...a potent blend of Miss Manners and Batman

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bumper Sticker Philosophizers

Sometimes Voice of Society Man has to be the voice of Democracy, too. Let's take a look at those ubiquitous message-ribbons on the rear-ends of cars. Specifically, let's take a look at "Support Our Troops." It's not that I'm against the troops -- I'm not. I'm against the word "support."

Bill Gates and I are hoping that someone finds a cure for cancer, but he gives millions to universities, hospitals, and scientists, while I don't give those researchers penny one. On the other hand, Mr Gates has not contributed anything to the Unicycle Society of America, but I helped run their annual raffle and even donated some tee-shirts. I'm sure that Mr Gates isn't against unicyclists, but of the two of us, I'm the one who supports unicycling, while he's the one who supports cancer research.

Support also has to do with endorsement. I didn't help to fund Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign, and I didn't even go door-to-door canvasing for votes. But I was hoping he'd win, so in that loose sense, I could say that I supported Bloomberg in his run for mayor. More correctly, I would say that I was (and am) 'for' or 'in favor of' Bloomberg.

As to our men and women in Iraq, I admit that I haven't sent them any funds other than what the government has taken out of my meager taxes. I am against the war and have been from the start; I certainly don't think that American soldiers should be there. Therefore, I'm not 'in favor of' soldiers being in Iraq. Since I don't fund the war and don't endorse the war or our presence there, how could I possibly say that I 'support' the troups?

When I talk to someone with one of those yellow ribbons on the back of his car, I like to ask what 'support' means. I also like to remind the car owner that one of the pillars our country was the belief in free speech. Democracy doesn't doesn't have to do with blithely pasting a sticker on the back of a car -- that's what our govenment wants people to confuse for 'patriotism.' But that's not patriotism, because patriotism means supporting what our country was meant to be. True patriotism, unlike religion, does not involve blind faith.

Here is the bumper sticker that Voice of Society Man would like to see:

"I support your right not to support our troops." Now that would be democracy speaking from the back of a car.

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My pesky alter ego who will set you right if you break one of the unwritten rules of getting along