Confessions of a Lawn Sign StealerEdit
"Confessions of a Lawn Sign Stealer" is an article that was posted to the Huffington Post on October 8, 2008 by Phil Busse. In the article, Busse explains how he stole several political signs from along Interstate 35. These were all John McCain signs. At the time, Busse was a visiting media studies professor at St. Olaf College. There was a large internet backlash due to the article. McCain himself was asked to comment on the article and the phenomenon of political sign stealing.
St. Olaf officials stated that the school did not in any way condone Busse's actions and referred the matter to the Rice Co. Sherrif's Department. Shortly after, Busse tendered his resignation with the St. Olaf.
You can find the original article here on the Huffinton Post.
The intended audience was for the average Huffington Post reader, anyone interested in media and politics, and the general public. Busse's motivation for his actions and writing about his crimes publically seem to stem from his own personal compulsions and his attempt to make a point about the prevalence of political sign stealing in America. In his article, Busse explains his personal motivation behind this:
- Today, national politics amounts to slick TV ads and choreographed stump speeches. A vote often feels like a raindrop in an ocean. But this illicit act of civil disobedience was something visceral. It was unscripted and raw expression. It was a chance to stop talking about theories and projections and get my hands dirty. Of course, I realized there was the very real chance my antics in rural Minnesota would be met with a shotgun, or at least a hockey dad tackling me. Mature? No. Illegal? Yes. Satisfying? Definitely.
Additionally, the Huffington Post is considered to be one of the largest political blogs on the internet and was named the 2nd best blog by Time Magazine in 2009. Obviously, the Huffington Post has a very large following and this was meant to stir controversy among average people and academic elites alike.
Major Cyberculture ThemesEdit
What does the source demonstrate about cyberculture? What are the major themes/ideas that this source typifies, demonstrates, or explains?
One of the most important themes that Busse's article demonstrates is the intersection between politics and cyberspace. Whether or not you approve of Busse's actions, he was able to very loudly point out an illegal method of political participation. In doing so, he has demonstrated how obscene political participation on the web can become. He also stated in his article how this same action was being recorded elsewhere on the web by video and online news reports. But nevertheless, Busse found it imperative to bring the obscenity to a new level by willingly broadcast crimes he had commited and bring national attention to the issue.
Additionally, his resignation from St. Olaf shows how our action on the Internet can have unseen profound effects on our lives. In the original article, he admits that his actions were a "crime" and "heinous," but never indicates any worry that he would find himself out of work in a month. At one point in the article he writes the following:
- And, yes, stealing campaign signs is a crime. But because campaign laws regulate that candidates cannot give out gifts or anything beyond "de minimis" value, a political lawn sign, by its very definition, has no value. Technically, according to the Minnesota sheriff's department, I could be charged with misdemeanor theft or trespassing.
And even though he admits that he was a professor at St. Olaf College at the time, he never voices concerns that his career might be in jeopardy. In fact, the tone of his article suggests that he did this in the name of media studies and political science.
I remember this actually happening as a Firstyear. I had a few close friends in the class and all of a sudden they had no professor and two months of the course left to complete. It was a conversation happening all over campus. It hits really close to home here at St. Olaf.
Also, it shows how people (even highly educated people) can develop very strange views of how the Internet should be used and how information should be distributed.