Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I'm giving up on Virginia.

If there is one thing I hate, it's the political sound bite (I used to be a political junkie, until it became clear that politics as practiced has too little policymaking and too much bloodthirsty tribalist cheerleading for "our team" at all costs). And my least favorite place for sound bites to be is on your car. I had this discussion with Will Baude during the whole "Support Our Troops" magnet kerfuffle. I am opposed to magnets, bumper stickers, and license plate holders that express political opinions. (Those which express mere affiliations are somehow less objectionable.) The reason is that the more opinionated and confrontational the sentiment, the more it acts as a challenge to to reader. What would normally be an invitation to debate (or, given the forcefulness and crude tone of many such stickers, a flung-down gauntlet) acts as a mere drive-by insult. The driver knows he is offending those who disagree, but he's interested only in making a fleeting assertion of enlightenment and then moving on. If the car is stationary, you're not likely to be inside it and thus not available to convince others. It's just stupid and tacky and does no good for civil discourse.

The only thing I hate more than bumper stickers is the multiplicity of state license plates with political messages. The endorsement of one political sentiment over others is clear (as Mr. Baude knows, I am no friend to government speech generally) and no matter how much the driver pays for the privilege of tooling around with a plate that affirms his own condensed dogma, I can't help but think that it's somehow improper for the state to allow some people to associate their side of an argument (if such radically oversimplified slogans can be called an argument) with the government and not others.

But who could have guessed that my hatred of anti-intellectual sloganeering, tacky car decorations, and the ever increasing madness of the Commonwealth of Virginia would come together in one perfect storm? Boing Boing has the next logical step here.
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