Signs of the times

It is actually pretty hard to find a story of people vandalizing McCain signs. In one of the few cases I have seen of anti-McCain vandalism, there is strong evidence that it was self inflicted by a crazy Republican who wanted to make it look like his house had been hit by Democrats. Meanwhile, the Pandora’s Box opened by McCain and Palin continues to pour out the kind of yahooistic trash that has been in charge of this country for too long.

Here is a small sampling of the news interspersed with a few videos.

North Fort Myers vandals destroy Obama sign

Vandals stole into the yard of a quiet North Fort Myers subdivision Friday night and destroyed the only “Obama in 08” campaign sign in a neighborhood peppered with McCain endorsements.

“It did not even last 24 hours in an upper class North Fort Myers neighborhood,” said homeowner Bonnie Cunard.

“The incident has been very tramautic for my daughters and me.”

Obama campaign signs vandalized in Barefoot Bay

A vandal spray-painted a couple of small but prominently placed Barack Obama campaign signs along the southbound lanes of U.S. 1 near the Barefoot Bay entrance.

An “Obama ’08” sign had the word “STOP” spray-painted across the top, while the word “ACORN” was sprayed across another sign that read “Have you had enough? Vote Democratic. We can do better.”

Death threat, vandalism hit ACORN after McCain comments

WASHINGTON — An ACORN community organizer received a death threat and the liberal activist group’s Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized Thursday, reflecting mounting tensions over its role in registering 1.3 million mostly poor and minority Americans to vote next month.

Attorneys for the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now were notifying the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division of the incidents, said Brian Kettenring, a Florida-based spokesman for the group.

Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain, have verbally attacked the group repeatedly in recent days,…

Vandal confesses

The student responsible for defacing around 200 copies of The Crimson White confessed to the Office of Judicial Affairs on Monday, UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said.

The vandalism was discovered on Oct. 14 after a student called in the incident, reporting three different stands in Mary Burke Hall contained headlines that were altered with a pen from “Obama fans rally at Gorgas,” to read “Obama fags rally at Gorgas.”

Sign vandals criticized

Last Friday we found that the Democratic campaign signs posted in front of our property had been vandalized, but only the ones containing Barrack Obama’s name. The Mark Warner and Tom Perriello signs were left intact. It seemed obvious that my vandal [s] was not anti-Democrat but anti-Obama. Being anti-Obama is a privilege guaranteed to all Americans by our constitution. Vandalizing signs of any type on private property is not. Tearing up signs seems an immature form of political discourse, the kind that a poorly educated person would resort to when he or she could not articulate why they thought Obama was not the better candidate for the presidency.

Driving on towards Appomattox, I passed some more Obama signs. These had the letters “KKK” spray painted on them, a quite different form of vandalism. The people who would indulge in this form of political speech would be those who were not capable of persuading anybody through reason. So, they revert to the threat of violence implied by the letters KKK.

Political signs bring threats in Villa Park

Two supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama found handwritten death threats in their mailboxes Thursday and reported them to Villa Park police.

A 74-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man with Obama signs in their front yards near the 600 block of South Villa Avenue received similar letters that had a Villa Park Village Hall return address. “Get the Obama signs off your property–now,” the letter reads. “Failure to obey this order will result in the immediate death of all family members.” Both residents said they will not remove their signs, though the man, who had voted Republican for 25 years before switching parties this year, said his wife is worried about letting their 7-year-old son play alone outside.

Partisan voters are turning to crimes

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Barry Boriskie has visited the Travis County Democratic headquarters four times. That is because his Obama signs have been stolen three times from his front yard.

“I hope he gets caught,” said Boriskie. “He’s doing it all over the place. As a matter of fact, he took them all from down the street this time too.”

Catching the thief may not be too far fetched. Just feet away from where the culprit’s car left skid marks on the front lawn is one of Boriskie’s two security cameras, which was rolling at 11:30 p.m. on Monday.

“I knew he was going to be back,” said Boriskie. “It took him four days to get back.”

The cameras caught the thief driving up to Boriskie’s front lawn, his door already open. The culprit grabbed the sign and struggled to get it free since it was attached to Boriskie’s steel cable.

“He was pulling it and pulling it, yanking it and yanking it and finally he took the sign off the wire itself and that’s all he got,” said Boriskie.


  1. #1 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 23, 2008

    Do you have a link to the reported McCain vandalism? I can’t find it from a quick google search and you don’t link to it here.

  2. #2 Becca
    October 23, 2008

    Ok, am I the only one who views ordinary sign stealing/tearing up to be orders of magnitude less worrisome than the KKK vandalism, which is in turn orders of magnitude less worrisome than any case a death threat is issued?

    I know you’re probably trying to make the point that this is occuring many places, but in conflating all these issues I don’t know whether to react to every sign threat like it’s a threat on a human life (an absurd proposition) or to react to every death threat like it’s some idiotic teenager being a chimp (probably accurate, but maybe slightly dangerous in the unknowable although small % that are something more).

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    October 23, 2008

    Becca, yes and no. There is obviously a different level of threat being displayed between the different actions, but this is all behavior situated along the same scale.

    Think of it as evidence of people who feel they have the right to remove what they don’t want to see. We know that the people who sent death threats and painted KKK on the sign are willing to at least threaten to go very far to remove what offends them. We don’t know how far the thieves are willing to go, but we do know they’re willing to take steps. That makes knowing how widespread they are pretty important.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    October 23, 2008

    Becca: No one is doubting or disputing your suggested hierarchy (or something like it). I totally agree that there are orders of magnitude difference between these sorts of things, though that was not what I was doing here with this blog post. This might be a case of “I didn’t write the blog post you were thinking of because … whatever…”

    All I did was a google search for “vandal” and “obama” and a google search for “Vandal” and “McCain”… and I found one vandalism of a McCain sign over the last seven days, and the above stories.

