Here's the situation: I live out in the country. My house shares a common driveway off the main road with three other households. One of the four of us is (literally) a hermit whom nobody ever sees or talks to, by his choice. The other three households have always been on best of terms, and we all share - or at least have up to this point - similar viewpoints on most things. I *know* they share mine and our other neighbors' political viewpoints, as we often trade Facebook posts, emails, etc on political topics.
In every election cycle in the past ten years since I've lived there, we've obtained and put up campaign signs along the road. Every single one. The neighbors closest to the road have always been supportive, and have in the past even procured the signs.
So with the general election approaching, I procured four yard signs for the four big candidates in our area and put them up in the same spot we've always put signs up before. A day later I noticed they were gone. When I got home, I had a terse email from the neighbor near the road saying "We removed the signs on the road as we do not want political signs in front of the house. We will leave them in front of the garage tomorrow if you want to come by to pick them up."
I wasn't sure how to respond, so I didn't for about two weeks (I've learned!). Frankly, it made me a little upset, since as I said in my eventual reply, "Since we've had signs out there for previous elections I figured it wouldn't be a problem. Can I know why you don't want political signs out there this time??
The answer I got was, "The concern with political signs at the end of the driveway is risk of vandalism or other retaliation from individuals opposed to the promoted candidates. Our house is most closely associated with those signs and is at greatest risk. Since the effect of roadside political signs is likely to be very small in this location, the risk of property damage outweighed their benefit.
For example, with the amount of hunting traffic on the road, the chance of some Obama-hating gun nut taking shots in our direction is too great to have signs inviting that behavior out there. Based on conversations I’ve had, and overheard, this is not a far-fetched concern in today’s political climate."
I was utterly stumped and angered. On several levels this really gets under my skin. First, my free speech rights are trumped by his fear? Second, is there any evidence that *any* of this kind of "gun nut" violence or vandalism *at all* (answer: none whatsoever). Third, I know I'm not going to change any hard right winger's vote with the signs. That's not the point (and he knows that).
My reply was "I'm very disappointed. I'll come get the signs and put them elsewhere."
I guess what gets me the most is how sad I feel for people who choose to live in such abject fear, especially fear of our neighbors. We're in a rural, mostly conservative area. That has *never*, not even once, to my knowledge ever caused even the slightest bit of friction between anyone in the area. We have wonderful neighbors even if we don't necessarily agree on every topic. Just like neighbors everywhere. By choosing to submit to their own unjustified fears, they've said (in so many words) that they don't trust the people who live around them. I guess I just can't live like that.
I haven't decided where to put the signs, but I *will* be putting them up in plain view someplace not too far from our respective houses.
I know this is all ego stuff (don't even bother with those replies please).