by Lynn Mandaville
A week ago something happened to my car.
A violation of some sort.
A violation for which I am at a loss for an accurate word to describe.
For almost two years there has been a bumper sticker on my vehicle that read “Stop Trump.”
It’s a leftover from the 2020 election.
No dirty words, no personal slights against the man. A simple invective to stop Donald Trump. End of sentiment.
Now, on top of that sticker, some anonymous someone has placed another bumper sticker that reads “Re-elect the M’F***er, Trump 2024.”
The asterisks are not mine, they are part of the text of the new sticker.
I find I am absolutely outraged on a couple of levels by this breach of my freedom of speech and personal property rights.
First, this car does not belong to the public at large to publicize messages of their choosing. It is my car, my personal property. Just as I would be upset if someone painted Go Huskies (the mascot of our neighborhood Chandler, AZ, high school) on my windshield, I am unhappy that someone would affix a sticky piece of plastic to my bumper expressing an opinion that is not my own.
This probably qualifies as vandalism, and I should probably report it to our local police, despite the fact that it may seem trivial and would be impossible to prosecute. But I know that I won’t.
Vandalism aside, this is a suppression of my freedom of speech.
You may not agree with my opinion that Trump (still) needs to be stopped, but it is certainly not your place to obliterate that sentiment from my automobile, just as it would be illegal for you to remove a political yard sign from my lawn. To do so robs me of my First Amendment rights.
Additionally, to put a sticker with a thinly veiled vulgarity where it can be publicly viewed and assigned to me is… well, I don’t know what to call it. It puts an expletive, seemingly disguised with three asterisks, in a publicly offensive place, like tattooing a cuss word on my arm. Sure, it can be removed, but not easily, and it wouldn’t be pretty.
Also, it is my right and no one else’s, to use profanity that is ascribed to me. If I want to display particular language on my property, that is my right, not theirs. It is, if you will, the turd on the ice cream sundae that I didn’t ask for.
(See what I did there? I used the word “turd,” not someone else, and let it stand whereby you may judge me, not put there by an anonymous person. If I’m to be maligned by “my” language it better have been my choice to utter or print it, not the right of some cowardly vandal.)
If you get the impression that I’m pretty pissed off by this, you’re very perceptive.
Can you imagine if the shoe were on the other foot?
Can you imagine the outrage exhibited by a Republican if I were to put a bumper sticker on his or her car saying “Joe Biden is My Hero?” Or “I Stand With Science?”
That Republican would be seething just as I am right now.
You can bet that as soon as I discovered that new offering by the lazy Banksy of bumper stickers, I went right outside to cover the offensive blurb with a new bumper sticker.
The new one says, “Vote Like Your Rights Depend On It.”
I sure hope that’s universal enough to discourage further graffiti on my car.