[Noisebridge-discuss] DARPA protest sign

Jake jake at spaz.org
Mon May 21 18:13:22 UTC 2012

Corey wrote:

> My happiest moment, actually, was when Jake came through past with a big 
> placard protesting DARPA. I don't think I saw him *not* talking about 
> the issue with people, and he was everywhere, not just in the 
> hackerspaces quarter. I also had an interesting chat with someone (can't 
> remember who), who had gone to somebody who was representing DARPA I 
> believe and giving a talk on it. He said that the speaker was dressed in 
> military fatigues, and there seemed to be a bit of a "cultural mismatch" 
> with at least a few people.

Yes, I carried that sign:  (original drawing by Ari)

The whole time I was there, on both days.  Dozens of people talked with me 
about it or thanked me, even more asked to take a picture, and many more 
took pictures without asking.  Who knows how many people saw it.

The most common question was "What is DARPA?" and I would explain, and 
tell them that this is the first year that Maker Faire is accepting money 
from DARPA and will be putting the money in classrooms, acting as a 
conduit for free advertising for the military to children.

The most common conversation was simply "thank you for doing this."

There were only four incidents of people disliking the sign.  The very 
first person to comment on it was a Maker Faire worker of some kind, 
replete with crew lanyard and shirt and walkie-talkie and everything else, 
and she told me simply "don't believe what you read on the internet" and 
suggested I was woefully misinformed.  When I asked if i was mistaken that 
Maker Faire had accepted a grant from DARPA she didn't answer, but just 
kept telling me not to believe what I read on the internet while refusing 
to tell me what I was misunderstanding.  This is not a surprise.

The second was a couple of jockish guys who really should have just 
admitted that they enjoy the military lifestyle and the theoretical glory 
of war, but instead accused me of wanting to "let Canada invade us."  I 
said that I was fine with an actual defensive military but that our 
soldiers are being used for immoral and unwinnable wars for the purpose of 
keeping oil profitable for private companies, and that marketing the 
military to children was something I was opposed to.

The third was very similar, but three guys asking almost sarcastic 
questions and clearly expecting that I would be too dull to notice.  So I 
played along and answered their questions and pointed out things I thought 
they hadn't realized about the whole issue.  One of them kept saying "i'm 
glad you're able to carry that sign and express yourself freely" obviously 
suggesting that U.S. soldiers killing people in Afghanistan was somehow 
protecting my freedom of speech.  Eventually I tired of the conversation 
and told them, "it's OK, I understand that you guys are pro-war and I'm 
not, we can just disagree" to which they became inexplicably very 
defensive (fortunately not the kind of Defense that the military 
normally uses) but I was done hearing their self-confused blather.

I also pointed out to all these people (and the people who were pleased 
with the sign) that considering the Pentagram's $600+ budget this year, 
the cost of a few makerbots and soldering stations was insultingly small, 
especially considering that they had been advertising with NASCAR for $26 
MILLION until just this week.

The fourth displeased reaction was the famous Dale Dougherty, the editor 
and publisher of MAKE, and general manager of the Maker Media division of 
O'Reilly Media, Inc.

He was very upset, and asked me if I thought Maker Faire actually got 
money from DARPA, like was it a check?  And i said that MF had accepted a 
grant from DARPA.  So he changed strategy, and asked "What about G.E.? 
Did you think about that?  Where do you think AutoDesk gets its money? 
Where do you think I get my money?"  I didn't realize who I was talking to 
or make the connection right away so I just said "Just because that's how 
you make money doesn't make it OK."  He looked at my shirt and asked "Do 
you work for Instructables?" i said no, and he asked my name and I told 
him and he said "I'm Dale Dougherty, nice to meet you" and shook my hand 
(although he was clearly upset) and walked away.

Ari drew the poster and I think the guy patting the kid's head is Dale.

A picture of the back of the sign on saturday:


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