Thursday, October 12, 2006
For the price of a gumball...
Some signs you just know are going to last. This one, placed on a tree above a retaining wall in Hollywood, was seen by over a hundred thousand people per day for eight days before it was taken down. Think about that: a sign that took ten minutes to make and cost about a nickel was read over a million times.
Pretty much any one of you reading this could do the same: it'd probably take less than an hour. So could've any one of the hundreds of thousands of people who saw it. The person who took down the sign didn't replace it with one of their own, nor did anyone else. Pretty amazing when you think about it... and pretty sad too.
When I started freewayblogging in earnest, three years ago, I figured it wouldn't take more than fifty or a hundred well-placed signs for people to "get it": that once a few million people had seen that someone was putting up signs, at least a few of them would realize "Hey, I could do that too!"
Ironically, I think the mindset that keeps people from putting up signs is the same one that keeps them from taking mine down: "Not My Job." Maybe they're right.
For me though it seems obscene to remain silent in one of the few countries where you're allowed to speak out. To see the lives, treasure and reputation of my country squandered so shamelessly in an immoral war, to watch the President and Congress turn the United States of America into another stinking torture state without so much as a whimper from its citizens... to see all that and remain silent, to me is unconscionable. Especially knowing that I can reach a million and a half people for the price of a gumball.
A couple of weeks ago I was a guest on a right wing talk show in New Jersey. When the host brought up the notion that what I'm doing is illegal and amounted to nothing more than littering, I said that that would be up to the courts to decide, and that it might be difficult to argue that free speech is "litter" in a court of law, standing in front of the flag and all... too many people have given their lives for my right to "litter" for anyone to call it that.
I went on (borrowing from Edward Abbey) to say that you couldn't really litter a freeway anyway... that freeways are litter: huge, multi-ton slabs of concrete garbage, gigantic monuments to our stupidity and greed. I said as far as I was concerned, freeways were like a gun pointed to the heads of my grandchildren's grandchildren.
"So you're one of those people who thinks we shouldn't have cars at all... that we should just walk everywhere?"
"No - not quite... but lets put it this way: if we could bring back the men who founded this country... Washington, Jefferson and all them... if we could bring them back and show them a sign on a freeway... They'd say something would have to go alright, but it wouldn't be the sign."