Monday, October 13, 2008

An Open Letter - UPDATED

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Dear Sign-Stealer,

You know who you are. You're against something that numerous other people support. This galls you. I understand that. It's the nature of politics that people will frequently support something with which we disagree, and there is no federal, state, or local statute that demands that we like it. Can't ever legislate how we feel about things, no matter how loudly Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton may argue otherwise.

But I gotta tell you, Sign-Stealer: this business of yanking down and removing political signs that bother you is not helping your cause. If I were to catch one of my young daughters doing this with her sister, I would accuse her of throwing a temper tantrum and give her a time-out until she calms down and apologizes. Such things carry consequences, you know, and ought not to be tolerated.

I'm talking specifically about those signs in support of Proposition 8, but that really doesn't matter. You and people like you have done this with numerous other campaigns. You have done everything from spray-painting obscenities on signs or campaign headquarter windows, to keying cars that dare to sport bumper stickers that do not have your explicit approval. Expensive cars, I might add. Cars that will require new paint jobs (or worse, in some cases), and very likely cause the insurance rates of the victims to go up. Not to mention the cost of new tires to replace the ones you slashed.

The issues may be national or local. The candidates may be Democrat or Republican (or worse). It matters not. Dirty tricks like this are inexcusable and unacceptable.

Of course you don't care about such things. It's a "free country," right? You have a perfect right to express your political opinion in any way that gets the job done. Hey, all you did was steal a few signs. They annoyed you and they had to come down. And even if it wasn't you, personally, who did those things, you sure appreciate what they did. I mean, that stuff takes courage, you know?

Unfortunately, for all your careful thought and planning, the message folks are getting probably isn't quite the message you intended. This is what most of us think about what you're doing:
Hi. I'm a sign-stealer. Here's why I took them:

1. I'm right and you're wrong. I don't care how many of you support Prop 8. You're all just a bunch of lemmings following each other off of a cliff. I'm saving you from yourselves.

2. I'm also ignorant. All I know is that Prop 8 is bad, but please don't ask me to tell you why. You wouldn't listen. Anyway, it's too complicated to talk about, so I'll just steal the signs. That will tell you all you need to know.

3. I have no respect for property. Stealing signs isn't my day-job, after all. While I'm flipping burgers at McBurger Jr., I'm probably wolfing down fries without telling anyone. Hey, we give free refills to people who pay, so why shouldn't I have a drink now and then? Doesn't hurt anyone else, right?

4. I have the emotional maturity of a four-year old. A really disturbed four-year old. I'm the kid who always took the ball and bat and went home if I wasn't winning, even if it wasn't exactly my ball and bat.

5. I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I'm an anarchist. I have Che posters on my wall in the apartment I rent downtown with 27 other stoners. I see no reason why I should have to work for a living, but The Man wants money if I want a place to live. It bites, though, because I'd rather be out there impressing chicks with my skateboard tricks. Life is so unfair.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think it captures the essence of how we perceive people like you.

Of course, all this may be a tad harsh of me; I don't really know you, after all. In fact, for all I know you may even be a college student. You may actually believe that this is what counts as "political discourse" in this nation. You may somehow have convinced yourself that by stealing these signs (or defacing property, or showing us your command of sign language by using your middle finger) you will have altered the campaign in your favor.

If so, that makes you a bigger fool than the one I described above.

UPDATE: Mrs. Woody related this story to me this morning. Our Woodyettes take piano lessons from a very sweet young mom in our ward. She has younger kids, and one of them goes to pre-school every day. She generally gets back from dropping this child off just a few moments before Mrs. Woody arrives for the lesson. While chatting with her, she related to Mrs. Woody that she had just had a nasty experience with a lady who stopped to yell at her for putting a Prop 8 sign up on one of those corners that already has approximately 32 signs per square foot. Our piano teacher's habit lately has been to put the Prop 8 signs up early in the morning, then take them down at night, for obvious reasons. Anyway, while stopping to put up the sign this morning some lady pulled over for the express purpose of swearing at her with regards to Prop 8.

Mrs. Woody, who had just come that way, assured her that when she drove by there was no Prop 8 sign in evidence. Obvious (unsubstantiated yet inescapable) conclusion: the yeller had waited until our piano teacher friend had left, then returned and yanked the sign.

The tolerance is mounting.

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