Follow-up on “The Sign”

The first night night after attaching the letter to the political sign against meanness, the sign remained. Someone had pulled it out half way to steal this second sign, but thought better of it.

The second night the same. This time the sign wires were bent, but the sign remained.

Then we went away for two days. The sign was gone. Just the twisted wires remained.

Our friend in the cause brought us another replacement without asking. Actually, she brought two. She had been watching. We’re the first house in the neighborhood and prominent. And this isn’t any neighborhood. It is a mostly green-built conservancy full of kids and parks and porches behind small setbacks. Lots of salesmen and teachers raising kids. It is also the home of the Republican candidate for State Attorney General. A former U.S. District Attorney appointed by President Bush, he funded much of his compain by mortgaging his house.

We left the twisted wires and put in the new sign. Without the letter. Wife Robin had suggested all along that we just keep replacing the sign, and she had suggested — ok, she barred me — from retaliating with email to the neighborhood and letters to the editor. I wondered if the folks who had been told by their pastors to vote against gays would appreciate this example of turning the other cheek.

Anyway, the sign remained. No one stole the third sign. Yet bucking Democratic victories state-wide, our neighbor won his bid for Attorney General, and the people of the state of LaFollette voted to ammend the constitution so as to prohibit the state from ever granting couples rights to a group that Tuesday’s voters disapproved of.

We lost. But in my way I took a stand and I feel good about that. Our next Attorney General didn’t speak out in the neighborhood nor with the press for either private property or private love. But a few folks in the neighborhood have come out and told us about how they feel good about our little play. I feel that the wonderful thing about democracy is not that we each get to cast a vote. Mathematically, that just doesn’t matter. It is that in voting we have to decide. We can just do what we’re told to, but even that is a choice. I feel like we contributed to the inner decision process of a tiny-few people on both sides. That’s not a bad thing.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.

One Comment

  1. As Martin L. King Jr. said, the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

    Actually, I don’t know if I’m as sure of that arc as Dr. King was, but I try to live my life as if I believed it. I’ve written elsewhere on wetmachine of my own support for gender-blind marriage and equality under the law. I understand that some people cannot get past the idea that heterosexuality and “traditional marriage” are “threatened” by gender-neutral marriage laws, but I have faith that they will. I think all these anti-gay marriage bills and amendments to state constitutions are defensive actions by an old guard. I don’t like to see those mean-spirited votes that you resisted with your sign campaign — great story, by the way — but I think they’re castles made of sand. They won’t last.

Comments are closed