Thursday, March 31, 2011

Curse of the Meaningless Signs

These signs are all over the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach.

Ask anyone what they mean, and they'll say it means "No Cursing".  Right?  That's the essence most of us get from this city approved, "must-be-some-kind-of-official-law" sign. "Obscenity (the lightening bolt and number sign and stuff) is Prohibited in the Vicinity of this Sign (hence the big red slash)".  It's pretty easy to understand.  It wouldn't mean something else.  Cities don't purposely confuse people with nonsensical signs on street posts. Barring a few that confuse everybody on the DMV's test, signs should be universally understood by geniuses and morons alike.  

However, this sign has a "companion" sign that's posted nearby every now and there.  A reference sign.  It explains what the small round one means a little more in-depth.  Just in case you thought you could get away with something not addressed by the other one.  Just so the city officially covers everything they want the small one to imply.  

Got all that?  It starts off cordial, but then it tells you what you're supposed to do on your visit so "others" can enjoy it, too.  However it's rendered totally moot because what you, the people around you, an officer of the law, and a judge consider "obscene or vulgar language or gestures", "sexually explicit", "revealing", "inappropriate", or "behavior which is likely to intimidate, harass, or disrupt" is all different.  Keep in mind that these signs aren't posted in a preschool play area.  Or an area inhabited solely by sexual predators.  Or around the perimeter of a privately owned theme park.  They're in plain sight.  All over the main, public resort area of a living, breathing American city.  The biggest city in Virginia.  They're meant to scare you into speaking and behaving a certain way.  Don't be tricked.  You can say whatever you want. Curse as often as you like.  Curse as often as you can.  Curse right now!  Why?!

You're in the United States of America! 

In 1998, a guy fell out of a canoe in Michigan and began cursing.  A man, his wife, and two kids heard it.  He was given a $75 ticket and ordered to work four days in a child-care program. Ridiculous, huh?  Well, don't fret.  The conviction was thrown out and the law to blame for the whole mess was struck down.  Read all about it here.  The tide is turning against a cursing ban in Pennsylvania, too.   A cursing ban was struck down in North Carolina earlier this year. Those laws were on the books for ages, too.  Over a hundred years in one case.  The city of Virginia Beach isn't even 50 years old.  These signs didn't go up until the early 90s.

Cities can't dictate morals.  Signs don't control human behavior.  People shouldn't be fooled into thinking they can and do.  Therefore, the "No Cursing" signs at the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach must come down.  By Labor Day 2011.  If the signs remain where they are now - the City of Virginia Beach is formally acknowledging that the signs are for dumb people.  Hence, the city is firmly stating, without any protest, "the majority of people walking up and down Atlantic Avenue are so dumb that they need signs to remind them not to do anything that might be considered naughty.  And yes, dumb enough to believe that a cartoonish metal sign, affixed high up on a pole can dictate public decency."  You've got roughly 5 months to come up with a good plan.  Folks don't like being called "dumb". Especially dumb angry people.       

Most of us know how to act in public, right?  You have an inner voice that tells you when to stop short of burping something rude and hairy in somebody's face.  I hope so.  Even after a bathtub sized Brandy Alexander, you still have a loose idea of what can get you punched in the gut.  We all do.  Free thinking "No Cursing" sign supporters claim "Well, the signs are just a reminder to tipsy out-of-towners that tots are present and they should watch their bawdy language" and "Atlantic Avenue is better off with the signs than it was...(leans in closer)... you know...(in a barely audible whisper)... the night Greekfest happened....(looks over shoulder)... shhhhhhhhhhhhh!"  Bullshit.  Stroll Atlantic Avenue, from 17th Street to 25th Street after 9 P.M. on any June, July, or August night.  You'll see blatant examples of filth and obscenity all around you.  T-shirts, for sale and being worn as attire, glamorizing binge drinking, sexism, and drug use in full, unavoidable view of any creature with eyes.  Tops so tight, shorts so short, and bikinis so flimsy that your appetite and all respect for humanity both fight it out to be lost first. Street preachers fill the air with a tense, thick mood of anger and fear making children cower in their strollers and everybody else needlessly embarrassed.   

Plus, when most people see the signs for the first time - what do they do?  This!

Ha!  I love it!  If you've done the same thing, go to the special facebook page I started just for you and add your picture.

Please contact me through my facebook page if you or anyone you know has been issued a ticket in Virginia Beach for cursing in public.  Not streaking the Boardwalk on acid, stealing a police horse, riding it to the top of Mt. Trashmore, and then cursing - just plain "cursing or using abusive language towards a person".  Oh, and not if you threatened to kill somebody. Death threats to anyone are just plain ill-advised in all situations.  Even wars.  Seek counseling to manage your rage and we hope your dark reality turns sunny in no time.

Share this blog with your pals.  I have more research to do,  links to click on, and, with your assistance, some hot leads to investigate - so please check back soon.  Take the images below and use them for your facebook profile picture.  Add them to your wall photos.  Do anything you want with 'em.  

Don't support a sign that has no basis in any law.  Don't support a sign that is meant to scare people into undefined "decent and moral" behavior.  Don't forget to flip it the bird and take a picture of it.  I wanna see hundreds of 'em.  Dammit!