By now you're probably familiar with Roger Pion, the Newport farmer who went all HULK SMASH on seven Orleans County Sheriff's Department vehicles last week. Pion, who was reportedly angry over a previous marijuana arrest, is now facing more than a dozen charges in connection with his tractor rampage.
But it's not all bad news for Pion — he's got the Internet on his side. Shortly after Pion's story hit the news, someone created a Facebook page called "Roger Pion, the magnificent," which has accumulated 1512 likes as of this writing. On that page you'll find some excellent works of Photoshop — Pion in his finest Ethan Allen get-up, his now-infamous tractor in progressively wilder situations, plus other takeoffs on popular online memes. That's right: Roger Pion is now an Internet folk hero.
But there's more to this page than jokes. The organizers have set up an online donation form to raise money for Pion's legal defense, which has raised over $800 as of this writing. Even Pion's defense attorney, David Sleigh, has used the page to appeal for contributions to the legal fund. And in addition to the Photoshop jobs, you'll find a photo album from the courthouse during Pion's arraignment.
To Pion's supporters, this isn't just a weird, only-in-Vermont story providing fodder for the news media. Pion is the everyman, doing what he needs to do to get by in modern America, pushing back when the boot of The Man is on his throat. He represents the resistance against law enforcement by those who think the cops more likely to harass and intimidate than protect and serve. This page is of the Occupy movement and the hacktivist group Anonymous just as it is of rural Vermont.
"This guy, is a fucking patriot of the 100th level with a +90 tractor of awesomeness. I salute you sir," reads one comment on the page. "Our founding fathers finally have something to be proud of. Toast to Roger, all across this land, who out of all the mice, acted like a real man," reads another.
Pion's support base is a not-insignificant coalition of farmers, anarchists, progressives, pot reform advocates, libertarians and many more seemingly-disparate groups. Once upon a time, a skirmish between a farmer and the cops in rural Vermont wouldn't make it beyond county lines. Now, it can become a cry for unity that reverberates globally.
And it can make for some pretty hilarious photo edits.