Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Freeway Blogger

I found this website the other day that I've been meaning to post. It's so simple, this approach to spreading a message. We should have been doing this long ago. When do we begin? Here's an interview with Patrick, the Freeway Blogger himself.

Cosmik: When were you motivated to become "The Freeway Blogger," and why?

Freeway Blogger: I became motivated after the Gore vs. Bush decision, when I found they weren't going to count the votes. Gore vs. Bush pissed me off. I'd always been taught that democracy was a place where you counted the votes. I was taught by my father, a liberal Connecticut law scholar who loved his country. If he was still alive I don't know if I'd have put that much into it, but he was dead and for some reason the dead can place a bigger burden on you than the living, and so I decided to fight for democracy for his sake.

Cosmik: When did you hang your first sign, and where? What did it say?

FB: The first sign I put up was a mattress beside an on-ramp just after the Gore vs. Bush decision in 2000. It was lying on the side of the road and I had a can of black spray paint in my car so I spray-painted "1776 - 2000...R.I.P." onto the mattress and propped it up against a tree. It didn't look exactly like a tombstone, but I think the point was made. When I came back a few hours later it was still standing there. I couldn't believe it. A few thousand cars had passed by and not one of them had pulled over and knocked the thing down, which is all it would've taken. It was amazing to me that, during that politically charged time, in San Diego (predominantly Republican), not one person would've bothered to pull over, walk twelve paces and knock it down. Then it occurred to me - it was an onramp, they were accelerating... they all saw what it said but couldn't be bothered to stop. That was someone else's job... probably the guy right behind them. And it happened time after time after time for a couple of hours. Go figure.

Cosmik: How did you start researching the laws regarding "sign placement" in your local area? In other words, where did you get that information?

FB: Legally I knew if all those people were allowed to stick flags over the freeway, I was allowed to put up my own patriotic messages. The Case "Brown vs. CalTrans (9th Federal Circuit Court)" re-affirmed it. CalTrans still considers it their right to take down the signs, even though they still don't take down the flags, and I say let them. There's plenty more where that came from. I dare them to arrest me for putting them up in the first place though. This is America, not North Korea...not yet.

Cosmik: It appears from your site that you haven't been caught yet. How close have you come?

FB: After hanging over 2,000 signs I've been caught three times, twice with reporters, which made the police much more docile. The other time is reported in the Weblog "100 signs, 1,000 soldiers." It was pretty funny, actually. The cops don't want to fuck with me -- they just want me and my sign out of there. I'm happy to oblige them!

Cosmik: Do you have a team of folks by now (since your website went up), or are you still a "loner" in this endeavor?

FB: There are over 1200 of us now, thanks primarily to organized actions like Freeway Free Speech Day. At first I thought the movement would grow organically just on the strength of people seeing the signs and thinking "Hey! I can do that too!" It didn't happen. I'm still not sure why. Visits to the website, fueled by media and web publicity, got a few people to do it. Large organized actions really set the ball rolling, though.

Cosmik: What kind of response have you been getting to your website, and has it seen an increase in traffic since November 2?

FB: In the month before the election we had a huge spike in visitors, about a quarter of a million. Since the election it's tapered down. People are re-evaluating where to go from here. I don't blame them.

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