The First Amendment Area was a good 800 yards from the courthouse, an imposing cage of chicken-wire and dangling zip-cuffs. The people inside the First Amendment area were weird. I mean, I include myself in that group. After all, I vacuformed my own Guy Fawkes mask mold. That is not the action of a sane woman. Shandra was weirder, though. She'd thought up the whole demonstration, socialed the everfuck out of the news, rallied a couple hundred weirdos to join her in the chicken-farm, shouting impotently at the courthouse, ringed by cops scarily into their Afghanistan-surplus riot-gear.
"Shandra, how is this supposed to work again?""Like this," she said, and powered up her—weird—device. It started life as a compact projector, the kind of thing you use for screening dull-ass presentations in school auditoriums. But then she'd added a hydrogen-cell that she wore in a backpack, and a homebrew steadicam rig that she strapped to her front, making her look like the world's most overburdened suicide bomber. I could tell that she was already freaking out the cops on the other side of the chicken wire, and they snapped into palpable alert when a beam of light emerged from the projector. I could only imagine how many tasers, sniper-rifles and gas-grenades were trained on her at that moment. But she didn't give any sign that she noticed or cared.Instead, she used both hands to adjust the keystoning and focus of the huge test-pattern she was now painting on the face of the courthouse, the picture a little faint in the weak light of a November. "It was considerate of them to put Kitty on trial on such a dark day," she muttered. I noticed that her nail-stencils—little blue atoms with different numbers of electrons—were chipped. She'd chewed down one thumbnail to the painful pink quick beneath. "Go," she said, and wrangled her tablet some. It was a burner, without a SIM. Shandra was one of those people who kept her phone in a faraday pouch until she wanted to make a call. The huge display flickered and then a picture of a middle-aged guy sitting in front a webcam appeared. It was captioned DMITRY SKLYAROV, THE FIRST PERSON JAILED UNDER THE DMCA. He did look Russian—not shiny tracksuit Russian, crazy chess-player Russian. He smiled. A pretty teenaged girl who was *very* Russian peeked over his shoulder, made Japanese vee-fingers, winking as he shooed her away. He spoke. There was no audio, but there were subtitles. HELLO. IT IS AN HONOR TO SPEAK TO YOU TODAY. "Mic check!" Shandra shouted. We hadn't gotten an amplification permit. They were like unicorn hairs or NYPD press-passes: rare, possibly imaginary. This People's Mic stuff was cornball, ten years old and so passé that no one even made fun of it anymore, but it had this going for it: everyone knew what it meant. "Mic check!" we hollered back. "Hello! It is an honor to speak to you today!" Once we'd repeated it in a top-of-voice roar that echoed up the skyscrapers and overpowered even the car horns, she tapped her tablet and DMITRY SKLYAROV unfroze to speak his next line. We did it again, for his whole speech, which was mercifully short. WHEN THE FBI ARRESTED ME IN 2001 FOR TELLING PEOPLE HOW TO UNLOCK THEIR EBOOKS PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT COPYRIGHT BUT IT WAS ABOUT FREE SPEECH THE RIGHT TO TELL PEOPLE HOW THEIR COMPUTERS WORK AS KITTY HAS SHOWN US TODAY This was pure Shandra: weird theater that you could literally spot from an airplane. Or a drone. Curious reporters meandered from the courthouse talk to us, because weird stuff is linkbait. And boy, did she have a demo for them.