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Monday, June 06, 2005 | On January 20, 2001, my wife, Ramona, and I carefully made hand-lettered signs protesting George Bush’s installation as our “President” by the U.S. Supreme Court. We were going to participate in a counter-Inaugural march and demonstration in Balboa Park at noon that day. Ramona, who had served for 10 years as a Navy officer, had never before taken part in this particular kind of expression of her 1st Amendment Rights. She asked if I thought that we would be arrested or tear-gassed.
I assured her that such outcomes were unlikely. Although truthfully, I had a fair amount of trepidation based upon my own political activities in the early 1970s. As a 15-year-old, I had been tear-gassed in Miami outside the Republican National Convention that nominated Richard Nixon.
The anti-Inaugural demonstration in San Diego was peaceful and went off smoothly. Perhaps 500 patriotic Americans assembled to protest what we considered to be the usurpation of the United States Presidency by the loser in the 2000 elections. Most of the cars which passed us by on Park Boulevard honked in support or gave us thumbs up. A few motorists did give us a different hand gesture – but that too is their 1st Amendment right. After marching along Park Boulevard we assembled to listen to powerful speeches and songs composed for the occasion.
At the time, we subscribed to a local newspaper. As we scrutinized the paper on the following day, there was page after page of glowing, fawning articles about Bush’s inauguration, but not even a small mention of the anti-Inaugural protest. Was a protest march and rally by 500 citizens that unimportant? Ramona recalled that just days earlier the newspaper had a story occupying almost the entire front page about the grand opening of a chain donut shop. Surely our march was at least as important as the opening of a donut shop.
Disgusted, we canceled our subscription to the daily rag. Ramona wrote a letter to them explaining how its misplaced reporting priorities and skewed, biased political agenda had led us to this decision. Of course, her letter was never published.
Then Ramona came up with another of her good ideas. We went to the Internet and purchased several domain names which were very similar to the newspaper’s, but which also contained the adjective “sucks” as well. For about the next two years we used these to put news on the Web that the local daily’s biases prevented readers from learning about.
Eventually, as I began to plan my Congressional campaign against Rep. Darrell Issa, I was persuaded to let these provocative domain names expire. Interestingly, as soon as they expired, the newspaper bought them up and redirected them so that anyone going to them was redirected to their main site. (This has only recently stopped.)
I’m Mike Byron, a college teacher and recent Congressional candidate. My wife, Ramona Byron, is a social worker and political wonder worker – you know, the sort of person who makes things happen when, but for her, nothing would have happened, like our buying those domain names that were so similar to those of the newspaper.
We will be writing a weekly column oriented around people, issues and events focused on San Diego’s North County. We feel very honored to be writing a column for Voice of San Diego, an online newspaper that contains distinguished alumni from the local print media, such as Neil Morgan and James Goldsborough and many others. I say this because it was our opposition to the local media’s reporting biases that first inspired Ramona and me to become politically active and to my two runs for Congress.
The good people of North and South San Diego County deserve far better than donuts as their front-page news.