Standing near the speakers was a little girl. She held a sign that read "Forget Enron, Bomb Iraq: The Republican Way." The sign was nearly as tall as she was.
Partly to protect innocent youngsters like these and partly to project a positive image, the KC Iraq Task Force has instituted a rule against swearing at the weekly protests.
On the day of the war, the always-polite Brad Grabs got up to announce the rules that keep the demonstrations civil and inviting. He reminded protesters to respect others, to remain nonviolent and to pick up their trash before leaving the park. But he didn't mention not swearing.
The omission might have been accidental, but we like to think it was because, holy shit, a motherfucking war had started.
Besides, we figure if that little girl could watch a "funeral" procession through the Plaza in which people held up "coffins" (cardboard boxes) representing Iraqi children who starved to death or died of untreated illnesses during years of U.S.-led sanctions, she's ready to begin understanding that, sometimes, when they become very, very angry, people use very special words.
Now that we're hearing about casualties, chemical weapons, urban warfare and POWs, we'd rather look this child in the eye and talk about goddamn balloons and big-ass rainbows and all that crap.
So far, we've only heard one protester use swear words to exercise his First Amendment rights. He was a clean-cut young man in a suit. (We later found out the pissed-off lad was an Eagle Scout.) As the mock funeral procession wound to its conclusion at Mill Creek Park, he started rallying the troops to keep marching.
"Get back on the street!" he yelled, patting the arms of his fellow protesters like some kind of activist soccer coach. "We hate this damn war!"