I read recently in The Montague Reporter, a small local paper up here in the hills of Western Massachusetts, (Theodor Seuss Geisel was born and raised here in Springfield, MA by the way), that a giant megaphone was being built in Turners Falls by Tim DeChristopher, an artist from Northampton, and his crew. The fifteen foot long megaphone's galvanized sheet metal cones, fabricated by Industrial Sheet Metal in Hatfield, MA, along with a ramp leading up to the mouthpiece, were assembled and shipped down to New York City and installed among the federal, state and city courthouses in Foley Square. Named the Freedom of Expression National Monument, the gigantic megaphone gives the littlest citizen an opportunity to let their voice be heard in a big way. The fact that it was built in Western Mass., home to Shays Rebellion, the REAL American Revolution that led to the writing of the Constitution, made this project all the more attractive. How could I resist?
Since I planned to be in New York anyway for the recent events surrounding the Republican National Convention, I thought it might be somewhat...er...judicious? to venture over to the site of this noble installation. After all, I had just marched across the Brooklyn Bridge with thousands of my fellow citizens demonstrating against the draconian policies of the Bush regime and I was in the neighborhood exercising my Constitutional rights anyway, why not cap it off with a recitation of said rights! So, my friends and I took the short walk over to the mega megaphone and prepared to speak truth to power.
Like the honorable Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, I always carry a copy of the U.S. Constitution with me. Who knows, I may need to show it to some over-zealous governmental operative one day in the event its contents have slipped his or her mind. In any case, my copy of the U.S. Constitution came in very handy as I mounted the long ramp leading up to the mouthpiece of the Freedom of Expression National Monument (by the way, the megaphone is fully accessible, it has an additional mouthpiece at street level). It contained text that is often forgotten in the Bush II era and given that the Republicans had come to town to further their ongoing assault on the Constitution, it seemed only fitting that I should broadcast (albeit in a vintage low-tech sort of way) certain excerpts from that noblest of documents.
I have to admit, after a long trek on a hot summer day in New York City, I didn't have a whole lot of energy left at my disposal. However, I did manage to rally enough for a sort of Readers Digest condensed version of the Bill of Rights. Stepping up to the megaphone (and blowing my handy little cop's whistle into it, just in case no one was listening), I proceeded to render my favorite Amendments; the First being the most prominent. Unfortunately, it was Saturday and all the courthouses were locked up tight. The streets were pretty empty as well. Did my little effort make any difference?
OK, so the Freedom of Expression National Monument, like so much of art, is largely a symbolic effort, right? Well yes, but "Horton Hears a Who" is art too, and to be quite honest I attribute my seeming inability to keep my mouth shut in the face of danger as a direct result of being influenced by Dr. Seuss at a tender age. Fact is: there are millions of us Seuss fans and we are not pleased with what's happening in the White House, or Congress for that matter. Will our voices make any difference? Ask Horton and the Whos! We need every voice we can muster in this day and age. Like they say: silence is complicity.
For further information on the Freedom of Expression National Monument go to:
For further information on the U.S. Constitution go to:
http://www.cs.indiana.edu/statecraft/constitution.html or a library near you
To help protect the U.S. Constitution go to: