Thursday, January 18, 2007

Reading between-the-lines


between-the-lines
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
What do you see when you read this sign? At first glance, it seems pretty straight forward. I've seen signs like this many times in the past. But, there are couple of words there that aren't usually on signs like this. Could it be because it's posted in my lily-white community?

12 comments:

julieunplugged said...

Are you freaking kidding me? "Some parts of our society (afraid to offend which parts?)"

That's absurd. Where was this taken?

Julie

brian said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who got the message. It was at the Shell station at Union Centre- right across from the Marriott.

Rick said...

I don't know - I've seen similar things, too, and maybe what you're seeing is there. But is there enough to infer what you think is being implied? I don't know.

brian said...

Rick,

Here's the thing... Never before when I've seen these signs have they made any mention of who is driving off. I read the sign to myself, leaving out the words "by part of our society". The sign still gets the message across, without what can be inferred as a back-handed slap at "part of our society".

I thought it'd be interesting to post this to see what other saw in the sign. I'm sure being a minority affects my view of it.

Peace,
Brian

TiaDavidandourLittleChickens said...

Don't they just mean the part that steals? And why should they be afraid to offend those who have robbed them? Not everyone (every part) steals but everyone has to be inconvenienced so mayn't it have been an innocent attempt on the part of the gas station owner to apologize to the "all" who have to pay the price for the "few", whomever they may be?

TiaDavidandourLittleChickens said...

Probably should add: (and this is all before coffee today so have mercy if it seems I'm just being dense). But I didn't read a color issue in this at all. We have signs just like this up in my town, a completely white, very appalachian county that definitely has a "part" of it's society that steals frequently. I only take it to mean some people steal and some people don't and I personally would have never thought it was referring to a "a part" divided by color.

brian said...

Tia, the really interesting thing is how many ways this sign can be read and how our own colored lenses (pardon the pun) will cause us to read different meanings into it. Being that I live in an area that is (very slowly) becoming more diverse and there is a lot of attention being paid recently to illegal immigrants, this sign caused me to pause. Given the fact that I've experience overt and covert racism over my 45 years, I'm sure I read something into the sign your average motorist in West Chester might not. The real question is what was the owner's intent? And, that, we'll never know.

I think the sign is questionable at best and the comment on society doesn't add anything constructive to the sign.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is very interesting.

Peace,
Brian

DMunro said...

Written in a sign, and considering the neighborhood it is posted in, it is indeed shocking. But I have to tell you: I hear not-very-thinly veiled comments like this coming out of peoples' mouths all the time. When I'm brave enough, I challenge. But at times, I just don't have the energy to fight. Sad.

julieunplugged said...

The reason this sign jumped out at me is that we have documented evidence in West Chester of intentional harassment of immigrants (exposed by Cinci Enquirer I think). So it's hard for me to think that this is directed merely at thieves. If so, why not say "Due to people who drive off without paying"? I find the idea of framing as a "part of our society" the potentially offending part.

Rick said...

Hi, Brian - being southern and white, I hope I see where the blinders are in me and around me to confront, too. So I'm not saying you're wrong. I guess I'm asking if those colored lenses work in ways that are bad on all sides of these kinda of issues? I wonder if it was a sign saying something like "Please join us in thanking a certain part of society that has given more financially and resourcefully than we could've hoped" - would there be the racial connotation in that message? Maybe so, I'm not sure.

brian said...

Rick,

Thanks for the comment. Normally, I don't run around looking for racism. And there is is nothing blatantly racist in this sign. It struck me as odd. There were a few words that could have easily been left out of the sign and the point as to why people have to now pay inside would have been just as clear. So, were those words deliberately inserted, were they subconsciously inserted or was it just an innocent thing? Who knows?

Given the things going on in our little community at the moment, the sign struck me as possibly racist or at least an "us versus them" kind of thing. It's been great getting others' reactions to it.

Peace,
Brian

Wordsmith said...

No, no, no! Perhaps you've all missed the point here. Methinks the creator of the sign was talking about "body parts." He was talking about arse holes, wasn't he? Okay, probably not. But he's one for sure. That's obviously the part of our society that he fulfills. On that, we can all agree. Right?