at the Tea Parties as online. There’s nothing like the anonymous cover of online posting to reveal your innermost depraved thoughts. I think that’s why the sales of diaries have fallen so sharply.
How much impact the Nut-Tea party had is anyone’s guess, but a scan of the funny signs and blue shirts show that we probably helped mobilize people. More encouraging was the presence of enormous amounts of individuals and small groups that showed up and really made people laugh. If you need more evidence go to the Daily Kos post
or Flickr, where there are hundreds of photos OF Anti-Tea Party protesters. Of the 3,000-4,000 people on the Common, at least 40% were either on our side or onlookers.
There was an appearance by the tuxedoed and evening-gowned Billionaires for Palin (previously Billionaires for Wealthcare), an Alice in Wonderland Group, student groups, labor groups, anti-war groups and lots and lots of individuals holding literally hundreds of funny or Anti-Tea Party signs. There was also a group dedicated to civility: the Real Boston Tea Party who actually served real Earl Grey Tea and cookies.
The most important takeaway for us is this: It doesn’t matter how we all got there; A large number of people and groups came together, made our presence felt and had fun. I can’t tell you how many people gave me the thumbs up or cheered and laughed as Paranoid Ned and I walked into the breech with our dopey signs. The bottom line is this: If you want to push back on something you don’t like, do something about it. As crazy as they are, at least the Teabaggers show up – you’ve got to give them that. If only they had a clue.