Friday, January 19, 2007

My fair city

In the category of WTF?

Brian posted the following on his photoblog 365. Check it out and click on the photo to read what it says.

I'm in stunned silence. Just who could they be meaning to protect in that sign? Conversely, who are they hinting at? This is when Cincinnati feels claustrophobic to me.

8 comments:

Ampersand said...

Wow, that took me several reads to get it. I think I just automatically read it as boilerplate.

Seriously in the category of WTF!!

Ish said...

Maybe I'm just tired (its the tail end of a lock-in with 6-8th graders), but I'm not sure what's between the lines.

What's so WTF? Help me!

Ampersand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
julieunplugged said...

Ish, it says: by part of our society...

It doesn't say "certain individuals"

See the difference? Some segment of society is being impugned, not just crooks being singled out.

Rachel said...

Why couldn't crooks be considered a segment of society? If that was what the author was thinking, this sign might not mean anything other than, "Thanks to the lowlifes who drive off without paying, y'all are now gonna have to prepay." I don't think there's any way of knowing which segment of society the author intended without asking her or him for clarificaiton, but I'd tend to go with the segment most closely related to the issue at hand. The tendency to think of "groups" rather than individuals can be problematic, but on the other hand, what is a group if not a bunch of individuals related by some commonality? And the commonality expressed by context here seems to me most likely to be the commonality of driving off without paying. It's nebulous enough that I personally would hold off on a conclusion till I could get more information, though.

julieunplugged said...

The only reason I "jumped" to the conclusion I did is that I live in West Chester and we have documented evidence that the police (for instance) have deliberately harrassed immigrants to make them uncomfortable living here. (Cinci newspaper expose)

So while it is just ambiguous enough to leave the possibility that they didn't mean blacks or minorities (and that's why it is ambiguous I think), the hint is there that there is a "part" of society that is dangerous, not that "thieves" are dangerous.

It would be just as easy to type: "Due to people who leave without paying..." which would then not target any group.

Could be benign... but it doesn't read that way to me here in this town.

Rachel said...

So you're saying this sign is in line with an already-established mindset that exists there. I can see that. Skill in intentionally-ambiguous writing (or speaking) is a dangerous thing, I think. Like with this sign--there's enough there to be troubling, to give someone living in Cincinnati (with the cultural background you described) cause to feel a jab, but not enough to convict the writer of anything. He or she can come back with "Oh, you're just imagining it." (another way to make the questioner the bad guy.) Becoming skillful in intentionally-ambiguous writing lets you say what you want while still covering your butt because when you're called on it, you've always got that ambiguity to hide behind. I'd call that cheating at communication.

preacherruss said...

Okay...I think I'm in the category of WHYTF is this a big deal? I realize that the phrase "certain parts of our society" could be read in any number of ways, but my overall sense is that this person probably didn't really know how to say what they wanted to say. And, if Cincy's anything like Dallas, most of the people who WORK at these places are immigrants...so...I dunno...

shrugging