Argument By Graffiti
posted at 12:40 am on July 27, 2010 by Doctor Zero
The local news in my part of Florida is humming over a peculiar act of vandalism. At some point over the weekend, someone posted a set of well-made yellow street signs reading “Illegal Alien Crossing.” Identical signs were posted on either side of a pedestrian crossing, so drivers heading both ways would see them.
Of course, the signs were quickly removed by the county. One of the drivers who reported them said, “I drove by and did a double-take. At first, I thought I didn’t just read that. I’m very angry. They’re cowards. That’s what I think.” This is exactly right. People who attempt to distort serious debates with acts of political graffiti are cowards. In the age of the Internet, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in open and honest persuasion. Drive-by political arguments are the tool of weak-minded bullies who prefer unsuspecting audiences that can’t answer back. Rude insults are unacceptable whether they’re hammered into tin, or spray-painted on a restroom wall.
Argument by graffiti is distressingly common these days. It often takes the form of crude political slams mixed into movie reviews, sports columns, and other places where the reader is not expecting to be assaulted. It’s one thing to encounter political arguments when a pundit openly expresses the desire to examine the social impact of a pop-culture phenomenon, like The Dark Knight or Avatar. It’s another to get a load of propaganda in the face while enjoying ostensibly non-partisan entertainment. Since the Left dominates popular culture, conservative audiences become accustomed to stepping on these ideological land mines, but the sheer volume of it grows annoying when the Left makes one of its frequent shifts into crusader mode. 2011 is going to be an irritating year.
This kind of guerrilla sloganeering is only shocking when it’s not deployed in the service of liberal ideals. If an environmentalist group had modified some street signs to read “STOP Global Warming – Drive Less,” it would have been the same class of vandalism… but you’d have seen a lot less anger from the media and their man-on-the-street interviewees. There would probably be disclaimers that the message was worthy, but the method of communication showed a regrettable lack of judgment. It happens all the time, when the media report on green, animal rights, or socialist street theater.
Another local resident commenting on the “Illegal Alien Crossing” signs, herself an immigrant from Mexico, said “not everyone is illegal. It’s supposed to be democratic and freedom, but that’s not how it is.” This is a fine demonstration of the success of argument by graffiti from the other side. Opposition to illegal immigration, even when expressed in lowbrow terms, is not equivalent to xenophobia. Some imbecile putting up a couple of stupid prank signs hardly constitutes the negation of freedom and democracy… but that’s the kind of hyperbole deployed by the open-borders lobby, to shut down rational thought and debate on the issue. Their graffiti says allinsistence on border security is racist, enforcement of immigration law is hateful, and there is no difference between legal immigrants and illegal aliens. It’s spray-painted across the network news, and scribbled into pointless lawsuits designed to spend millions of taxpayer dollars stirring up racial paranoia.
Replacing reason and deliberation with provocative slogans and viral memes gets you a bloated government that manages to drown in debt without actually accomplishing anything. Smothering debate over health care, with mantras about how “no one should have to die because they don’t have insurance,” resulted in a horrific statist system that will bankrupt the country and kill people. Marxist battle cries about “making the rich pay their fair share” result in endless unemployment benefits paid to a swelling jobless population by picking the pockets of unborn children. Children’s programming becomes a clockwork orange of environmentalist propaganda… producing a generation that reaches for the illusion of “sustainable energy” as it totters over the precipice of environmentally disastrous, pre-industrial poverty.
I think we’re all tired of activists trying to ram forklifts into our brains, so they can raise our consciousness. Argument by graffiti is hollow and tedious, because it hides half of the problem, and provides none of the solution. None of the issues facing us will be resolved by cowards lurking in the shadows with sharpened insults clenched in their fists.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.
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