Everywhere there’s signs
Fucking up the scenery
Breaking my mind
- The Five Man Electric Band, 1970
With fan-free sporting events, and bars, movie theaters, and museums closed, entertaining oneself can be a problem these days. Home entertainment is OK up to a point…that point being cabin fever.
A good way to pass the time is to take a walk. I don’t mean a stroll around the block with the dog or the toddler, I mean a good 5K+ hike beyond your neighborhood. It’s good for you, if not undertaken in the heat of the day, and it’s free. They say the best things in life are free! Of course, another adage says you get what you pay for. Go figure.
At any rate, you are definitely getting exercise, and you don’t have to pony up for a treadmill or a gym membership. You can enjoy the natural world as well as the manmade world providing kaleidoscopic visual stimuli with every step. Unfortunately, visual pollution is a reality in many urban neighborhoods.
The most widespread irritant in my neighborhood is the yard sign. I don’t mean the “FOR SALE” sign or the occasional sign that a contractor puts on a front lawn when a house is getting a new roof or driveway. I refer to the political signs.
One election ends and another campaign begins. It seems as though there’s never a time of year totally free of political signs. Aside from the predictable quadrennial blitz of Presidential elections, I see signs for state, county, and city officeholders and wannabes…runoffs, primaries…some are hack politicians of long standing, some are total strangers. Politicians pay big bucks to advertise on TV, so why would anyone grant them free advertising on one’s front lawn? Unless of course said politician has done you a favor, and the sign is a form of reciprocity.
The signs used to disappear immediately after elections, but more recently I’ve noticed some people keep failed candidates’ signs up for weeks, even months, as if to say, my candidate should have won and your candidate didn’t deserve to win. My candidate is still better than your candidate, and I’m leaving my sign up even though the election is over. So there!
But now there is something new in political advertising on the home front. It’s not urging you to vote for any specific candidates in any specific races, but it is about as political as a yard sign can get. The multi-colored sign reads thusly:
In This House We Believe:
Black Lives Matter
Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
No Human Being Is Illegal
Science is Real
Love Is Love
Kindness Is Everything
Well, they may have left out a woke cause or two but there’s only so much you can fit on a yard sign. As it is, the sign is already bursting with text.
One-stop sloganeering is certainly efficient. And it minimizes your carbon footprint! Why put up six signs when you can convey a composite message on one? Of the aforementioned sentiments (let’s call them the Sacred Six-Pack), the only one I’ve ever seen as a solo sign is “Black Lives Matter.” These days that is the definite gold standard among slogan slingers, beloved of activists, politicians, athletes, corporations, Marxists, Hollywood grandstanders, limousine liberals, and sundry other tribes.
The other five slogans are not nearly so widespread as “Black Lives Matter,” but all six masquerade as conclusions when they should be talking points. They should be the starting line, not the finish line. In fact, they raise more questions than they answer.
Black Lives Matter – These three words seem to have supplanted “We shall overcome.” The phrase has been sanctified by the media to the point where it is now gospel. You’ve seen the vilification that results when some hapless humanist asserts that all lives matter. Of course, the wokest environmentalists think non-human life is just as precious as human life. So the question you have to ask yourself is…if you saw a man and a polar bear in distress and only had time to save one, which one would you save? Then again, what do we mean by “matter”? In a cosmic sense, everything matters. But what about socially? On George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some animals were more equal than others. Can we paraphrase that and say that all races matter but some races matter more than others?
Women’s Rights Are Human Rights – Well, we’ve dealt with this one before on this web site. What are women’s rights? How do they differ from men’s rights? Do men have rights that women don’t? Are men’s rights human rights? Are men even human? If so, do they have inhuman rights? At least as many as a polar bear?
No Human Being Is Illegal – If he stays in the country of his birth, I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, I don’t know any country that allows foreigners to just jaywalk across the border (suggested alternate slogan: No Human Being Is Foreign…Even if He Looks, Speaks, and Dresses Funny). Needless to say, illegals are not a problem in countries where no one wants to live. Consequently, it is possibly true that no human being is illegal in Bangladesh.
Science is Real – Science is a process, an abstraction. It is not real in a tangible sense, but many of the things we have learned from the scientific process have had effects on the real world, for better or worse. In the past, science has gotten many things wrong, but if the scientific process is working properly it should be self-correcting as new data accrue. But sometimes the process is corrupted. How? First of all, follow the money. How much is that research grant and who is paying for it? Second, consider how politics now pervades every aspect of society, and ask yourself if science is above the fray. For example, thanks to the scientific process, we know far more than we ever did about the differences between male and female brains, physiology, and psychology…but if you’re an honest scientist spreading the news, it’s kill-the-messenger time. (Maybe we should update that time-honored phrase to dox the messenger.)
Love Is Love – Gertrude Stein – who famously proclaimed that a rose is a rose is a rose – would doubtless agree. In truth, how could anyone disagree? But why bother to state the obvious? Is “Love Is Love” a mere tautology or is it some sort of philosophical palindrome? No, it’s a movement (Google it and read up on it) in favor of every conceivable kind of relationship between consenting adults. If you are a couple of suburban heterosexuals in a monogamous relationship, however, you will probably feel like the loneliest couple since Adam and Eve. Polymorphous perversity, you’ve come a long way since Freud discovered you.
