It didn't take long for KHOW talk-show host Peter Boyles' dream of putting up so-called birther billboards to come true.
In late August, he first began talking about erecting World Net Daily billboards reading "Where's the Birth Certificate?" -- a mantra of zealots who believe President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States, as required by the U.S. Constitution. By September 9, Phil Wolf had come forward to donate boards at I-70 and Kipling -- a must, since KHOW wouldn't pay for the placards owing to a decision made by the station's parent company, Clear Channel. And now, they're up, sharing their defiant message to both eastbound and westbound motorists. According to Boyles, "Phil says people blow their horns when they're driving past, and they stop and ask him about it. And he's gotten some phone calls -- people call him a racist and then hang up."
Boyles is used to that.
In fact, Boyles, a beyond-outspoken critic of current immigration policies, notes that so many people phone to accuse him of racism and then hang up that he's not sure if any of the latest batch have anything to do with the billboards. "Any time you raise questions on things like this, you'll get people who can't respond to the argument," he says. "So they react the way [Denver Post columnist Mike] Littwin and others do. They'll call you a wing nut or a racist or a xenophobe. It's a really great way to get out of talking about the fifteen or twenty really powerful questions this raises."
When non-believers are faced with such inquiries, Boyles goes on, they tend to use avoidance tactics for as long as they can before essentially dismissing the subject. As an example, he cites Michael Huttner of ProgressNow Colorado, who guested on his program last week. "I went through a list of these things, and by the end, all he could say is, 'It doesn't matter,'" Boyles maintains. "That's the bear trap you walk into."
As for people who agree with Boyles that Obama is hiding something, they've been effusive in their praise. "I've gotten calls and text messages telling me 'Congratulations,'" he points out, even though mainstream media outlets have largely ignored the story. "I expected that," he says. "None of those guys are paying attention, but that's okay. I'm comfortable with that."
For Boyles, the birth certificate story's appeal has everything to do with unanswered questions. "Maybe it turns out to be nothing, but maybe it turns out to be an amazing story," he says. "And I love a mystery. The Ramseys" -- meaning the death of JonBenét Ramsey, a previous Boyles obsession -- "was a great mystery, too. I'm not comparing her murder to this, but they're both great mysteries. And one of the things we know about history is, the truth always wills out."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.