Charles Darwin stood in front of the University of Georgia Arch Friday, waving a cane pointedly at passing buses. A few times, he wiped his brow, moving his bowler as he did so, and lifted his sign slightly above the stoop of his shoulders.
"Vote for me for Congress," Tim Denson, dressed as Charles Darwin, rasped above the rumble of engines. "Don't let Paul Broun make a monkey out of you."
Denson was one of several people who put together the first "Charles Darwin for Congress" protest. After UGA Plant Biologist Jim Leebens-Mack started a Facebook page encouraging voters to write in the famous scientist's name in protest of Republican 10th District U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, who has no Democratic oposition, Denson took up the cause.
"[The protest is] going well, but I'm afraid things are going to get worse if people like Representative Broun continue to have such an influence over science and technology in this country," he said.
Among nine other people, Denson handed out fliers and talked to passersby about Broun's statements on science and his position on the House of Representatives' Science, Space and Technology Committee.
In late September, during the 2012 Sportman's Banquet at the Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell Ga., Broun expressed the opinion that evolution, the big bang theory and embryology were "lies straight from the pit of hell."
The statements sparked harsh criticism from the science community, and laid grounds for the "Charles Darwin for Congress" protest movement. By encouraging voters to write in Darwin's name, the group hopes to send the message that voters in Broun's district disapprove of anti-science sentiment, in addition to showing other potential candidates that Broun could be defeated by a true contender.
"I've been frustrated with Paul Broun for ages, but with these latest statements we're hoping just to have someone else elected, or at least have him off the science committee," said Jenny Denson, a graphic designer and Tim's wife. "I hope it will at least draw attention the fact that his beliefs are incongruous to him being on the science committee."
Today's protest was not the first time Tim Denson confronted Paul Broun over his policies. The activist had also participated in the Occupy movement, where he confronted Broun.
"I have been angry with Paul Broun for a very long time," he said. "I even went up to Washington [D.C.] to talk to him. I went with Occupy Athens and Occupy Congress people. He was very polite, but he skirted all of our questions. We basically had to corner him to get him to talk to us."
Although the protest was quiet, passersby who stopped to talk with the group were encouraging. The group plans to host another event in Athens and Augusta on Nov. 2.
One man, a traveling anti-industrial prison and drug war activist who goes by Badger, offered the group a dollar while riding by.
"I'd like to donate to Mr. Darwin's campaign," he said. "I'd rather vote Darwin, who's been dead more than 100 years, than vote for that yahoo."
After pulling the donation out, Badger got onto his bike and looked at one of the flyers seriously.
"America's religious right is the world's Taliban," he said. "Half the world knows it, but we haven't figured it out yet."