The problem with this festival of free speech schtick is that in order to be taken seriously, you’ve got to have some sort of open house policy. You can’t have a door bitch to democracy telling crackpots, conspiracy theorists, dooms day cultists, anti-abortionists and 9-11 revisionists – “Sorry pal, you can’t come in here with that whacked out theory.”

But god you’d love to.

As the sun beats down on the mile high city and the 16th street mall has reached capacity. Delegates and lobbyists jostle with enterprising Americans selling everything and anything Barak Obama’s mug can be plastered across. They might have hope around these parts, but by looking at many of the garish T-Shirt designs they ain’t got taste.

They do have however, plenty of nut jobs with sandwich boards and oversized banners arguing the case for everything from Apocalypse as the preferred option for the planet to the dangers of bird porn. Yes, you read that right. Bird porn: http://www.stopbirdporn.org/

Each day of the convention on the corner of 16th Street and Stout in the heart of Denver, a middle aged woman and her burly companion stand in the heat railing against the evil that birds do when they copulate.

The theory goes like this. Millions of people like to grab their binoculars and head to the wilds in search of their favourite winged creatures. These tawdry twitchers aren’t just there for the pretty feathers, but according to the anti bird porn lobby, they’re getting their rocks off watching the birds bonking each other. Not so much ornithologists as hornythologists.

Surely these folks are taking the p-ss? I asked that very question of the lady with the street sign and she almost took my head off with the handle of her banner.

These guys are easily on top of the crackpot podium here in Denver and that takes some doing, because the competition is fierce. The 9-11 conspiracy nuts who claim it was an inside job by the U.S. government have had a few kooky demonstrations which have been the subject of some sharp retorts from passers by.

The anti abortionists go for shock and awe with huge billboards of aborted foetuses stuck to the sides of trucks and carried through the streets warning of the evils of the right to choose. They don’t seem interested in a reasoned and ethical discussion on the issue, rather they seem proud of their gory photo galleries, and so much so that you can’t help think it’s them with the serious issues to deal with.

And everywhere else there is Jesus. He seems to have more delegates on the streets than anyone else. Disappointingly his T-shirts are just as bad.

Peter Fray

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