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Kate Collins: How come nobody will take my speech as payment?



Thursday, April 24, 2014
To the editor:

I’m not ordinarily one of those glass-half-full people, but the day after the Supreme Court’s decision on campaign finance, I decided to look for a silver lining.

I thought how — if speech is the same as money — I might improve my life, since I’m really good at speaking. So I did a little experiment here in Northampton to find out how that might work in the marketplace.

I went to River Valley Market and filled my shopping cart. At the cash register, I asked the check-out person, “How much speech do I owe you for the contents of this cart?” He looked puzzled. So I explained to him that the Supreme Court has established that money is speech and that there’s no limit to the amount of speech I can spend wherever I want to spend it. He called the manager, who informed me that the food co-op doesn’t accept speech for the purchase of food.

I’m not ordinarily the sort of person who gives up easily, so I went to Stop & Shop and tried the experiment again. The same thing happened. Undeterred, I visited Serio’s and tried again. It seemed that nobody there had heard the news that speech is money.

I wandered down Main Street reciting Shakespeare sonnets, hoping to feel my pockets begin to bulge with some new-found money from all that lovely speech. Nothing happened. I tried to exchange some Tennyson for lunch at Viva Fresh Pasta, but apparently the folks there hadn’t heard the news either. And nobody at the Florence Savings Bank was willing to let me deposit some Keats’ odes, not even for a roll of quarters so I could do my laundry. My experiment failed to convince me or anyone else I spoke to in Northampton that speech is money. Obviously John Roberts understands something we don’t.

Kate Collins

Northampton