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September 13, 2005 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I need to research the copyright holders and original authors of a famous slogan...

You've all seen it: "It Will Be a Great Day When Our Schools Get all the Money They Need and the Air Force Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber" Who wrote it? Who owns it? How does one research it?
posted by rschram to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Short phrases and slogans are not eligible for federal copyright protection (U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 34). It might, however, be a trademark if it was used in commerce. You can search for registered trademarks at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.
posted by RichardP at 12:03 PM on September 13, 2005

It would appear to have originated with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1979. According to this source (search for "bomber"), the WILPF did copyright the phrase, but I think RichardP is right in that that is probably not the case.
posted by cerebus19 at 12:07 PM on September 13, 2005

From Food Not Bombs:
The seven young people that started Food Not Bombs were united by the events of May 24, 1980. On that sunny spring day, over 4,000 activists with the Coalition for Direct Action at Seabrook made an attempt to occupy the Seabrook Nuclear Power Generating Station with the intent of non-violently stopping construction by putting their bodies in front of the bulldozers. As affinity groups cut holes in the fence surrounding the construction site, clouds of stinging teargas filled the air. National Guard troops rushed through the fence, beating everyone they could. Helicopters hovered above as the activists struggled to occupy the site. The next day, Boston University law student Brian Feigenbaum (eventually another founding member of Food Not Bombs), was arrested for assaulting a police officer, allegedly hitting him with a grappling hook. Concerned about Brian's legal problems, a core group of about 30 activists formed to support his legal defense. Out of this effort grew the collective that started Food Not Bombs. Therefore, this attempted occupation of Seabrook on May 24, 1980 marks the beginning of the Food Not Bombs movement.

To raise money for Brain's legal defense, the collective set up literature tables and sold baked goods outside of Boston University and in Harvard Square, but sales were slow. An idea emerged that street theater might help. They had a poster that stated, "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." The group bought military uniforms at an army surplus store, set the poster next to their table and pretended to be generals trying to sell baked goods to buy a bomber. While they didn't sell more brownies and cookies, they did talk to many more people about Brian's case and the risks of nuclear power. Eventually, Brian's charges were dropped for lack of evidence and the collective had discovered a great way to organize.
It may not be the first, but it's an interesting story. You can purchase a 1979 printing of the the allegedly original poster, first run in 1975 and attributed to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:18 PM on September 13, 2005

The WILPF site itself claims authorship (scroll down). Note that they claim that it is the "image and logo" that were copyrighted in 1979, not the slogan itself.
posted by RichardP at 12:30 PM on September 13, 2005

O/T, but I gotta say: screw that phrase! It might be a wonderful day when America doesn't NEED a bomber because there is unlimited peace throughout the world, but the idea that schools should have unlimited funding AT THE EXPENSE OF the military is so completely preposterous that it's laughable -- except that there are, sadly, some people who honestly believe it.

/rant - sorry.
posted by davidmsc at 4:47 PM on September 13, 2005

So you are saying that the military should have unlimited funding at the expense of the public school system?
posted by Third at 4:51 PM on September 13, 2005

Actually, I read it totally differently and your comment confirms my suspicion that this slogan turns on the symbolism of bake sales.

The slogan doesn't say that public schools should have unlimited money, just "all that they need." And it doesn't say that such money should be drawn from the military, but that the "air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." The parallel being drawn between the two institutions is not financing rather but who has to hold bake sales. The bake sale is obviously being deployed here as a recognized symbol of a community coming together to work for the public good. It is meant to suggest, with delicious irony, that the military is contrary to the public good because it is so silly to think that someone would "hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." Schools should have more public money, and the military should have to sacrifice some small portion of its overwhelmingly large share of discretionary budgetary outlays, but the idea is that we know this to be true because people bake things for school fundraisers and they don't do that for the military.

Consider especially the source. A radical feminist antiwar organization that descends directly from Jane Addams (of Hull House).
posted by ~rschram at 6:10 PM on September 13, 2005

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