Can it really be? According to my own internal search, I haven't posted a Bumper Sticker Watch since this one in February! That simply cannot stand.
For those of you who weren't around for my Bumper Sticker Watches, I have an unhealthy fascination with religious and political messages on the bumpers of cars. While I keep my own car pure (save for the Autism Awareness magnetic ribbon, put there by my dear wife, who feeds us by working as a behavioral therapist with autistic children) I cannot help but admire those brave souls who bare their beliefs on the butt of their car.
So from time to time (but, evidently, not for a long time) I post an ode to some message that I see on a car. Sometime the ode is sincere, sometimes satirical. Remember, even in my most reverent moments my tongue is generally firmly pressed to my cheek.
Anyway, since I haven't posted on bumper stickers in so long, I simply couldn't resist telling you about this one.
Recognizing that I'm never again going to get above a basketball rim (for the record, I've dunked four times in my life, thank you) I've started playing tennis again. Tennis is a game that ages a little more gracefully. I'm also in charge of the cat litter in our house, which has alas been far too neglected this past week. I say alas particularly because the litter box is in the basement next to me office, so when its contents begin to, well, shall we say ripen, I notice. And, speaking of ripening, my bowl of cereal this morning reminded me that I either need to get less milk when I go to the grocery, or I need to drink a little more of it more quickly.
This created an interesting shopping list for me today:
1. One new can of tennis balls, since the balls I played with yesterday were over two years old.
2. One crate of cat litter - the litter box can't be changed without some fresh litter, and boy does it need to be changed.
3. One gallon of skim milk.
Where could I go to get all three of these items? Well, I could go to Wal Mart, but I've been boycotting them for most of my adult life. Of course, they haven't noticed yet, but I'm still holding out hope. What do you think: can one small family in Louisville, KY bring down a corporate giant? If we're joined by enough other families, yes we can!
So, I decided to go to Target. My mother tells me that, ethically speaking, Target isn't much better than Wal Mart (this is how, by the way, she justifies shopping at Wal Mart, not boycotting Target, but that's another story), but ethics aren't the only factor to consider. There's always aesthetics, and if Target takes over the world at least the world will look relatively pretty.
On my way to Target to pick up my three disparate items, a mid 90's, metallic blue Ford Ranger pick-up truck pulls in front of me. On the right side is a Bush-Cheney '04 bumper sticker. On the left is an metal Ichthus fish. (How many times have we seen those two together?!?) And in the middle? A large colorful bumper sticker, with white trim, which has a picture of a crawling Caucasian baby in a white cloth diaper, and text which reads:
DIAPERS ARE DISPOSABLE
BABIES ARE NOT
Will the anti-abortion movement ever grow tired of equating abortion with infanticide? I'll admit it, my moral intuition makes me very uncomfortable with the practice of abortion. For much of my life I have identified myself as pro-life, even though I am nominally pro-choice now (that is, I think that under certain limited circumstances abortions are morally permissible; and further I think that abortions, whether morally permissible or not, should remain in most cases legal, because to criminalize abortion would ultimately do more harm than good), but I've got to say that I am morally and intellectually offended by the fundamental dishonesty of conflating the killing of an unborn fetus with the murder of a little child.
But bumper sticker leave little room for subtlety or argument. They simply reduce complex ideas to manageable sound-bytes, just like every other politically propagating media in America at the moment. Is there, then, any wonder that political discourse is so polarized and uncharitable? Is there, then, any wonder that people are so willing to believe the worst about the people who disagree with them.
Pro-choice? You're nothing better than a baby killer! Why don't you just club kids like baby seals?
Pro-life? You wish women would go back to the only thing they're good at - popping out babies and fresh-cooked meals!
In favor of affirmative action or social welfare? Why do you hate hard work so much? What's your problem with a level playing field?
Opposed to affirmative action or social welfare? Why must you continually oppress and exploit minorities?
Liberal is, in our polarized political lexicon, becoming another word for communist. Conservative is becoming another word for fascist. And all because our ideas and beliefs, as represented by our talking points and bumper stickers, oppose nuance and complexity.
No one is completely right, and most people aren't completely wrong. Very, very few of us wake up in the morning trying to come up with the most effective way to really do some harm to our culture and the people in it. It's just that whenever we solve a problem new problems emerge, the unintended consequences of our "solutions." But bumper stickers like the one I saw today, so full of misplaced moral superiority, so full of intellectual and ethical dishonesty, stifle what should be a great debate in this country. Instead of opening up avenues of thoughtful communication, they shut them down, firing up the people who are "with us" while trying to shame or intimidate those "against us."
Maybe I don't like bumper stickers as much as I thought I did.
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