Green Room

Argument By Graffiti

posted at 12:40 am on July 27, 2010 by

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.

Doctor Zero: Year One now available from Amazon.com!

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You are very strong with written argument. A good political cartoon, a quip, or even the ruffian’s graffiti is just another form of expression. I therefore disagree with you.

trl on July 27, 2010 at 2:43 AM

You are very strong with written argument. A good political cartoon, a quip, or even the ruffian’s graffiti is just another form of expression. I therefore disagree with you.

trl on July 27, 2010 at 2:43 AM

You disagree with this?

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.

Zero is not advocating making graffiti illegal by the force of Gov’t. He’s simply explaining that those that wish to debate with such simplemindedness are, well, simple minded. It’s true, and it solves nothing.

uknowmorethanme on July 27, 2010 at 8:23 AM

Graffiti is usually an act of people with little, or no political power. Considering that the elites in Washington are totally out of touch with the american people; polls consistently show wide support for a strong closed border. Our so called representatives are not representing us. My Rep. Ed Pastor(AZ) refuses to have any public meetings, ignores phone calls and his staff is unable to answer questions about his positions. His Republican opponent is an immigration lawyer who, certainly wants open borders for job security. They are dictating to us. Until THAT changes, polite conversation solves nothing.

Jeff2161 on July 27, 2010 at 8:43 AM

Rude insults are unacceptable whether they’re hammered into tin, or spray-painted on a restroom wall.

Who was insulted ? Why was it rude ?
Think about it; County property was not damaged nor was public safety at risk. Most folks regularly driving that route probably never even noticed it. Are rude insults preferably spread through the media in blanket ad hominem accusations, polluting our public airwaves ?

Jeff2161 on July 27, 2010 at 8:54 AM

I must ask, are you also opposed to the signs California erects on I-10 saying the same thing ?

Jeff2161 on July 27, 2010 at 9:01 AM

I can’t stand those “recovery.gov” signs that are going up all over the place. It’s like they are rubbing serfdom in our faces. I keep wishing someone would find a way to replace the cutsie little logo with the “wreckovery.gov” version.

bitsy on July 27, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Sorry, Doc, I disagree with you as well. If the Left is free to express their views by any medium they choose, including what is supposed to be benign entertainment, then the Right has as much leeway. I don’t enjoy going to the movies and being assaulted with left wing propaganda. Thus, I refuse to see “Avatar” and other environmental screeds that preach Chicken Little philosophies about global warming and corporate greed. This is no different than whoever is putting up billboards with W’s picture on them saying, “Miss me yet?” I get a kick out of them, but I’m sure my friends on the Left are not amused. There are too many other instances of what passes for political “argument” (think Journolist and NAACP) that are truly offensive. The sign thing just doesn’t make the cut.

College Prof on July 27, 2010 at 10:27 AM

…from uknowmorethanme: You disagree with this?

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.

Zero is not advocating making graffiti illegal by the force of Gov’t. He’s simply explaining that those that wish to debate with such simplemindedness are, well, simple minded. It’s true, and it solves nothing…

I also prefer quality arguments. Many times however, poorer quality arguments with a touch of ridicule, sparse wording,(even when inaccurate or incomplete), seem to catch the interest or sway those who spend more time on the micro aspects of life, much to the dismay of the more well-read, worldly, or intellectual communicators. I have read more intelligence scratched on bathroom walls than by some MSM “educated” professionals in the papers.

trl on July 27, 2010 at 11:20 AM

I agree with your overall point, but I don’t agree that this rises to the level of vandalism or insult. Maybe I read you wrong, but it doesn’t sound like any public property was damaged. I don’t really see a significant difference between this and a garage sale sign. Sure, I don’t always liked to be reminded of politics when I’m doing something apolitical, but I’m a conservative who watches moves and TV. That’s not a choice I get to make.

Esthier on July 27, 2010 at 11:31 AM

I think we’re all tired of activists trying to ram forklifts into our brains, so they can raise our consciousness.

Brilliant wordsmithing, Dr. Zero!

Ace ODale on July 27, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Good idea. People should put up signs next to all the political signs. Any suggestions?

Illegal Alien Crime Zone

No Illegal Alien Dumping

PrezHussein on July 28, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Hell, Doc, those signs are real out here in SoCal.

Patrick S on July 28, 2010 at 12:53 PM

trl on July 27, 2010 at 11:20 AM

I agree with that.

uknowmorethanme on July 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Maybe I’m misinterpreting Doc’s post, but it seems like he wasn’t singling out the signs per se, just the idea that ANY type of “drive-by” shot from either side is something that is aggravating and irritating as there’s no real way to respond to it.

Like when I’m reading a review of a video game, and there’s a cheap shot at Palin in it even though it is completely unrelated to anything about the game or anything else in the article.

It’s one thing for a liberal director to make a liberal movie with some preachiness, it’s another to have a movie that is otherwise apolitical suddenly toss in a line insulting Bush or Regan, etc.

That doesn’t mean they should be stopped, everyone has the right to express themselves (as long as property isn’t damaged or other laws broken in the process) but a cheap shot is a cheap shot no matter who fires it.

DrAllecon on July 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM

I think there were other instances of this type of political expression on this continent some years ago. As I recall, it was eventually followed by armed conflict when those disgruntled souls came out into the open. Be careful what you ask for.

CC

CapedConservative on July 28, 2010 at 1:04 PM

I must ask, are you also opposed to the signs California erects on I-10 saying the same thing ?

Jeff2161 on July 27, 2010 at 9:01 AM

To be fair, those signs are paid for by our tax dollars IOUs, not only that, but what they really say is, “California Gov’t = Epic Fail.”