Kindness Is Everything – No, it isn’t everything, but it is something. Certainly preferable to meanness. But what about kindness devoid of intelligence…or discernment…or common sense? More importantly, what do you do when kindness won’t cut it? When dealing with swine, do you cast your pearls before them (Jesus, of all people – Mr. Turn the Other Cheek – advised against it), or hit the No More Mr. Nice Guy button?
Given the sermonizing tone of the slogans, one might suspect that this six-fold creed was originally chiseled in stone and some modern-day lawgiver from the Oregon Chapter of the Church of Latter Day Insurrectionists escorted the holy tablets down the slopes of Mt. Hood to enlighten the great unwashed of Portlandia. No burning bush in Portland these days, unless there was some collateral damage after the arsonists did their thing.
I haven’t taken a survey, but I have no doubt that Sacred Six-Pack signs are more popular in “progressive” cities like Portland. In less enlightened cities, they would be visible only in “progressive” neighborhoods. I would not characterize my hometown as overly progressive, but it is trendy. If it’s trending, sooner or later the locals will climb on the bandwagon with the cool kids.
Numerous long walks in all directions from my house have taken me through various neighborhoods where progressive signage is very much in evidence. In fact, the higher the income level of the neighborhood, the more likely the signs are to appear. One can’t help but wonder if they aren’t some sort of status symbol… the homeowners’ way of saying they have a social conscience to go along with the Lexus and the BMW in the driveway.
I see the highest percentage of Sacred Six-Pack signs in a postwar neighborhood of large ranch homes on large lots, pleasingly graded and shaded, affluent and established. The next most popular venue is a historic district, where the neighborhood was laid out more than 100 years ago. The lots are smaller and the homes are older, but there are no cheap digs anywhere in this neighborhood. You might find a fixer-upper, but by the time you’ve fixed it up to comply with the historic district codes, you will be out plenty. I suspect some of the homeowners, though they may be sympathizers, hesitate to put a sign on their front lawns because it would clash with the overall vibe of the neighborhood. A Sacred Six-Pack sign in front of a home built during the administration of William Howard Taft just doesn’t look right.
On my street of modest middle class houses, the signs are rare. Notably, in the working-class neighborhoods a few blocks away, the Sacred Six-Pack is nowhere to be found. It appears the workers of the world have taken a back seat in the struggle for social justice. What would the Wobblies think?
Oh, it’s still acceptable to exhibit some concern for working folks, but it doesn’t quite mesh with identity politics since workers come in all ethnicities and both sexes. Under identity politics, blacks, browns, women, immigrants, and the sexually ambiguous/adventurous sit at the front of the bus while the workers sit towards the back…closer to the rear exit should it become necessary to kick them to the curb.
Truth to tell, a lot of working class folks are socially conservative. So it is no surprise that working stiffs do not display the Sacred Six-Pack. To do so would only invite ridicule from their salt-of-the-earthy neighbors. No rainbow flags either! Hard to believe in this enlightened day and age, but in some working class neighborhoods, it’s still OK to tell gay jokes!
I couldn’t help but wonder what’s behind all this mass-produced virtue signaling, and a little internet research has revealed that the Sacred Six-Pack sign was started by one Rose Morin of Albuquerque. She is with the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice (or just the P&J for those in the loop). Apparently, this is just one of a number of groups in the social justice matrix in Albuquerque; in the aggregate they are known as PAJOLA (Peace and Justice Organizations Linking Arms). Sounds more like something you’d buy in a health food store, but it is pronounceable, and that’s always a plus when it comes to acronyms.
If what I’ve written about the signs has whetted your appetite, rest assured you can order them on line. They are available at populist – pardon me, popular – prices. Some of the signs offer slightly different text (e.g., Immigrants and Refugees Welcome, or Women Are in Charge of Their Bodies), but they are basically variations on the same themes. Prices range from $4.99 to $39.99. If you prefer, you can get a banner instead of a yard sign. Just Google “In this house we believe,” take your pick, and place your order. Personally, if I were manufacturing the signs, I would market not a rectangular but a trapezoidal sign…you know, left-leaning?
Believe it or not, you can get a right-leaning (albeit rectangular) sign that reads: Health Care Is a Choice, All Lives Matter, Fetal Rights Are Human Rights, Immigration Is a Privilege, Real Science Is Never Settled, and God Is Love. Unless you live in one of the more remote realms of flyover country, I do not recommend you buy this sign. Otherwise, it’s likely a waste of money. If you put the sign in your front yard, there’s a good chance it won’t be there long. And if the “Love Is Love” crowd is feeling especially frisky, you could end up with trash dumped on your lawn, slashed tires, or smashed windows.
Actually, this brings into focus the practicality of having a Sacred Six-Pack sign on your property. Hell, it might even save your life one day. Consider the plight of the ancient Hebrews in Egypt.
In the Book of Exodus Egypt was suffering from a series of plagues during Moses’ heyday. The tenth plague featured Yahweh going door to door and killing all the first-born sons. The captive Hebrews, however, put a splotch of lamb’s blood above their doors so God would pass over them – hence the Jewish holiday on your calendar every spring even unto this day some 3,000 or so years later, and so memorably portrayed in The Ten Commandments by Cecil B. DeMille.
Today a Sacred Six-Pack sign conspicuously displayed on your property could save you some grief in case of an uprising of biblical proportions. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if insurance companies don’t start offering reduced premiums to homes and stores that adopt this strategy.
Returning home after a long hike, I must admit that my front yard is pretty blah. I need to do something about that, but the Sacred Six-Pack isn’t my cup of tea.
Anybody know where I can get a good deal on some pink flamingos?