It’s that time of the year when political signs dot the landscape, and some people feel inclined to take the signs of those with whom they disagree. Signs are already starting to disappear all over town. Surely, it’s not someone connected with the major parties, who would stoop to such thievery, while freedom of speech issues are being debated in most campaigns of those seeking election on November 2?
Now, I’m not talking about the signs that are “planted in a spot where it’s not supposed to be” as pointed out by Geri Nikolai in today’s Go section. As Ms Nikolai observed, “most of the signs are in a street right of way, that narrow strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street.”
That is, of course, unless you are campaigning in Machesney Park, where the sign-police measure from the center of the street, some 35 feet to the sign. Just make sure not to place your sign on a narrow street, where even if it’s in your supporter’s yard, the municipal powers that be can remove it.
It may be only petty larceny - the signs seldom cost the candidate more than a few bucks each, still it is someone else’s property, and the act of signlifting does deny that candidate their first amendment rights. It also turns into a big waste of time for the candidate’s supporters who stapled the signs to the wires, had to drive to the location to place the signs in very hard ground, due to lack of rain - but many uninformed people out there feel they’re entitled to steal signs – it’s just part of the campaign, right?
In the Huffington Post is the confession of a visiting professor at a local college, in ”Confessions of a lawn sign stealer,” which sums up at least what “he” was thinking.
Sure, I understand that stealing a sign will not change anyone’s mind, and, most likely, will only embolden McCain supporters’ disdain for liberals. Even so, yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.
Mature? No. Illegal? Yes. Satisfying? Definitely.
Political signlifting also is a violation of the first amendment rights of the people who have given the candidate permission to put the sign on their property, to display their support. But so what – doesn’t the ends justify the means?