    The videos did not emerge from this search, and Joshua, the case of a Rep house being self-vandalized is a link somewhere among the videos (that I did not show). On YouTube. I did not include it because it is long and boring and not relevant.

  5. #5 Laura
    October 23, 2008

    My aunt and uncle have had 3 Obama signs stolen (one of which was attached with superglue to a heavy tree stump to deter theft) and one vandalized with the phrase “NO NIGS.” It’s very troubling and they feel less safe in their home. My aunt caught a guy pulled into her driveway trying to remove one sign and told him off. She gave his license plate number to the police but they said that since he hadn’t actually taken the sign (because she caught him first!) he hadn’t committed any crime.

  6. #6 uncle noel
    October 23, 2008

    My Obama sign was kicked down and stomped on(!) last weekend. I have four more (the replacement has remained for four days.)
    A friend in the most Republican part of Austin had a “Vote Democrat” sign stolen, but not the local politician’s sign right next to it – a Democrat who doesn’t advertise the fact.
    Ironically, someone wrote to my paper (Houston) that her McCain sign was stolen and “this says something about Obama supporters”.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    October 23, 2008

    Laura: The law is clear on this. Messing up an Obama sign is The American Thing to Do. Messing up a McCain/Palin sign, that would be terrorism.

  8. #8 Dave X
    October 23, 2008

    I had 5 Obama signs stolen or ripped down here in the VA-1 district (Late Jo Ann Davis, now Wittman). The first one lasted about a week, and then the rest didn’t even last 12 hours. After the first, I posted a note on the back pledging more donations of time and money to the Obama campaign, but that didn’t seem to stop them until I posted my “Dear Thief,” note on the front.

    About a block away from my house, an Obama sign was vandalized with a rebel cross.

    The Obama offices here are running out of signs due to all the vandalism, but, as in the OP, the white candidate signs seem to be untouched: Mark Warner and Bill Day signs stay up.

  9. #9 Brian X
    October 23, 2008

    This further confirms my suspicion that there will be significant post-election violence, probably mostly by white conservatives. And if US law enforcement’s past response to racial issues is any indication, the wrong people are going to get blamed for it.

  10. #10 uncle noel
    October 23, 2008

    I think there will be more dismay than violence – like when brainwashed N Koreans find out that Americans don’t really eat babies. What can they do in their gated communities, anyway?

  11. #11 anon
    October 23, 2008

    I think it’s naive to think that spray painting “KKK” on a sign on someone’s private property is “orders of magnitude less worrisome” than death threats. Implicit in invoking the KKK is invoking burning crosses, lynchings, and death threats.
    It’s implicit enough that a Black friend of mine is seriously considering staying home election day, and the day after (if Obama wins), because of racist graffiti appearing on her Obama sign. She’s old enough to remember the “bad old days” when graffiti and other “less worrisome” threats were followed up by action.

  12. #12 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 23, 2008

    There’s this as of yet unsubstantiated report about a mugger who got angry at someone who had a McCain sticker: . The police seem to be heavily emphasizing the unsubstantiated nature of the claim.

  13. #13 Brian X
    October 24, 2008

    uncle noel:

    The gated-community types have their heads shoved up their asses and want to keep it that way. It’s not them I’m worried about — it’s the remnants of the militia movement, the dominionist and white supremacist crowds that gave rise to people like Eric Rudolph and Tim McVeigh. The thing that scares me the most is that given the religious harrassment that is common in the military, quite a few of the newbies to the ranks will have had direct experience with guerilla tactics. Federal law enforcement needs to be keeping close tabs on people like that or we may see some of our cities turning into Belfast.

  14. #14 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 24, 2008

    And apparently the claimed attack on the McCain campaign worker is a hoax: . I’ll shut up now.

  15. #15 Bonnie C
    November 15, 2008


    I thank you for using the news clipping regarding the vandalism that was done to our Obama sign during the campaign. I am the mother of a talented and gifted teenager who participated in this campaign vigorously. As I am a local English teacher, I had the rewarding experience of teaching my own daughter last year. As a part of my class, she researched all the candidates, both Republican and Democratic, prior to the conventions. She latched on early to Barack Obama. She would frequently quote Obama on her myspace, long before many even knew of Obama. Not long before our sign incident, she attended a Biden rally with some of her friends. I was so excited to see her develop a morality and value system that was so positive and enlightened. She will vote in the next election, and so her participation in this one was crucial to her development.

    The incident of her Obama sign being vandalized shook her and our family to the bone. More than anything, it was the first incident in her life in which she felt victimized. The saddest indicator of our time is that she was victimized for her views. That is why I found it so important to respond to the attack in this manner. The easy retaliation would have been to destroy the McCain signs of my neighbors. Or, even worse, we could have hung our head in shame and shut up, as I am expecting those who destroyed our sign wished. Instead, we decided to make a simple, strong statement by replacing the ripped sign with our own.

    My daughter has matured greatly from this incident. She understands now that, sometimes, a more poignant point can be made by showing grace; so we thanked our vandals. We thanked them for showing their ignorance and hatred openly…for making our point for us. In our thank you, I believe we got our point across. Most importantly, in thanking our vandals, I taught my daughter that taking the road less traveled can make all the difference.

    Your inclusion of this article in your blog is so wonderful to us because it further proves to my daughter that, while we can’t change the world, we can try…little by little. Every little moment does count.

    The true sign of our times is the impact that all of this change, inspired by Obama, is truly trickling down to our youth.

    Thank you again, Bonnie