July 20, 2004

Things that Make Me Go BOOOM!

Saw this lovely bon mot on the back of a car today:

Mission Nothing Accomplished
Defeat Bush

Ookay. Vote for who you want. Plaster Kerry/Edwards stickers all over your car. But please, for the love of God, spare me stupid nonsensical bullshit bumper sticker philosophy that you're displaying merely because you thought it sounded good (insert Beavis chuckle here) and you hate the Other Guy. Let me reiterate how much I hate sloganeering bumper stickers and EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS ONE right here, by reprinting a fevered rant from November 2002:

If Only I Were In Charge

Bumper stickers would be banned. I do not care who you voted for. I do not care what radio station you listen to, what bands you like, or what sci-fi convention you attended to get that dumbassed "do not meddle in the affairs of dragons" bumpersticker. You are merely a ship (or in this case, a car) passing me in the night. And no offense, but I really cannot be bothered to give a rat's ass about you or your life. So stop trying to suck me into your head via tiny rectangular soundbites of stupidity, particularly when said soundbites make my head explode and I have no recourse for my rage.

This morning I was stuck in traffic behind a 40 year old Toyota that seemed intent on violating every emissions standard EVER. Pasted to the back of this charming vehicle was a red bumper sticker with a heart motif and white writing which read, "Better a bleeding heart than none at all." Because I have a toddler in my car during morning drive time, I was unable to reply appropriately. However, my toddler can't read--and come to think of it, I have my doubts about the owner of the aforementioned maxim, but since this is about making me feel better, I shall vent anyway:

Listen to me, you tin-headed little shit. You are not my moral superior because you ooze emotion over every single example of unfairness on the planet. In fact, you are the opposite, because you obviously lack the judgement necessary to make the tough decisions which will result in material aid to the disadvantaged. I'm sure it makes you feel fabulous to wail, moan and gnash your teeth about environmental injustice while you drive the Pollution-mobile, but I don't see your ass biking to work every morning to spare us your greenhouse gases--the very ones that are now filling my vehicle. The fact that you have bought into the idea that empathy is an either/or enterprise doesn't fill me with optimism about your reasoning skills, either. Either a bleeding heart or none at all, eh? Ummm, no, you freaking moron. The application of logic to emotionally charged issues isn't easy, but it is necessary, and a little more effective than that glib slogan on sticky paper that appears to be holding your vehicle together. You suck.

And don't even start with the free speech crap. It's not free speech, it's guerilla speech. You feel perfectly safe in putting any ill-considered idea on the back of your car, secure in the knowledge that you will never be taken to task for your ideas while simultaneously inflicting them on a helpless audience. I cannot pass you in a traffic jam. I cannot change the channel on your bumper. My only escape from your stupidity is by staring into the sun, which isn't even up yet. You do not have the right to force me to listen to you, and yet you are.

Perhaps if you were required to put your phone number on all the bumper stickers you display, you would think twice about broadcasting your idiocies to the world.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at July 20, 2004 01:25 PM

How about yard signs?

Our neighbor up the street has one: "Redefeat Bush."

Posted by: Laura at July 20, 2004 01:27 PM

You think you feel bad...my wife has that exact MoveOn.Org bumper sticker on her (my) SUV. AND I HAVE TO DRIVE IT FROM TIME TO TIME.

What I need is a removeable sticker that says "Drive does not agree with the rest of the stickers on this car".

Posted by: robin at July 20, 2004 04:34 PM

I avoid bumperstickers due to my nasty gestures and mouthed words used in response to crappy driving by others. And, I'm not such a great driver myself. My daughter wants her school sticker on the car and I live in fear of a call in the night, "Hey, do you drive that Honda with the elementary school sticker? Who do you think you are giving me the bird for bad parallel parking?"

Posted by: Belle at July 20, 2004 05:13 PM

I don't use bumper stickers because I can't get them off my car without effort, and most of the time I'd rather sit on my ass and eat Cheetos. That said, nice snark, but I disagree with you completely about that particular sticker, since it's a response to those who call people "bleeding heart liberals," and I are one. I still think you're wonderful.

My favorite bumper sticker? Nuke the Gay Iranian Whales.

Posted by: Michael at July 20, 2004 06:28 PM

Funny you should mention that. I've been sitting on that exact sticker for about two weeks, trying to decide whether/where to affix it to my car. And now I probably won't put it on at all, knowing that there are people out there who will have this kind of violently unpleasant reaction to it. And not crazy people, or dumbasses, but bright, witty and occasionally charming people - BAW people!

