Reading the Signs

Dianne St. Jean

It’s never hard to miss election time. Campaign signs pop up along boulevards; some are posted on the lawns of people who want it to be made known who they are supporting.

Some candidates even dress their vehicles with signs to increase their visibility in the eyes of the public, perhaps in the hope that their image is the one that is predominant in the mind of the voter when they go to fill out the ballot.

But there is something else about signs during election time that is more telling about “Joe Public” than about the candidate.

I’m referring to what has been obvious in the last week or so in our own community of Valemount regarding candidate signs, and that is the interference with those signs around the village.

On one hand, some have been defaced, while others have simply been snatched up and disappeared altogether.

There can only be two plausible explanations  – either it’s the work of pranksters, or the intent is more sinister and the violations are deliberate.

If it’s a prank, the likely culprits are kids, who usually don’t really intend any harm.  If it isn’t kids, then that raises a question of confidence in our community.

If the violations were deliberate, then obviously the interference with the candidate signs is a display of distaste or even downright animosity against those candidates. 

I find this disturbing. In my opinion, any adult citizen who would demonstrate that degree of lack of self-control or restraint simply because they dislike or disagree with a candidate is potentially more dangerous than an elected official. How does that type of person react if they end up hating their neighbour? Without trying to sound too dramatic – they even make TV shows of stuff like that, and what’s really scary is – the stories are based on real life incidents.

I don’t’ know about you, but I feel less secure and even threatened by a public that demonstrates that type of display of ‘disagreement.’ While the politicians who represent us are under the spotlight, “Joe Public” who happens to not be able to control his temper isn’t – so what happens if you or I happen to offend him – even unawares? How will that person respond or rather, retaliate?

That’s more of a concern to me than a candidate or politician who simply disagrees with me on some issue.

If we want to dissent on public matters or disagree with others, let us do so with at least some degree of dignity and civility. Even if we simply can’t stand another individual, whether it’s what they represent, how they dress, how they act, what they believe in… let us remember that there are always some, even in our own community, who may judge us in the same manner. That old cliché that you should treat others the way you want to be treated is relevant here. We can’t, or at least, should not live by a double standard.

And if, let’s say, the stealing of the signs was just a prank, then as a community we have a responsibility to teach our young people to do better, and to tell them that no prank, regardless of how innocent it may seem, goes unfelt. 

Reactions to a sign often say more than the sign itself.