Picket me this?

Dear Candidates,

If part of your active campaigning involves strategically placing your yard signs every three feet along the median/embankment/easement etc... Please remember to collect said yard signs after the vote is over. Because, even if you won this time, I guarantee I will never ever give you my vote again, should you choose to run, if you leave that crap out there for someone else to clean up.


A Tree Hugger

Gads! These signs are everywhere! Huge groupings of them! I kind of want to start collecting them all and then dump them in the yards or office lobbies of said candidate.

True annoyance here.

Also, note to any protesters out there: Please make your cause (and any alternatives) clearly obvious. Otherwise, you are just out there illustrating an exercise in futility.

I take protesting seriously. I think in this day and age it is a lost art. I also think it should be reclaimed as a viable means of opining. Too many people think they can sign and circulate an on-line petition and thus be “Activists.” Newsflash: Activism is about putting yourself out there for your cause and taking risks.

On-line petitions do neither. (Plus, it's really super hard to validate the results.)

The other day a group of people in my city decided to protest the war. About 25 Protesters showed up at the appropriate downtown corner adjacent to city hall. Their signs were large and colourful.

So far so good right? Well, yes, but that was the extent of it.

See, their signs said things like, "WAR IS BAD" and "STOP KILLING CHILDREN."

Uh, Okay. I’m pretty sure the general public is in agreement on both those points.

I like to talk to protesters, and this group had actually managed to get my attention, so I approached them.

"What are you protesting?"

"The WAR!"

"Oh, yes, I see. But what exactly should we be doing to end it? Or, what alternative are you proposing?"


Okay, error number one: Do not have un-informed protesters. Every single person on a picket line or holding a sign at a demonstration should fully understand the group's cause, and the basic facts upon which their conclusions were founded.

Error number two: Offer an alternative to what you are protesting, or a focus of your demonstration. We can all agree that war is a horrific thing. So what do you want me to do about it? Is there a particular candidate you want me to vote for or against? A particular bill? A specific atrocity that has happened which the general public is not being made aware of? Tell me something I don't already know!

The Pro Life group puts on a good protest. I, personally, do not agree with their cause, but their efforts are commendable for the following reasons: They go to where the action is and they go with a mission. They hope to literally stop abortion, one fetus at a time, by championing their cause directly to women entering the clinic. They hope to stop the practice of abortion by protesting outside the offices of those doctors who perform them, thus embarrassing and bringing attention to the docs and also to the women frequenting the practice. They show up in full force all over Capital Hill (and the media) any time a bill concerning abortion is in action. They have the lingo down (always a "baby" never a "fetus") and their statistics straight. (Note I said "their" statistics, because in truth statistics do lie.)

As I said, I do not agree with their opinions, but I do respect their abilities.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have the group of divorced dads who gathered (last year) outside the courthouse to protest what they believed to be the unfair bias against dads having custody of the children. About 6 or 8 of them showed up and some of them had made signs. It was kind of a hot day, so within 30 minutes a few of them sat down in the shade. The others were simply standing on the sidewalk talking to each other. No one was holding his sign up. There were no women or children participating. Basically, a huge waste of time and, in fact, a very real demonstration of exactly why men do not they get custody: Because they lose interest quickly, become distracted easily and quit when it gets difficult.

Bad protest example number 2: A group of people lined up along 21st street (a medium traffic area) holding signs which clearly stated "Stop Big Oil" and "Take Back Control" and some general "Big Oil is Bad" red-circle-with-slash signage. Okay, fine. I had the opportunity to read many of the signs as I sat at a stop light, but not one of them told me how I could stop big oil, or who I should vote for or even why big oil is so bad.

So, another waste of time.

I'm all for a reviving the lost art of protesting. Tell me about a candlelight vigil and I'll Take Back the Night right along with you! Million Mom March? Sign me up! Gay Pride Parade? Sure! I'll wave to my friends in their cool convertibles and maybe even get my face painted in rainbow stripes.

But then you have to join me in my picket line in front of City Hall where I am holding a bonfire of all the freakin' election signage I have picked up. And I will be sure to point out how many and exactly who of our newly elected officials left this shit all over the city.