I figure most people sticker their bumpers because they think that they're cool, and that more people should know about it. I was holding off on mine because I was hoping to develop a better reason. Here's the best I've got: it's an advertisement. Just as people are more likely to drink the cola that they see most often on television or billboards, some among the vast uninformed electorate will swing toward the candidate that buys the most of their attention. Bumper-sticker-sporters are just donating some ad space. (It is, of course, questionable whether this pliable sector of the vast uninformed electorate will vote, or should.) Under this theory, bumper stickers for political candidates may be making a calculated effort to make some small difference.

Of course (and more likely), they may be doing the same thing that people with stickers that say things like "question reality" are doing - selling their self-image. Which is kind of sad. BAW: why so upset? Would a "Bush/Cheney '04" sticker elicit the same reaction? What if it had said "Colgate: Whitens as it Cleans!"

Posted by: Lance McCord at July 20, 2004 07:46 PM

Here's Lautreamont on maxims, and it would probably extend to bumper stickers :

Youth intends sentimental lucubrations. Maturity begins to reason without confusion.
He was only feeling, he thinks. He used to let his sensations
wander: now he gives them a pilot. If I liken humanity to a woman,
I shall not expatiate upon her youth's being on the wane and the
approach of her middle-age. Her mind changes for the better. Her
ideal of poetry will change. Tragedies, poems, elegies will no longer
take precedence. The coolness of the maxim shall prevail!

Posted by: Ron Hardin at July 20, 2004 09:22 PM

Actually, now that I think about it, I do have a bumper sticker taped to my front door. It says "Defend America. Defeat Bush." It's not on my car, so I didn't think of it before.

The one I really hate is "My kid can beat up your honor student."

Posted by: Michael at July 20, 2004 10:52 PM

I can think of one real advantage to the bumper sticker deal. They give me a clue as to what kind of person is driving the vehicle so I know whether I am interested in associating with the driver.

Of course, this only works because my sons go to a small school and I know who drives what vehicles.

But after reading these posts, I think the bumper stickers should be stuck on the people themselves. Cut down on the amount of small talk needed to determine if the person is a loon.

Posted by: di at July 21, 2004 08:24 AM

Bush/Cheney, Kerry/Edwards--let me reiterate: I do NOT CARE enough about cars passing me in the night or their occupants to want to know anything about their lives, religious or political beliefs, hobbies, or cutesy rhyming soundbites. Period.

The duelling fish/Darwin/Truthfish eating Darwin magnets also drive me around the bend. I'm not gonna ponder what Jesus would do or drive on the highways, I don't care what prestigious school or college you or yours attend, what race car driver you lionize, and what your personal Calvin likes to make pee-pee on. Seriously, people, just STFU with the soundbites, already! Gah!

I hate billboards, too, so maybe my visceral reaction to bumper stickers fits in with that. I would like to spend my 20-30 minutes of drivetime without being bombarded by everyone else's opinions, and let's face it, when you put an opinion on a bumper sticker it isn't about making a cogent argument, it's a deliberate attempt to provoke--and not necessarily in a good way--a reaction. As I am provoked enough by other people's craptastic driving, lameass bumper stickers simply push me over the edge.

I wonder if that could be used as a road rage defense? "Sorry officer, but the font on that Evanescence bumper sticker just really pissed me off, and I was unable to control my urge to ram the car it was on."

But I'll let you bumper-stickery guys know if I plan on making road trips to your area, so you can plan your travels accordingly ;)

Posted by: BAW at July 21, 2004 08:50 AM

BAW, you really need to do a weekly column. I'd wager you could get it syndicted.

Posted by: Michael at July 21, 2004 11:50 AM

Michael -

Nothing would gladden my bitter, shriveled heart more. But alas, I don't think newspapers have slush piles for pithy sarcasm. More's the pity, because I for one would buy a paper with a "Daily Snark" feature.

Posted by: BAW at July 21, 2004 12:53 PM

I hate billboards too.

I hate sleazy billboard with mostly naked women advertizing for topless clubs and casinos. "Gentlemen, start my engines." GRRRR.

Posted by: Laura at July 21, 2004 01:07 PM

BAW, you can do it. Think "Erma Bombeck with a grenade launcher and a degree in Lit." There's a market out there.

Posted by: Michael at July 21, 2004 03:40 PM

What I don't get is duplicity of the masses. Why aren't people phoning their elected officials with complaints of mostly naked woman advertising casinos on billboards (or Calvin Klein ads or any of the hundreds of sexually explicit ads out there)? Yet, we have a ever so slight glimpse of Janet Jackson's nipple and the world is in an uproar. You can turn off the TV -- but you can't turn off the visual assault of billboards. I think of all the crap my daughter (only a couple of months younger than BAW's offspring) is exposed to on the *only* route to her daycare and it makes me mad and sad.

Posted by: Gwen at July 21, 2004 04:12 PM