Behind the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., crowds heading to the swearing in of Barack Obama walked by two Capitol Hill rowhomes where anti-abortion protesters burdened passersby with angry messages. As the day wore on, these faithful dissenters were seen or heard here and there, as were those who want Gitmo closed, but overall the inauguration seemed a quiet affair. About the only free speech going on was Obama's.
Sure, there were organizers, but the voices were pleading and plain. People promoting human rights in Darfur, for example, are hardly controversial. Neither is the message on kissy lip stickers many of the throngs were wearing on their clothes, declaring "Make Out, Not War." The most obviously organized group-other than the military and police presence-was the Girl Scouts, whose volunteers were wearing red aprons.
Solitary voices of dissent were apparent, too, but, again, the messages were far from hard hitting. "Use Less Water" was stitched onto the back of a jacket worn by a bundled up woman who was trundling along with a companion, whose makeshift sign read: "We Can't Buy Change." Two people carried a sign across the Mall, hurriedly trying to get somewhere, but they kindly kept stopping for photographers and snap-shooters. The sign, bearing John Lennon's words, was a hit: "You May Say I'm A Dreamer -- I'm Not The Only One."