This evening as I walked along the empty street I came to the corner and to my delight I found a new stencil painted on the corner. You know the type, like the ones someone paints near gutter drains with little blue fishies that says “no dumping” or something responsible like that? Well these new stencils were painted at the corner on the handicapped ramps and the paint was fresh so I glanced up and down the street looking for furtive movement. I smelled the air for the toxic smell of spray pain. I listened for the chhhht-chhhht of paint leaving the can, but nothing reached my ears, only the relaxed evening sounds of the neighborhood.
I was greeted by friendly cat for the second time in two weeks. He sits in the middle of the sidewalk looking my way as I come walking along. Most other cats slink off into the shrubbery when I approach. They crouch low and eye me with extreme mistrust, but not friendly cat. Friendly cat is white with black and brown splotches and green eyes. He waits for me and then I scratch his head and call him a good cat and then I walk on. Friendly cat is pleased with this affirmation. He probably refers to me as the friendly guy and tells other cats how he reaffirms me by deigning to allow his head to be scratched. But I digress….
The stencils were painted in that bright orange paint that road crews use to mark where one guy should dig while six other guys watch him dig. You know the paint. It’s fluorescent. Anyway, the stencil said, “End their brain wash” and there was a silhouette of a handgun pointing at a television. Someone who shares my view of the world, I thought to myself. I took a second look up and down the street but merely got suspicious looks from a tiny middle aged spinster woman who was walking her dog.
I find that middle aged spinsters walking their dogs rarely greet you so I said hello to her just to test my thesis. She glanced suspiciously in my direction and then as quickly down at the sidewalk as she scurried past me towed by her urgent dog that no doubt had spotted friendly cat. I wanted to warn him that the spinster woman wasn’t a friendly gal. I don’t know why middle aged spinsters walking their dogs are so reticent to engage in such a superficial level of conversation on the sidewalk but they almost always are. They are supremely focused on their walking and collecting their dog’s scat in plastic bags that swing humidly from their bony hands as they walk. I digress…
I think that perhaps one of the reasons spinsters are so reluctant to talk to anyone on the sidewalk is the television. I’ve been thinking for years that the one-eyed monster is a social disease. I’m as afflicted as the rest of the world so I am not on my soapbox here. But truly, think about the average neighborhood and town you live in and then compare your life there with the violent crimes, terrible accidents, and all other manner of bloody and hideous events inflicting mankind on the television; how many of these actually happened in your neighborhood or to someone you know? Yet how careful and insular are we today because of what we see on TV? Think about the voluntary intrusion of laws and regulations we accept only because we see terrible things happening on the TV?
Take Sacramento County for example which recently enacted a law that requires all children 12 and under who are swimming in a public waterway to wear a life vest. Parents can be jailed for six months by failing to adhere to this law. Is a parentless child not placed more at risk than by wading in a lake? This law was enacted because some parents experienced a tragedy and lost a child to drowning. Losing a child to a drowning is horribly tragic, no doubt. No matter that these deaths could have been due to neglect or alcohol or simply the will of God. Is it a reasonable response to enact a “nanny law” that indicates no adult parent is capable of supervising their child around water?
Are we so brainwashed by television that we think individual accidents or incidents of violence constitute an epidemic and thereby require legislation? It seems so. It seems a natural human tendency to extrapolate television events to life in general. The common argument is that “if it saves one life…” Ok well, has every person’s liberty become that unimportant? Do we all really think that the government knows best about things like raising children? Don’t get me digressing…
If I stop and think about my neighborhood, the most significant things that have happened in my inner city neighborhood in the past four months are friendly cat greeting me and a dumpster fire that created an unpleasant smell on a Saturday morning.
I agree with the author of the orange stencil. Let’s kill all our televisions, but you go first.