© Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

Dissent done right 2

[Back to Part 1]

I knew my kids would feel violated, angry, and afraid. Their own attitudes toward dissent are being tested and formed. So we did what we do. We talked it through.

I told them our sign had been taken from the yard. (At this point we hadn’t found it again.) Erin’s reaction was utter disbelief.

“Really?” she said. “Really?”


“Really? Cause sometimes you joke. Really?”

“Erin, jeez, yes, somebody took our sign!” Connor said. “It totally stinks!”

She looked at the floor. “Omigosh. I feel like I want to cry.” She looked up at me with a worried forehead. “So people in our neighborhood are mad at us?” I could see the scared siege mentality forming on her face.

“Now wait a minute. How many people took that sign? It was probably one person walking by last night. That’s not everybody.” I really wanted to nip the generalizing assumption in the bud and had an idea how I could. “You know who would really be mad about this? Mr. Ryan.” Ryan is a neighbor of ours, a wonderful, soft-spoken guy. “And he wants McCain to win. But he doesn’t want it by cheating.”

They agreed, and Erin’s face relaxed a bit.

“So what do you think we should do?” I asked. “Maybe we should just…you know…not have a sign?”

All three erupted in indignation at the thought of being silenced. Exxx-cellent. I checked the box for moral courage on my mental list.

“But if we put another one out, it might be taken again by this doofus. What should we do?”

They started brainstorming. Connor wanted to put a sign out again and stake it out all night from his window. Erin wanted to put a sign at the top of our 30-foot tree. Laney suggested putting Obama and McCain signs in our yard so everyone would be happy. Erin suggested getting 100 signs, “And every time he takes it, boop! We put another one out. Like The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins!”

They all laughed. Finally we decided to put it out every morning and take it in at dinnertime.

By the end we had achieved everything I was hoping for. They refused to be silenced; they were referring to one perp, not a silent army; they were using their own creativity to get around the problem; and they’d relaxed and moved on to other things. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Side note…

Becca continues to simmer about it. Last night she said, “I hate to say this, but can you picture Obama supporters doing something like that?” I resist this idea too. My knee jerks, and I say, “Oh, I’m sure Democrats do it, too.”

Then I Googled these four phrases and got these hit counts:

Obama sign vandalized“: 309 hits
Obama sign stolen“: 105 hits
McCain sign vandalized“: 6 hits
McCain sign stolen“: 4 hits

…and two of the McCain hits are from my own blogs. Also interesting: nearly all of the other McCain hits were during primary season.




This was written on Monday, 01. September 2008 at 07:52 and was filed under action, Atlanta, diversity, fear, Kerfuffles, My kids, Parenting. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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Comments »

  1. Your “signs vandalized/stolen” results from Google are interesting. I wonder what the results are for Obama or McCain books being moved/hidden in bookstores–one of my pet peeves–but I’m having trouble devising a workable search phrase.

    Comment: cognitive dissident – 01. September 2008 @ 9:13 am

  2. What’s the view in the Obama camp about McCain’s choice of running…uh, mate? From these here parts it looks like an own goal, dunnit?

    Comment: Theo – 01. September 2008 @ 12:54 pm

  3. Recent reader, enjoying your blog.

    I agree that these statistics are strong; however, you probably need to account for some statistical variation in the fact that there are a significant number more Obama bloggers than McCain bloggers. The moral majority seems to only be moral when it’s expedient.

    Comment: serialfish – 01. September 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  4. What’s the view in the Obama camp about McCain’s choice of running…uh, mate? From these here parts it looks like an own goal, dunnit?

    One would think so. And if it happened in the real word, yes, it would be. But since 9/11, Americans have lost their collective neocortices and are thinking with their midbrains. The Republican Party understands this and has become unparalleled in its ability to turn perceptions on their heads. They managed to make highly decorated war hero John Kerry (Democratic presidential candidate in ’04) look like a traitor. They favor war and capital punishment and STILL convince people they are “pro-life.”

    Give them 30 days, mark my words, and Sarah Palin will somehow appear to be Winston Churchill in an up-do. Not to everyone, but to the precise percentage of the constituency they need to win. It’s a science, and they are brilliant at it. I hope I’m wrong.

    Comment: Dale – 01. September 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  5. I wish I could get behind a candidate. They all just bum me out. My son and I have been watching some of the conventions, but really, I get disgusted and he gets bored. I really hope the next election is less bizarre.

    I did mention at a recent party that if you are on the pro-life side, Obama will save more lives in the long run with health care and education, and got pounced on by evangelicals who insist that increasing access to contraception increases the birth rate. How do you argue with that lack of logic?

    Anyway, I live the kids investing in a candidate and finding solutions to the sign issue. So cool! 🙂

    Comment: jessicalbm – 01. September 2008 @ 8:44 pm

  6. Give them 30 days, mark my words, and Sarah Palin will somehow appear to be Winston Churchill in an up-do.

    I’m sorry — did I say 30 days? I meant four.

    Sarah Palin’s fans are already comparing her to Margaret Thatcher. After John McCain finished speaking, I had a similar thought. Like him or not, agree with him or not, this self-described “imperfect servant” may just be the closest thing Americans have to our own Winston Churchill.
    Commentator Ruben Navarrette, Jr. on CNNPolitics.com, September 5, 2008

    Comment: Dale – 08. September 2008 @ 8:35 am

  7. I’m not a parent (and am unlikely to be for some time), and while I may not have the right to them at the moment, I have very strong views about education and child-rearing. To read that there really ARE parents out there who teach their children how to look at the world with an intelligent, compassionate, critical eye, is relieving beyond words. Granted, they (and I hope someday to say ‘we’) are sadly in the minority.. but to read your children’s reactions to what you’ve presented to them gives me a rare hope that maybe my own children won’t be adopting a complete hellhole of a world; that ignorance and bigotry and greed, while perhaps easier and certainly more prominent paths, can’t bring love to anyone, not themselves or their peers.

    It must be so difficult to be in America anywhere, let alone Texas, and bring your children up this way. Much kudos to you.

    Comment: joel – 15. September 2008 @ 8:11 pm

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