Wednesday April 19, 2006
We accept billboards as part of our natural landscape, right? But think about it – these objects serve no purpose other then to block whatever’s behind them in the service of whatever crass message the marketers want you to see. This is not about being anti-advertising, much advertising contributes positively to our society. Magazines would be impossible with ads, and much of the internet would be behind various paywalls. Billboards are different, though, because they occupy real space: the space we all have to share, and they divide it up in a way that is unfair to real stuff. This goes even if what’s behind the billboard is an ugly building, or nothing but sky.
Now, nobody’s advocating getting rid of all the billboards overnight; heck, that might be impossible. But we as a community should be thinking about billboard reduction. (Years ago, I read a great essay that lays out all these arguments I haven’t been able to find it on the internet, but if I do, I’ll add the link here.) Update, March, 2009: How to look at billboards.
In any case, our great state legislators are taking the opposite view — not that billboards should be taken down so we can see the trees, but that trees should be cut down so we can see the billboards! Is it just me, or is it more obvious every single day that political contributions run the government, rather then a commitment to constituents? Can we please get some campaign contribution reform going, to at least cool some of this crap off? (See also Free Culture, and the harm caused to our culture by endless copyright extensions which benefit 2% of copyright holders at the expense of a potential blossoming of new creativity.)
In other news, the legislature is pushing no less then 26 bills that would curb the rights of sex offenders. Now, I’m no champion of child molesters, but there is quite a bit of evidence that most of these laws would do no good, and cause burdens on those who would have to try to enfoce them. It’s time to re-examine some of the arguments we looked at before. Is our state legislature doing anything particularly worthwhile? Maybe it’s time for them to come home.
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