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Who doesn’t like a free hug?

September 10, 2008, 10:54 PM

So as far as I was concerned, International Free Hug Day was a resounding success, as free hugs were given to all who wanted them. This was an event that I organized with Anonymous as a flash raid, and so we gave our free hugs on the triangle across from the Founding Church of Scientology, in front of La Tomate. I was out there for three hours, having come straight from work, and Heidi joined in about halfway through. Check us out:

Heidi with my "FREE HUGS" sign  Me with my "FREE HUGS" sign

And it was a fairly subtle demonstration. We enturbulated those who we intended to enturbulate, while spreading happiness to all who chose to partake. We ultimately gave 54 hugs to 38 people. That breaks down to 40 hugs from me (two people double-hugged me), and 14 from Heidi (I also hugged all of her hugs). As you saw, our signs only said “FREE HUGS”. No references to Scientology. No “Ask me why I’m (not) wearing a mask” (Heidi and I don’t wear masks to flash raids, because we’ve both gotten letters). No references to Xenu.net. No nothing. Just huggage.

And despite our subtle message, we thoroughly pissed off the folks at the Founding Org. By coincidence, the Founding Org was giving free stress tests on the sidewalk in front of the Org when I set up station on the triangle. Thus on one side we had free stress tests where they were pushing Dianetics, and on the other side, we had free hugs. Guess who got more people. Me. That earned me a visit from Sue Taylor, president of the Founding Church of Scientology. She greeted me by name, and invited me out for coffee or something at some point to discuss Anonymous. I respectfully gave her a definite we’ll see. I have no intention of going out anywhere with Ms. Taylor, but who knows – maybe a few other Anons might want to take her up on that coffee offer. At first I found it slightly disconcerting that Ms. Taylor greeted me by name, but of course, the Org knows who I am, and I’m fairly confident that they’ve been to this Web site before (hi, Sylvia!). And as I’ve said before, they don’t scare me. In fact, their letters and such just make me want to enturbulate them even more.

All in all, though, I felt really good at the conclusion of this flash raid, which went from 5:30 to 8:30 on a Wednesday evening. After all, what are free hugs about, but spreading love and joy to the community? We made so many people feel so happy with our free hugs, and it made me feel so happy to make those people feel so happy. On average, we hugged slightly more than one person every five minutes, though most of those hugs occurred in the second and third hours as the rush hour crowd dispersed and the evening crowd came out. Random acts of kindness give a nice, warm fuzzy feeling to both the giver and the receiver. Such fun.

And of course, the best phrase of the night was a twist on the phrase that recently gained prominence due to its use in the presidential campaign. The original phrase was, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” Thus I said, “You can put lipstick on a cult, but it’s still a cult.”

Web site: The Free Hugs Campaign video

Song: I also think that this is the first flash raid we've had where no one Rickrolled the Org. We need to double-Rickroll them at the next raid to make up for it.

Quote: I think they may have had it right in Evan Almighty at the end of the movie, when God (played by Morgan Freeman) said, "The way you change the world is with small acts of random kindness." I think free hugs fit that description.