EDITORIAL: A lawn time coming

WHO LISTENS TO SPEECHES ANYMORE? Does anybody read bulk mail cards for (or against) candidates? Seen any Russian social media disinformation lately?

We’re too sophisticated to fall for that. We want hard evidence of how democracy is working here. And what better measurement of the enlightened, thoughtful, committed and neighborly exercise of our rights than the theft of lawn signs for political candidates?

How people react to such lawn signs is determined deep in the recesses of the human genome… at least some humans’ genome. For folks with the gene that leads them to steal the signs of others, its a seasonal thing, like the horns of deer.

To find a mate, all a lawn sign thief needs is enough stolen cardboard candidate signs to wallpaper his (her?) cozy den. And the metal frames of lawn signs make such lovely holiday decorations.

Now is what experts call the “high sign” season. It’s the time when campaign signs have reached maturity and are ready for picking. Like many field crops, certain varieties ripen earlier and are in greater demand. That’s what we’re seeing now.

The daylight harvest appears to have begun about a week ago in the Village of Chatham. Since then, we have had firsthand reports from sign “planters” in Gallatin and Copake and secondhand news of thefts in other communities. Lawn sign “pickers” from around the county are concentrating on this year’s favorite, the Biden-Harris Blue. We have yet to hear from planters of the Trump-Pence Red crop. Perhaps the climate was not right for that variety.

Many sign pickers prefer to pick signs at night when the sign planters are watching MSNBC or CNN, rather than daytime, when the sign planters are at work or reading The New York Times. Either way, pickers have to move quickly from one lawn to the next to find the ripest signs and still get home in time for Fox news.

Picking and defacing signs is mind-breaking work. Think about it. Not only are sign owners ungrateful when a hardworking picker tries to haul off a Biden-Harris Blue; sometimes the planters call the cops. There ought to be a law. In some places there is.

It might be petty larceny or it could be trespassing … charged against the poor picker who is only trying to reap signs he doesn’t want other people to read. Think what a service that is. Consider how much less thinking we’d all have to do if we let the lawn sign pickers determine what the public gets to read.

Sometimes children make mischief with signs for the fun of it. They might be hoping to score points with peers or impress a parent with political remarks uttered by elders. But it seems unlikely that kids are part of the problem. Why would any child want to mess with cardboard signs when their screens take them to the endless digital streams of YouTube.

Some people describe sign picking as a kind of hate speech. But that assigns too much power to what’s really vandalism and cowardice. If your lawn signs gets ripped off, would that change how you vote this fall?

The person who takes something of yours—your lawful sign—is trying to bully you, which is creepy and pathetic. That person is also confused. So, Hey Pickers! When you bully people and steal their stuff, you are motivating your victims to vote against your candidates. You may think you hate your neighbor or at least your neighbor’s signs. But what you’re feeling is envy and loss.

Our county is changing politically. The registration numbers show Democrats with a commanding lead in terms of enrollment: 18,144 to 12,688 for the GOP. That trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. You pickers need counseling, not signs.

Stealing signs is a sign of weakness not strength. Voting is the way citizens of a true democracy show their strength. Thanks, lawn pickers, for helping get out the vote.

Early voting starts October 24 at the Columbia County Office Building, 401 State Street, Hudson. If you need help or plan to vote by mail but haven’t applied for an absentee ballot, contact the Columbia County Board of Elections at 518-828-3115 or www.columbiacountyny.com/elections

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