Teabagging on Tax Day: Protesters Gather in Civic Center (and Keep Clothes On)

A crowd of a few hundred gathered in Civic Center this morning to take part in a Tax Day Tea Party, a series of anti-taxation demonstrations taking place across the country. The events are striving for a grass-roots feel, but are, in fact, funded and promoted by Republican organizations -- as pointed out by Paul Krugman in the New York Times. And then, of course, there was the trouble with the tea bags. It seems that organizers were unaware that "teabag" is a colloquial term for a sexual act in which a man places his scrotom in the mouth of, or in and around the face of, another person. Thus the teabag was utilized as a symbol in the campaign, and thus left-leaning writers unleashed a plague of innuendo across the Internet.

Nonetheless, today's event had the innocuous feel of a senior center Sunday outing. The sun was shining through a clear sky and a tolerable breeze gusted through the grassy lawn in front of Civic Center. The largely 50-and-over crowd was composed of friendly, grandmotherly women decked out in star-spangled garb and cheerful red lipstick. "I love your poster," exclaimed one to a fellow protester. "Thank you," enthused the sign carrier, "My son helped me make the picture on the computer and then I took it to Kinkos!" The men in the audience sported rumpled khakis, stern visages, and more than a few bolo ties.

Some protesters came dressed as colonial Americans, giving the whole thing a weird tourist trap vibe. It wouldn't have looked out of place if one of the women sporting a bonnet had whipped out a butter churn and began giving a demonstration.

One woman opened up a box of Lipton Tea and went around politely offering it to members of the crowd, "Would you like a tea bag?" she asked, "Have you gotten a tea bag?" Given that much has been made of the aforementioned sexual connotation of the tea bag, this bequeathed an aura of absurdity to the proceedings, which only grew stranger when people solemnly dangled tea bags from their pockets, hats and sunglasses with no apparent irony.

Counter-protesters were scarce. One man, dressed mostly in denim, burst into the crowd and began shouting at the red, white and blue onlookers. "You're hypocrites," he yelled, his neck straining, " What about the poor? You're hypocrites!" He sounded as if he was on the verge of tears.

The crowd gathered around him, smiling sweetly and chanting "blah, blah, blah."

He eventually wandered away, defeated, and the tea partiers resumed signing petititions, chatting and snapping each others pictures as if they were on a picnic.

Click here for a full tea bagging slideshow.

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