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Encounter in a small town


A restaurant reminiscent of the Hog Trough Grill & Feed. It is mid-afternoon and only two tables are occupied.

A MAN and WOMAN enter and seat themselves at a booth toward the back. Immediately, they notice a one-foot tall, brightly colored, three-sided CARD. There is one on every table. From the lack of ketchup stains, wrinkles, and fingerprints, the enormous cards appear to be newly placed.

The woman plucks the card from their table.

WOMAN (READING): United States Census 2010. It’s SAFE! It’s EASY! It’s IMPORTANT! It’s used to allocate more than $400 billion of federal funding to programs such as …

She ticks off each listed program with a finger.

WOMAN: Nope. Don’t need that one … that one … that one … Nope, guess we don’t need that census.

She hands the card to the man.

MAN (READING): Are Census data really kept confidential? … No court of law, not even the President of the United States, can access your individual responses.

Puts card back on table.

MAN: at least you have to give them credit for knowing that ‘data’ is plural. But you’ve got to wonder. If nobody’s ever allowed to access your information, why do they bother gathering it in the first place?

WOMAN: Yeah, for sure they’d never use it to … oh, round anybody up and put them in internment camps. Then deny it.

At that moment the restaurant owner, CORINNE, comes to the booth.

CORINNE: Hi, folks. What would you like to drink?

WOMAN: Iced tea.

MAN: Coke.

WOMAN: Um, Corinne, no offense, but why do you have this government propaganda on your tables? I always figured you more for the sort of person who would resist the census, not promote it.

Corinne casts a wary eye toward a nearby occupied table.

CORINNE (MUTTERING): I am. I’ve never answered the census in my whole life. I throw the forms away. Those people lie.

WOMAN: Then why do you …?

Corinne lifts her pencil from her order pad and points its eraser end toward a logo and slogan. This device is printed on all three sides of the card. It’s the logo and slogan of the city government. She rolls her eyes as if to say she had little choice.

WOMAN: Oh. Well then. You won’t mind if I take this thing and crush it, will you?

The woman removes the card from the table, crumples it flat and sits on it.

CORINNE: I hope you’ll burn the damn thing. I’ll give you the matches for the bonfire. I guarantee you the rest of them will be gone before long.

She takes their order and leaves.

They eat, make small talk with Corinne as she takes their money, then rise to leave. As they walk toward the door, the woman plucks the census cards from every empty table in their path, flattens them and carries them with her.

MAN (AMUSED): You’re probably committing about five federal crimes by doing that, you know.

WOMAN: Good. I haven’t filled my quota of felonies this week, so this is an easy way to do it.

They exit stage left.



  1. Pat
    Pat February 12, 2010 4:25 am

    Now that’s a SIMPLE answer to a COMPLEX problem. What comes next?

  2. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal February 12, 2010 10:10 am

    Personally, even if pressured into putting the cards on the table, I would have added my own little editorial comments on each card. Just like I have done in the past when coerced into displaying govprop.

  3. Matt
    Matt February 12, 2010 10:33 am


  4. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth February 12, 2010 12:22 pm

    “Always pull up survey stakes!”

    Actually, how about this bit of monkeywrenching? (I actually lost coffee over this one.)

  5. Rayme
    Rayme February 12, 2010 10:21 pm

    An article in the UK pointed out that now they have so many laws and regulations that in order for one to get anything done, they have to break the law nearly every day. With the speed in which Congress is passing laws, we will all be law breakers on a regular basis.

  6. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty February 13, 2010 6:34 am

    I never pass up the opportunity to fold, spindle and mutilate any government propaganda. Helps keep my blood pressure lowered. Just good clean fun.

    Break the “law?” Ah, heck… they’ve got to catch me first. 🙂

  7. ww rutland
    ww rutland February 13, 2010 7:07 am

    Stop pussfooting around, just shoot the bastards and get it over with. Don’t even think about a sissy little .22, use a .308 hollowpoint. Of course I’m joking -right? I try to break a dozen stupid laws a day and most of the time try to ‘get-ur-done’

  8. mrwickey
    mrwickey February 13, 2010 7:53 am

    There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.

    -Ayn Rand

    As George H.W. Bush once said, “If the American people ever knew what we were really up to, they would hang us from every lamp post in Washington. That day may not be far off.

  9. Puden Tain
    Puden Tain February 13, 2010 8:04 am

    Many of our commie leaders are in office because their supporters lied on a voter card.

    What if people were to quadrupple the number of people reported on their census cards so that more money is allocated to our small towns rather than America’s commie ghettos?

  10. Dave
    Dave February 13, 2010 8:08 am

    Knowing that our front doors have been tagged by ACORN members(I witnessed my home being entered),I am somewhat more suspicious of their intentions.
    Let’s just say that I will be listing a fake name on my census and I will only list the number of adults in the home-no names,no ages,nothing else.
    Remember that during WW2,citizens of cities that were being invaded by foreign troops would attempt to stymie the progress of the invaders by altering or destroying street signs.
    Now that we have our exact front door location logged,a military force(foreign or domestic) can easily locate anyone whether or not sympathetic neighbors have destroyed signs,wall numbers or mail boxes.
    Keep that in mind when filling out your form.

  11. Alice Lillie
    Alice Lillie February 13, 2010 9:31 am

    I wonder why Dave is filling it out at all.

    I’m not. No matter *what* they do, I am absolutely, positively, utterly, totally, completely and 100% *determined.* They are not getting the information, not from me anyway.

    I know they can find some of the answers some other way, which is too bad, but there is a principle here.

    Nice little skit. It would be fun at meetings.

