Friday, November 19, 2004

Litter Bugged

When I return to my car in a parking lot, I’ll often find advertisements, flyers, brochures, etc., stuck underneath the windshield wipers. The latest was an ad for Billy Graham’s upcoming performances in the L.A. area. As an individual car owner, what policy should I follow for these unsolicited pieces of trash? In general, I’m not a litterbug; I think people should clean up after themselves and keep public areas clean. But in this case, I make an exception. I refuse to bring the unwanted material into my vehicle, so I immediately throw it on the ground of the parking lot.

I believe my policy is the correct one. If parking lot owners don’t like the litter, they can (a) police their lots to stop the offenders, or (b) collect the litter and track down the perpetrators – after all, their locations and phone numbers are usually written right there. In the most recent instance, the obvious perpetrator was the Billy Graham Crusade. (Or one of its minions; but I say respondeat superior, baby.) Requiring innocent folk like me to dispose of unwanted trash lets the purveyors of trash impose costs on the rest of us, just like email spammers. I encourage my readers to adopt my policy and tell others to do the same.

A pointless addendum, relevant only because it relates to litter: When I visited Disney World many years ago, I noticed they had signs everywhere (mostly on trash cans) that said, “Put litter in its place.” According to Merriam-Webster, litter is “trash, wastepaper, or garbage lying scattered about.” So isn’t litter’s place, by definition, on the ground?


Loquitur Veritatem said...

Do you leave your shopping cart in a parking space or -- even worse -- in a traffic lane? Do you fail to stop at the stop sign or traffic light on the way out of the parking lot? I just want to know where you draw the line between littering as a form of "speech", discourtesy, and risking the lives of others. Observation leads me to believe that there's a high correlation between self-indulgence, discourtesy, and recklessness. It may be libertine, but it's not libertarian.

Glen Whitman said...

I always roll my shopping cart to the designated spot, and people who don't piss me off. And I stop at all stop signs and (red) stop lights. The purpose of my policy is not to "send a message," but to put incentives in the right place. The bad guy here isn't me, it's whoever put the trash on my car.

Gil said...


I disagree with your policy.

I agree that it's wrong of someone to impose a cost on you, but I think it's also wrong of you to transfer that cost to another innocent party. If it bugs you so much, figure out a way to impose a cost on the guilty organization yourself (call their toll-free number or place a false order, or something). Hopefully you can let them know that the reason they absorbed these costs was because of their bad advertising practices.

As for litter, it's trash that is currently out of place. You can put it in its place (a wastebasket), and then it won't be litter anymore. It was litter when you identified it and decided to take action. "Its place" clearly means the proper place for the stuff, not the place that qualifies it as litter.

Of the two possible interpretations of "Put litter in its place", one interprets "its place" as somewhere else where it can be put, while the other interprets it as the place where it already is; rendering the sign pointless. Which way should signs be read? Which way should the Second Amendment be read?

I know you were just having fun with it, but try to pick a sign that's actually wrong next time. :-)

Anonymous said...

Don't tell me that you too pick up cellphone calls and rock & roll radio in your mouth from your crowns and fillings? I'm a walking bandstand and it's driving me crazy though my shrink says that I'm technically not schizophrenic. Rap music is especially hard on the jaw and gives me a big headache. It seems to bother me less when I sing and dance along with the music but I can't carry a tune, have two left feet and people think I'm some kind of freaky weirdo high on LSD. I'm also angry that I'm forced to listen to some of the dullest conversations imaginable. "Honey, do you want me to bring home some groceries from the market?" "Yes, Mike and don't forget the hamburgers, hotdogs and buns for Sunday's BBQ." Mike and honey can shove those hotdogs you know where! Whom do I blame--the people making the trivial phone calls, the phone company, the radio stations, the dentist, Alexander Graham Bell? Damn, there it goes again; this time it's Usher rapping "Can U Git Wit It?" Usher, that's my problem, I can't git witout it. Somebody, please help me before I truly go insane!!

--Unwilling Antenna to the World

Anonymous said...

You've taken two swipes (this post & the previous one) at the activities of religious loonies. I applaude you heartily. But be wary, it is not a save activity to pursue vigorously in these sick times. Abortion doctors have been assasinated and prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O'hare disappeared from the face of earth under suspicious circumstance. And, don't forget Ayatolla Khomeini's fatwa (death sentence) given to Salmon Rusdie for writing the Satanic Verses. You need'nt worry though, your many fans will continue the counter-attack against the forces of darkness on your behalf in the comment's section. We want you to be safe in the halls of academia (and agoraphilia) and not fired upon by an angry sniper in the parking lot. Christmas is fast approaching; what size (bullet-proof) vest do you wear?

