There are a million stories in the naked city, but this one is the bare truth.
At the recent Ku Klux Klan rally at the Texas State Capitol a hundred Austinites, myself included, dropped our pants and royally mooned the Grand Wizard and his minions. No, we didn't dim the vitriolic stupidities that were spewing from their First Amendment sound system. That task was handled by a hundred protesting drummers who drowned out practically every word of hate spoken.
But using a form of free expression that makes you proud to live in America, we did demonstrate our feelings in a burlesque alternative to profanity and violence, the normal reactions to the collective shame engendered by the Klan.
"It came to me as a flash... of light," said Songwriter Steven Fromholz, who dreamed up the mass mooning. "There are some in the community who would worry about their place in the community, or about losing their job. But there are some of us who don't have to worry about that. If you don't feed their hate," added Fromholz, "they'll starve to death."
Yes, we were aware that in the best of all possible worlds people shouldn't pay the least bit of attention to a small group of inconsequential sickos like the Ku Klux Klan: the media shouldn't cover, the cops shouldn't guard and everyone else should stay home and work in their gardens or listen to Hip Hop.
But in the best of all possible worlds, we wouldn't have odious hate groups starving for attention. (And you definitely get the feeling these pitiful Klanners didn't get much love when they were young.) So in this imperfect world, and in Austin where political activism is a spectator sport, it seemed the best response might be to show the Klan what we think of them – literally.
By the time 35 young Klansmen and women arrived at the Capitol in armored busses, many potential mooners had gathered, buoyed by Travis County Sheriff Terry Keel who had declared mooning legal, with a little discretion in the explicit exposure department. In other words, cheeks were okay. Not surprisingly that word didn't filter down to the 400 riot-ready officers protecting the Klan, and during the opening moons a couple of cheeky types were threatened with jail. But compared to the Klan's last visit to Austin, in which both protesters and police officers were injured in a pointless melee, this one was a laugh riot.
The action fleshed out as the mooners sang a spirited rendition of If You're Happy and You Know It (Moon the Klan). Unable to reach the front row of anti-racist protestors, we were happy to bring up the rear, so to speak. A survey of bottoms quickly revealed that exposing the flesh was truly not the point as many mooners were wearing comedy underwear; one pair covered with mooing cows and one hand-lettered version reading "Support Live Music In Austin."
My own boxers, covered in yellow smiley faces, perfectly expressed my opinion that there is no point in yelling at or even arguing with the Klan. It only legitimizes them and let's them into our lives. Why bare our teeth when we can bare our buns? That was the philosphy that revealed vertical smiles from both men and women mooners, proving that modesty is not always the better part of valor.
The media, of course, was having a field day. Up on the steps of the Capitol those wacky Klan boys and girls continued their own inanities, waving confederate flags, heiling Hitler and proving every time they opened their mouths that they hadn't paid attention in eighth grade grammar. And while I expected a bunch of rough and tough looking racists, I found a bunch of Ku Klux Klowns. You've never seen as many botched barber college haircuts or pimpled, baby-faced novice shavers in your life.
Give it up kids. There's no pride in hate; only pity. If you keep up this nonsense, Klan jokes will sweep the land like the ripples from some pompous ass falling in the water.
Question: What has nine teeth and an IQ of 53?
Answer: A meeting of the KKK.
I'm not arguing with their First Amendment rights, but if these guys are so tough, let's see them hold their rally on Martin Luther King Boulevard with no police protection. Why do we feel obligated to spend millions in taxpayer money to protect them anyway?
In the meantime the police are caught in the middle of a thankless job. At least one black officer assisted in holding back the 5000 non-mooning anti-Klan protesters. How did he feel guarding a bunch of racists? And then I realized that he probably didn't feel any different than any other cop. Despite their claims, the KKK is not about the differences between black and white; the Klan is about the difference between ignorance and reason. Like all movements born of hate, they are merely seeking scapegoats.
The rally and the protests continued for an hour after our over-exposure, with occasional random acts of mooning as scattered relief to the tension like cooling raindrops on a hot day. By then most of us with elevator trousers had already wandered away. Folksinger Bill Oliver (who earlier flashed the mooing cows) waved farewell and said: "I guess we showed them." I guess we did.
With all the attendant publicity, perhaps mooning will become a new form of respected political commentary, but I doubt it. Sure, there are those of us who'll miss a little sleep over never having thought of mooning Richard Nixon when it might've done some good, but true political issues merit discussion and debate. The reason this blue moon was so perfectly apt is because the Klan has become nothing more than a sick joke. Next time they come to town, I'm hoping to slide a bunch of whoopee cushions onto the seats of their bus. Let them blame each other for a change.