  12. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal February 13, 2010 10:54 am

    Maybe some of you are not aware that we all commit around 5 federal felonies every day (according to some who care more than I do).

    Several years ago I was talking to a retired sheriff’s deppity about some “law” or another. He told me that by the time I got my breakfast eaten I had already broken several “laws” so I should just not worry about it. Good advice that I have followed since then.

  13. James McKindles
    James McKindles February 13, 2010 11:19 am

    I refused to comply 4 years ago. I refused to file a special census form, they sent a woman to my house, 350 miles north of Detroit.

    I wasn’t home, she posted a note on the door threatening me with a $500.00 fine for failure to comply.

    Three weeks later I read in the newspaper a dozen or so census bureau laptops were lost with sensitive information on them.

    Still waiting for my arrest, I treasure my threatening note from them!

  14. Sally O'Boyle
    Sally O'Boyle February 13, 2010 11:28 am

    Not filling it out. I may tell them the number of people in my house, gotta check my handy Constitution. But nothing else. The only reason I’d fill out some of it is to break the law in their faces. On the other hand, if no one fills it out… there’s a pretty big statement right there. Sc*w their federal money.

  15. Sally O'Boyle
    Sally O'Boyle February 13, 2010 11:28 am

    Oh, man, I misspelled screw.

  16. charlie
    charlie February 13, 2010 12:16 pm

    I say (if you can determine how) answer the census questions in a way that will maximize the amount of government largesse your community receives.

  17. Claire
    Claire February 13, 2010 1:31 pm

    Alice Lillie (pretty name), LOL, I don’t know whether it would make a good skit (though you’re welcome to it it you want to try). But it made a lovely little bit of reality.

    I’m always thrilled when an encounter with strangers or near-strangers reveals that there are secret rebels everywhere.

    Thanks for the lively comments, all. 🙂

  18. Skull / Bones » Blog Archive
    Skull / Bones » Blog Archive February 13, 2010 1:48 pm

    […] Wow.  What rebels.  Resisting the Census. […]

  19. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth February 13, 2010 1:48 pm

    Often when I start to lose heart, I am reminded that there really are secret rebels everywhere.

    Even here.

    And that’s not just a flip comment about a site that made me grin. I spent some respectable time travelling in western Europe and the UK for business over the last 15 years, and I was always delighted to find that, despite the tube (and the Tube) and the papers and all the other official whatnot, I seemed to be able to find and strike up conversations with “secret rebels” wherever I went. Regularly.

    Let me tell ya right now, my luck ain’t that good. There’s something more there.

  20. Claire
    Claire February 13, 2010 1:53 pm

    Skull / Bones … for many people, it’s a start. For lots of others, it’s one small part of a larger pattern of resistance or “creative disregard.” Nobody says it’s on par with standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. But then, it doesn’t have to be. Every act of self-ownership matters in its own right.

  21. Claire
    Claire February 13, 2010 1:56 pm

    Kevin, I’ve seen that page with the destroyed gatsos. And every time I do, I grin. I hope I never have to set foot in the UK again, but it’s great to know that people aren’t taking their new nanny state graciously.

  22. Gregory K. Sloat
    Gregory K. Sloat February 13, 2010 2:04 pm

    The Constitution mandates a census every ten years. What most people don’t realize is that ALL you have to provide is the number of people living at the address. Nothing more. No names (they already have that, or how could they mail you the form?), no ages, no gender, nothing. Just, there are “X” many people living here, and that’s IT. They can pester you and threaten you, but if they tried to legally do anything, they’d lose, because you fulfilled your obligation by providing the number of people at the address. That’s all the Constitution requires. That information IS needed, because that’s how the number of House Representatives are figured. You don’t want to NOT participate in the census, because you could lose representation (yes, I know; we’re not “represented” NOW, but I’m talking how it was supposed to work).

  23. David Singhiser
    David Singhiser February 13, 2010 4:40 pm

    Every rejection of cooperating with the government is a step in the right direction. Our cooperation with it is an assent to our voluntary servitude.

  24. Silverliberty
    Silverliberty February 13, 2010 5:03 pm

    Tolstoy wrote in his great novel,”War and Peace” that “where there is Law there is injustice”.

    Love Liberty,

  25. Bear
    Bear February 13, 2010 5:55 pm

    Hi all I mistakingly filled out our Census in Australia and accidently put that i earned $178,000 for that financial year the Next thing I knew was the Taxation Dept wanted to know where i had all of these earnings from and child support slugged me with a huge debt too. So the fact that u cant be Identified or that No one has access to the info is complete Bullshit

  26. JLM
    JLM February 13, 2010 8:07 pm


  27. Peter
    Peter February 13, 2010 9:25 pm

    I may tell them the number of people in my house, gotta check my handy Constitution.

    Why? If the Constitution says you gotta do it, you’ll happily do it, but if some other law says you gotta do it, you’ll fight? If you want to do it, do it; if not, not; to hell with what any piece of paper says.

  28. IraqVet
    IraqVet February 13, 2010 11:28 pm

    How quickly some people forget the lessons of history, and by default are doomed to repeat them.

    In the old Soviet regime, everybody was considered guilty of something… This made the governments job of controlling the masses much easier.

    It is interesting to watch the British roll over without even a wimper… Makes me wonder if we will do the same?

  29. Carsten von Saal
    Carsten von Saal February 15, 2010 11:33 pm

    Back in the 80’s when we had the last census in Germany while I lived there, there were also people who were opposed to it. Some wag suggested writing that you were 20 years old supporting 14 children from your old age pension. He said “Let your imagination run wild”. If it is as secret as they say it is, how would they ever know that you did such a thing? I would never suggest that here, of course. That would be illegal. Ve musst all do our duty, jawohl.

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