Naked Truth

As you may have heard by now, a group of naked people showed up in Speaker John Boehner’s office to protest the potential impact of automatic spending “sequestrations” on funding for anti-AIDS programs. Here’s some of Sahil Kapur’s report on the incident for TPM:

Seven naked protesters swarmed the office of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Tuesday for some 20 minutes of loud chanting against cuts to AIDS funding.

Among their chants: “Boehner, Boehner, don’t be a dick, budget cuts will make us sick.” And: “Fight AIDS. Act up. Fight back.” And: “End AIDS with the Robin Hood tax, no more budget cuts on our back.” And: “Budget cuts are really rude, that’s why we have to be so lewd.”

The screaming, fully-nude protesters stood still in the center of the office, together in a line but facing in different directions. The room quickly filled up with members of the activist groups they belong to, observers taking photographs, a handful of reporters, and, eventually, police….

The protest was organized by AIDS activist organizations Health Global Access Group (GAP), Queerocracy, Act Up NY and Act Up Philadelphia. They say that if sequestration — automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January — goes into effect, funding to combat HIV/AIDS could drop substantially and cost lives.

The protest is notable because nearly all the noise about possible sequestrations has come from those fighting defense cuts. And while the nude protesters were specifically calling for “new revenues” to make the sequestration unnecessary, the more immediate injustice is that across-the-board cuts represent a very explicit abandonment of congressional responsibility to pick and choose among spending priorities. For good (with respect to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and several other key low-income programs) or ill, some priorities have been exempted from the cuts. Advocates of others have to find ways to draw attention to their causes, and those in Boehner’s office found an all-American way to do just that.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.