I found this in the October 2001 Harper's Index:
Holy Sir Percy Blakeney! The French have a sense of humor! I thought that their unseemly devotion to Jerry Lewis precluded having a recognizeable sense of humor, but it appears I was wrong. I was also suffering under the delusion that the French had better taste than Americans (except for that Jerry Lewis thing), but the fact that there were 6,000 nains de jardin to relocate belies that myth, too.
In 1997, about a year after the FLNJ first
struck, its ringleader was arrested and fined. For a while it looked like the oppressors had won the battle, but a just cause is not so easily put down. 1998 saw a mass suicide of gnomes (11 were found hanging by their necks from a bridge after having left a heartrending note: "When you read these few words we will no longer be part of your selfish world, where we serve merely as pretty decoration."). And in 2000, a horrific millennial 2000-gnome exhibit in Paris inspired the furtive freeing of 20.
Last year, 100 gnomes were found demonstrating in the center of a French roundabout, or traffic circle, and several months later, more than 70 sought sanctuary on the cathedral steps at Saint-Die.
Even more important than these continued French strikes, the movement has spread to England, Belgium, and (Holy Sydney Carton!) Missoula, Montana, where last summer six captives were spirited from a front porch after leaving a note from the "Missoula Gnome Liberation Front." A European Gnome Sanctuary has even sprung up in Barga, Italy. (Are you hearing the chorus from Les Mis about now?)
I hope all this has inspired you to take your indignation about the idiot-next-door's idea of art to the next level. Remember to lift from your knees and don't twist.