--Santa Claus' elf and bodyguard (yes, even Santa's not safe anymore!)

Anonymous said...

My my, where do you encounter these crazy religious loonies (other than on news and such)? Most of the religious people I've seen have been relatively peaceful. Although they did embarrass me a bit with all their 'Hallelujahs' and 'Amens' every 5 mins at the Billy Graham crusade (it's too bad that it's called 'Crusade'). For example; Announcer:"please take a seat." Woman: "Hallelujah!" Announcer: 'Jim Caveizel is here with his wife' Woman: "Amen, praise God!" --Gross!

Anyway, reading the above post, it got me thinking about the majority of religious people in the US and the political party they are affiliated with--the republicans. There seems to be 2 camps: 1) religous right 2) voters for tax purposes for businesses etc. I always thought it was a shame that those religious loonies ruined that party for these stupid non-political reasons.

But I also thought about what party Jesus would belong to if he were alive today and if he'd approve of any activities that are done 'in his name'. For the most part Jesus would be apolitical and I think modern churches should stay as such.

But if he were to pick a party, I think it would be the democratic party (mainly b/c of tolerance issues), contrary to how the religious right votes in this country. Somehow they think that voting republican is the moral thing to do. If the purpose of being religious or christian is to think "what would Jesus do? (as the famous sticker says)", I think they are seriously misguided. Because 1)Jesus would not have been judgemental and violent to gays and lesbians 2)He hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes and was tolerant, and he certainly would not have been telling people to condemn these folks nor blow up abortion clinics 3)He told the rich to help out the poor and needy. He preached charity and generosity at all levels.

He never lobbied for the gov't to place these religious laws in place and he preached everything was an individual's choice. In fact he was a bit of an anarchist if you ask me. He did not do well with the established order of the time (the sanherdrins--Jewish established order under the roman rule). He condemned them and did it often b/c of hypocricy. Although he did say to do the basic civic duty of paying taxes to Caesar.

With all things considered, I think it's too bad that christianity is ruled out by most rational thinking people b/c of these crazies. Because the religious right identifies with certain parties without really thinking about any of the issues -- to them it's just an identity (most people just want to belong or identify with something), I don't think the rational people want to identify with these stupidly religious people.

Supplemental funny (these people would be better off if they separated church and state in their voting decisions)

Btw, Billy Graham said he was a Democrat. I thought that was refreshing. I think it came as a shock to a lot of people, including the NBC interviewer.

Sorry Glen for this long post. =(


Glen Whitman said...

Interesting that people seem to have assumed this post was (another) swipe at religion. In fact, I really don't care who puts trash on my car -- I dislike it regardless. It just happened to be the Billy Graham Crusade the most recent time.

SK -- interesting questions about how Jesus would vote. I have some peculiar opinions on the subject, which I may post at a later time.

Saxdrop said...

"When someone hands you a flyer, it's like they're saying: 'here, you throw this away.'"
--Mitch Hedberg

Anonymous said...

Whenever someone leaves a flyer on my car, I get pissed off. I think I feel threatened; as if they had said, "We left a flyer this time, but we could have vandalized or broken into your car if we wanted to." Oh, all right, I've gone off the deep end... but if everyone was honest they would admit that the idea of some stranger doing something to their car without their knowledge or consent was at least a little icky.

Anyway, as far as throwing the flyer on the ground is concerned, why the heck not? Maybe it will give the store or shopping center a little incentive to keep flyer-posters away.

Anonymous said...

The "cost imposed" upon you is minimal, and well worth paying for the way it enables people to spread ideas to those who might not otherwise comes across them. If everytime you came to your care there was ten pieces of literature on it, then you might have a point and others would start to agree with you and something would be done. As it is know, the guy who uses the post that uses the terms self-indulgence, discourtesy, and recklessness in characterizing this sort of behavior seems closer to the mark. (We could also add "self-righteousness").

I am quite afraid of people like you -- it seems if you had your way everyplace would be private property and no one would be able to speak to anyone else about anything unless they gained the owner's permission. Yes, that is freedom all right!

Although, possibly, the owners would take up a position you have not even consiered. Instead of (a) or (b), above, they may implement (c): shooting people who dare to litter by throwing these pieces of literature onto the ground! Or, at least, banning them from using their property. For as long as the literature is not more than a piece or two usually, and relatively innocuous (and non commercial in its content), most people would probably approve of it.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your comment about litter. Litter is trash on the street or ground. Iy you are told to put litter in it's place, you're supposed to put your trash on the street or ground.