WASHINGTON -- Welcome to Washington, where frozen treats and political activism meet.
On Tuesday, the Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop in Union Station will dish out more than just cones of Half Baked. From noon to 5:00 p.m., co-founder Ben Cohen and his crew will hand out dollar bills stamped with phrases like "Stamp Money Out Of Politics" in an attempt to raise awareness of money's influence on the electoral process.
The Stamp Stampede's ultimate goal: A Constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and declaring "1) money is not speech; and, 2) corporations are not people."
Is it legal to deface American currency? According to the Stamp Stampede's lawyers, yes:
It’s legal to stamp political messages on US currency. Many people assume that it’s illegal to stamp or write on paper currency, but that’s not the case. It’s illegal to destroy paper currency or deface it so much that it’s no longer recognizable and has to be taken out of circulation. But the intent of the Stampede is to make sure that these dollars STAY in circulation to help spread the message and build momentum for change. You can read the complete legal statement from our lawyer here.
In a CNN op-ed, Cohen and co-founder Jerry Greenfield explained why ice cream is best served with a side of political discussion:
Ice cream brings people together. We might not agree on politics or religion, heck we might not agree on Chunky Monkey or Phish Food, but that doesn't mean we can't talk. And in that way, ice cream teaches us a lesson about democracy.
Democracy is the triple-deluxe droolworthy idea that the people can govern and be governed in turn, that We the People are the author and the subject of the law. In America, it's the idea that we can elect representatives who will rise above self-interest and work on behalf of the common good.
At least, that was the idea. These days, it looks a little different.
To make the Stamp Stampede even more palatable, every person who shows a stamped dollar will receive a free ice cream cone.
Ben & Jerry's is well known for its political activism, including temporarily rebranding "Chubby Hubby" as "Hubby Hubby" to support same-sex marriage and providing substantial funding for the Occupy Wall Street movement.