Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bumper Sticker Personalities

Last weekend Rachel, Victoria and I were walking through downtown Decatur. We had gone down there for a big book fair and to visit a little independent bookstore that a friend recommended. While walking the streets Victoria pointed out all of the cars that had bumper stickers on them. Most of them were very political and since the little town we were in is right near a very liberal Atlanta University, Emory, many of the bumper stickers had liberal and left leaning statements on them.
We used to have several bumper stickers on our other truck and many of them were either climbing company stickers or for environmental organizations. One was just a couple of Grateful Dead dancing bears that we bought just because we like the bears, not necessarily because we liked The Dead.
Victoria asked a rather thought provoking question when we came to a little stand that sold even more bumper stickers. “I wonder if somebody who has a bunch of political bumper stickers is more likely to get up in your face about their opinions or does the fact that they have the bumper stickers act as some kind of release so they express their opinions passively without having to be rude about it?” This caused me to think about myself and also about the people I know who have a lot of political bumper stickers. I have a few friends and family members who use the back end out their car to tell everybody behind them in traffic their opinion on everything from birth control, to nuclear disarmament and even what band they think is cool. Just a survey of my friends is far to small a group to make any statistical model however, from my limited sampling I have found that my conservative friends are defiantly the type to “get in your face” about their opinions and my liberal friends, some who have their cars wallpapered in liberal bumper stickers, are more content to let the car be their method of expressing their opinion and be more reserved in person. Perhaps this is just an observational bias. True or not, many of my friends assume that I have more liberal views. Perhaps my liberal friends just don’t feel the need to defend their views around me but my conservative friends are trying to save me from my liberal ways.
We also discussed those who do not put bumper stickers on their car. Just because they don’t choose to use there vehicle's hind quarters to exercise their first amendment rights does not necessarily mean that they don’t have strong opinions on many issues. Perhaps they just believe, as Victoria does, that it’s not an appropriate venue to air these type of issues.
Lately I have refrained from putting bumper stickers on the truck, not because I think it would be in appropriate, but because my opinions on any given issue is far too deep and nuanced to be captured in a simple snappy quote to be read at a traffic light. Far too many of us get used to thinking in bumper sticker sized political snippets. Also my opinions on political issues change as new information comes in and as factors that affect them change. Even the bumper stickers that I like the most still don’t come close to expressing my complete political opinion.
So for now at least I’ll refrain form political bumper stickers, but don’t assume that this means I don’t have an opinion on politics, and if you have bumper stickers on your car I would enjoy discussing your views regarding them, but don’t assume that I agree or disagree with you until after you have heard my opinion straight from me.
ps. I almost bought this bumper sticker while we were down there. I'd have put it on my cube at work. My coworkers have started calling me this because I'm always the one changing the paper on the printer and complaining about the vast quantities of paper that we waste.
If you're interested in getting any bumper stickers for your car or cubicle has just about everything you can imagine.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:02 PM


    You are an even cooler neighbor than I thought!
    Love your blog.

    My favorite bumper sticker:

    "Don't assume I share your prejudices."