Our opinion: Visual Staccato

At what point does political speech become littering?

Perhaps when there are 37 signs for a single county commissioner candidate spread along less than a mile of straight-line highway.

Of course, they are all identical, and none of them proclaim more than the candidate’s name and the elective office he holds and covets for a new term. They are not unlike any of the hundreds of other campaign signs for county and other local offices scattered about the countryside. These are simply neatly and evenly spaced, a study in perspective from either end of the line.

The hundreds, perhaps thousands, of campaign signs are a tradition of sorts, like the lawn furniture that grows along the route of Warren’s Fourth of July Parade, now limited by city ordinance to only a day or two before the march itself. At least those serve as some convenience to parade-goers.

One wonders about the actual usefulness of the standard 2- by 3-foot campaign signs, however, since they provide little if any reason to vote for the candidate other than name recognition or the discovery that a neighbor is supporting a certain candidate. “Gee, look, Martha, the Joneses are backing (name here) for district justice.” “Wow, Fred, that’s really interesting.”

Still, we can only assume that the visual assault that takes place as you whiz by 37 identical signs at 40 or 45 miles per hour must be an attempt to resurrect the subliminal single-frame theater prompts you heard about back when theaters projected images from 70mm film. Remember the minor scandal? An image of a desert scene would flash on the screen so quickly as to pique your thirst and desire for another large soft drink, yet be so brief as to leave the viewer unaware he was being manipulated?

Now, imagine 20 or 30 commuter trips past 37 identical signs, flashing more than 1,000 times before that fateful day when Republicans and Democrats will choose their slates for the November general election. Your finger hovers over the list of candidates on the voting machine. You can’t help yourself. You’re in a trance. That sign, that name; it’s flashing, ever flashing in your mind…

Well, maybe not.