But I think Doc’s post goes hand in hand with these:
http://bigpeace.com/kschlichter/2010/07/20/coexist-you-first/
http://bigpeace.com/kschlichter/2010/07/27/annoying-leftist-bumperstickers-part-2-the-revenge/

uknowmorethanme on July 28, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Sorry, Doc, wrong for a myriad of reasons. But most of all because a sign like that has the power of humor, and humor is perhaps the best way to get a very importance message across. Why do you think it was removed so quickly?

keep the change on July 28, 2010 at 1:07 PM

I can object to attaching signs to county property without permission while approve of the spirit of pushback against the Obama regime’s open borders, let-the-illegals-stay-as-long-as-they-are-registered-Democrat wet dream.
I have to echo Jeff2161′s questions: Who was insulted and why was it rude?
For some reason, this story really rubbed you the wrong way. That’s OK, and your opinion is your opinion, but it sure isn’t mine. Your piece reads like you’re morphing into a whiner. Please don’t.

Extrafishy on July 28, 2010 at 1:13 PM

A very thoughtful argument but I disagree that these signs are an act of cowardice. I think in this situation the road signs were chosen for impact.

Dork B. on July 28, 2010 at 1:19 PM

I have read more intelligence scratched on bathroom walls…

Why did I suddenly think of Simon and Garfunkel when I read that? :)

txleadfoot00 on July 28, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Normally I agree with you, Doc, but you should save your contempt for the bad guys in this scenario, not people who post amusing signs.

disa on July 28, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Doc,
You missed the boat on this one. When your enemy is everywhere in pop culture and your message cannot get through you must use the enemies tools against them (as long as they aren’t clearly wrong or immoral)

I am not sure I’d classify the original Boston Tea Partiers as cowardly or stupid for political vandalism. Their enemy was unreachable by other means.

I may not like the method, but those sign makers are fighting a fight that will not always be fought with cogent and clear argument. As with arguing with a mule, sometimes a pole between the ears is needed to get their attention.

drewmesq on July 28, 2010 at 2:33 PM

These signs are by definition not vandalism or graffiti. Saying the person(s) who put them up is a coward is a real stretch. Maybe the local county or state has laws defining something like this as vandalism/gaffiti, but the purpose of said laws covering this act would be to discourage genuine acts of such behavior.

Big deal. Some smartlec spent his own money on some signs and bolted them to the pole. Love it or hate it, this is much ado about nothing IMHO.

JimP on July 28, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Doc, I have enormous respect for your writings, but on this one, I must disagree.

Graffiti is often an act of people with little, or no political influence.

When I was living in Europe over forty years ago, there were many places where the graffiti was political in content. As was explained to me by a French college student, if they expressed themselves publicly, the risk of jail was serious. Even more so in Spain. Same in Greece. Ditto Italy. The “elites” in power had no interest in-nor reason to- listen to those over whom they ruled.

these signs are an act of cowardice

Not always, they may also, sadly, be acts of desperation. “The people” have clamored for years for legitimate enforcement of immigration laws and border security. Being ignored by politicians has left many people with the thought that they have NO other outlet. The prospect of violence against anyone that doesn’t look like me is terrifying. But if what I read today is correct, New York is now allowing MEXICAN authorities permission to engage in law enforcement to protect MEXICAN citizens in NYC. I surely hope I misunderstood the story, but given the current administration, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it’s true.

oldleprechaun on July 28, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Respectully disagree.

I see such signs as an effective use of shock and sarcasm, in raising awareness – if not developing an argument further – of controversial issues. “Situational” Art, so to say, can be a useful tool on “our” side as well, if appropriately applied.

Lockstein13 on July 28, 2010 at 2:49 PM

Interesting.
There is no real argument here. This essay, the subtext of which is, If you communicate in a fashion I find unacceptable you are a Bad Man, (ad hominem) is as valid as Your spelling is in error, your grammar is poor, your vocabulary is limited, and the standard reply might be, yes, but I still thing I should be able to marry the color of my choice. :: ))
And friends regardless of what we think about individual Mexicans, I still say we need to confront Mexico, as well as the illegalbordercrossing jobstealers. Oh, and as an after thought everyone here knows it is illegal to ask a person about their possible nationality when hiring, right?
So what is the response to people who want to blame the businesses that hire jobstealing Mexicans?

Observation on July 28, 2010 at 3:02 PM

Addendum for Dr. Zero:

Consider the “word”: Socialism.
Just the word.

Then: consider that word at the bottom of a sign
depicting Obama as “The Joker.”

The power of political persuasion.

p.s. Naples are is nice. It would be an honor if you would touch base by anytime you’re up by the St. Pete beaches….

Lockstein13 on July 28, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Dr. Zero,

I’ve read most of what you wrote on here (and agree with it), but this one has me stumped.

My guess is that some of us are ill-unsuited for warfare of any kind, by temperament. An excess of sensitivity has its disadvantages. The most successful soldiers, by contrast, deal with the mental rigors of having to harm and kill enemies. Of course they feel it, but there is moral justification and a mental strength that goes with the physical.

As I’ve heard psychologists say, there are light and shadow sides to these things, and each personality style has its pluses and minuses.

Honestly, I am reluctant to say this, but fury over these signs reminds me of what liberals do to soldiers and cops. Disdain and legalistic micro-management are horrendous obstacles to our safety. Not in My Name is about the most despicable slogan in recent history. The consequences of this attitude are a disaster for society and our prospects for survival.

As the nation endures this critical phase, is it too much to ask to refrain from sticking shivs in the backs of our own guys, as they try to battle enemies within who want to drag us all to hell?

Feedie on July 29, 2010 at 4:16 AM