Dear Stamp Stampede :
This is an open letter to you, which will be simultaneously published in other media, including on our blog at www.moneygraffiti.com/wordpress.
Since we first heard about it, your proposed money-stamping campaign has interested us because prima facie, it would seem to be an extreme form of “defacement” of U.S. currency and we maintain a website that features thousands of examples of such “mutilated money.” We understand that you are stamping and encouraging other citizens to stamp U.S. banknotes with a variety of messages that look like this.
In June, 2012, when our blog began to track your progress, we invited comments from interested readers. Now, as a follow-up, we invite you to provide us with your own comments and any answers that we may publish to several questions related to the legality of your campaign.
How extensively have you explored the legal ramifications of encouraging people to imprint political messages on their money? Did you consult with any pertinent federal entities such as the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the U.S. Secret Service and/or the U.S. Department of Justice? If so, which ones, and is there any written correspondence between you that we may quote?
Equally important, have you done any research to prove that the bills that you ink so heavily will function in vending machines? Or, have you inquired of any banks whether or not they would reject such seriously “maimed” banknotes? If these bills are unusable in any everyday situations this would characterize them as unfit for circulation and therefore call into serious question the legality of your well-meaning protest.
We recognize that the issue your campaign addresses is one of vital importance to every American and we are sympathetic to that underlying goal. However, we do have strong misgivings about your tactics as regards imprinting money. For one, even if there were a legitimate legal basis for your decision to use currency as a medium of communication, the nearly universal public perception that “it’s illegal to write on money” will, in our opinion, prove detrimental to your cause and spark a negative backlash that paints it as merely “lunatic fringe” vandalism and radicalism.
Anything you can share with us to give a clearer perspective on the merits of your money-stamping project will be appreciated.