Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What's On Your Bumper?

Driving along the freeway yesterday, I noticed something new on the back-end of a Honda Civic. You know the little Christian fish symbol that many people have? It's called an Icthus. Anyhow, I've seen variations on this, including the versions that silently tackle the evolution/creation debate with the Darwinized fish, and the rebuttal version...the Icthus eating the Darwinized version.

But yesterday I saw one that was an Icthus with what appeared to be an "X" (as in X marks the spot) and a sword. I didn't know what to make of it. Is this a Christian pirate? Or, is this someone who feels like stabbing Christians in the fish? No clue, actually.

This trend bothers me. And I'm not simply talking about the Christian Icthus, but the whole bumper sticker wars that take place. It seems people honestly believe they can change the world by what they stick on their bumper. In the meantime, it is often disrespectful to others.

Granted, there are many uses of the bumper sticker. Some just try to lighten the mood by offering something humorous. Other times it is a declaration of a belief or personal philosophy. And there are those which are declaring something important, in the hope to cause people to consider their stance on an issue. Such uses don't bother me. Though, the whole political advertising use does bother me...but not because I care so much about which side you are voting on, but because as soon as the election is over, it is no longer applicable. Please take off the sticker declaring your support for Kerry or "W" (Bush) now, if you don't mind.

But it is those times when a bumper sticker is a mockery or attack on someone else. In no other context would such behavior be tolerated...yet, we can state openly with our cars what we wouldn't otherwise.

There was one, many years ago, that was popular. "Visualize World Peace." I was somewhat drawn to this, because it was something that caused you to think. And the outcome of that visualization may have been wildly different for each person. Regardless, it revealed something of the driver.

Then came the attack. "Visualize Whirled Peas." Perhaps funny, but after the initial humor wears off, it really is a slap in the face to those who came up with and proudly display the "Visualize World Peace" bumper sticker. I suppose it reveals something about the driver as well: bad taste. It is, in some passive-aggressive manner, a personal insult.

There are also those who can't seem to make up their mind about what they want to say. The entire backside of their car appears to be held together with every bumper sticker imaginable. I remember seeing one car that seemed to declare support for two completely opposing positions. I'm guessing they must have run out of duct tape or something.

So when did it become so acceptable to be controversial in the medium of bumpers? I'm not against controversy. Believe me. While I try to avoid it here on this blog, I could incite a riot pretty quickly if I wanted. But the bumper? Is there any evidence that anyone has ever convinced anyone else of anything via a bumper sticker? I doubt it. Yet, in a day and age where road rage can become deadly, I frankly would want to avoid anything that could upset a fellow driver, no matter how strongly I believe in a position.

I suppose it comes down to this: when I "visualize world peace", it doesn't include bumper stickers.


Penny said...

I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day that I hated. It was a play on WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) It said Who Would Jesus Bomb?

Who comes up with these things?

Faith said...

The only thing on my bumper is my son's football team decal and a lot of dust, lol.

julia said...

You could take the route my sister has and go around peeling them off, as she does with those ribbon things. Swear to god, she's done it. Now, I'm not a war supporter by any means, but peeling off someone's ribbon doo-hickey? A wee bit drastic, no?

Personally, I don't really care what people have on their bumpers. Some are funny, some are controversial, some are stupid. It's their car, they can do what they want with it. Although I gotta say, the take off on the Darwin fish, that has the fish with the words " 'n Chips" inside it makes me giggle like a school girl.

RyanBruner said...

I'm somewhat sick of the ribbons as well, actually. But they seem to be for everything, not just the war. Each color means some different cause, and I saw one car with four different ribbons on the back, each one for something different.

Your sister has it easy, though, julia, because I believe most of those ribbons are actually magnets.

faith: That's acceptable. The football team decal, that is. Well, the dust, too, come to think of it.

penny: I don't know who comes up with them, but to me, it is sad when our precious gift of free speech results in such things.

alau said...

Maybe the two opposing bumper stickers were a partnered pair who disagreed. I could imagine doing that with my husband.

I think as you get older though, the bumper sticker thing gets replaced by vanity license plates

RyanBruner said...


Hmm. Interesting thought...you might be right!

And, BTW, thanks for stopping by and visiting my humble blog.

art-sweet said...

I have to stick my neck out here:

I think "Who Would Jesus Bomb" is a very clever way of pointing out to people who aspire to live a Christ-like life, and yet support bombing that takes the life of innocent civilians, that perhaps Jesus wouldn't bomb anyone at all. And neither should we.

Not an abuse of free speech at all, IMHO.

Martha O'Connor said...

Our pastor actually has a Darwin fish on his car... FWIW.