Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sign Wars update

I received an email:
You wrote: "I always looked on sign damage as the unimpressive work of political campaign amateurs. Clearly others disagree."

Would you mind explaining what you mean by "others disagree"? I am in agreement with your thought on that it's opposition campaign followers who are doing the destruction/vandalism.
Interesting question.

Generally, I think there always a percentage of signs that get knocked over or punched in or taken due to any of random vandalism, the disgruntled and bored or special cases of metal illness or what have you or the casual bump that knocks down a poorly planted sign. That happens all the time in every election to one degree or another.

There's a big difference between those random acts and deliberate predation. That is uncommon, though not rare. It's not common enough so that when it happens, you notice it and vice versa. It's the damage that falls way outside the norm that's the tip-off. When a whole parkway disappears or all the 4x8s in an area are spray painted the same way, it's not an accident. Often, but not always, it's predation. If it happens a second time, that confirmations predation.

Search media reports and the stories pop up. Some are whining candidates making baseless accusations, no doubt. But there are also the cases documented by legal action or even just videos and photos of people caught in the act.

And I'm leaving aside the issue of fair comment versus vandalism. I know the "record of lying" case took in more issues than just simple vandalism. The line is not as thin as you would think. On some levels, some cases straddle that line between vandalism and free speech. A fundamental underpinning of civil disobedience is "do the crime, serve the time".

I still think sign damage is the unimpressive work of political campaign amateurs not necessarily attached to a campaign though they might be. It's an unusual campaign that tolerates it; some candidates set explicit derectives prohibiting it.

It's just foolish on a whole bunch of levels for all concerned.,of which the ethical and criminal problems are just two.

Campaigns need to keep their eye on the ball and remember that the goal is to get your point across to the voters. But as obvious as all that might be there are people who think otherwise; signs just don't self-destruct or evaporate.

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