Lawn sign lunacy a sad state of affairs

Bush adviser Karl Rove probably isn’t directing a covert campaign to lift signs.

This is the most heated presidential campaign in recent history. The undecideds of a few months ago are mostly decided. Many citizens have chosen to show their support by putting up a lawn sign or two.

But with passions so high, instances of puerile vandalism have gone up. Stealing lawn signs only causes levels of negativity to rise. Not only is it juvenile, it also proves ineffective. When lawn signs of one political opponent disappear, signs of the political opponent will soon disappear. This situation leaves neighbors angry and suspicious, with naked lawns and car-trunkfuls of signs. This is certainly not the outcome to be desired in a democracy that expounds the virtues of free speech.

The Kerry-Edwards campaign in Minnesota has tallied more than 600 incidents of pilfered or damaged lawn signs. In Duluth, Minn., President George W. Bush signs have been spray-painted with swastikas. In Eden Prairie, Minn., signs have been burned on lawns. Vandalism could prove costly. People caught defacing lawn signs could face fines of hundreds of dollars. Stealing campaign literature could lead to a misdemeanor offense, as Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, found out.

Many of the sign heists have been attributed to rowdy teens. In reaction, some victims have put up video cameras to catch the culprits in the act. lawn-sign thefts are mostly annoying. However, lawn-sign lunacy does contribute to a negative political atmosphere.

Although there have been instances of candidates themselves directing their staffs to steal signs, the majority of election crimes are carried out by over-exuberant supporters or teenagers. Bush political adviser Karl Rove probably isn’t directing a covert national campaign to steal signs.

With television and mailboxes already saturated with negative ads, the loss of lawn signs further negates the positive aspects of elections. Americans should be proud they have the right to voice support for whomever they want. Attempting to deny others that right is self-defeating and disheartening.