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Monday, March 27, 2006

Like a Good Neighbor, Big Brother Is There

It is the defining question of every community across the land, maybe the core issue facing American society.

How do we get people to stop parking cars in their front lawns?

One approach is simple: Ask the owners to move the vehicles. If you’re feeling a bit more aggressive, fines can be levied against violators to “encourage” action. Local governments could just tow the cars away without warning.

Authorities in Manassas Park, Virginia, are employing a less direct approach. Sneaky, actually.

It is a covert operation that would make James Bond proud: Officials are giving children coloring books. Special ones.

That’s because these coloring books—titled “Being a Good Neighbor”—contain messages against overcrowded houses, outdoor furniture, and uncut grass. And yes, they let kids know that leaving cars on your lawn just isn’t nice.

The book’s critics claim it targets new immigrants and manipulates children. Its creators, on the other hand, say it helps inform families about the need to clean up their property and display good citizenship. Consider the book’s seek-and-find, a case study in neighborly terms like “zoning,” “overcrowding,” and “inspections.”

You might not be surprised that this gives me some ideas on other ways to promote citizenship.

Public Punishment. Let’s bring back the scarlet letter, the whipping post, and the guillotine. For every couch on your porch, it’s two lashings. A car on the lawn gets you tarred and feathered. Tie up gimps in your basement for fun? You’ll be burned at the stake.

Town Hall Hypnotism. Gather everyone together in a big auditorium and give them subliminal orders to behave. What better way to train a community to treat each other nicely than to have them do it unconsciously?

Tag, You’re It. The best citizens can obtain the ultimate reward—political office. Think of the benefits: expense accounts … job-for-life incumbency … supple and willing young interns. You even get to come up with loony ideas to test on the general public.

Like good neighbor coloring books.

36 Comments:

At March 27, 2006 10:56 PM, Blogger Will replied to my musings ...

Or you could bring back stoning ... Ok, that's a bad idea, better stick to brainwashing with coloring books. When you live in the city, you forget what people like to do with their front lawns.

 
At March 27, 2006 11:10 PM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

This is a blatant case of redneck profiling...

 
At March 27, 2006 11:22 PM, Blogger fatty ~ replied to my musings ...

do all this and convince them its all in the name of civil liberties... and your set! An instant US government!

i know thats harsh - bite me

 
At March 27, 2006 11:57 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

*Giving children coloring books teaching them how bad parking cars on the lawn is...*

Well, that makes a lot of sense since it's these damn little kids that are constantly parking their rusted out jalopies on people's front lawns.

 
At March 28, 2006 12:56 AM, Blogger Jacquie replied to my musings ...

Is it wrong of me to wish I had one of those coloring books?

Where I live it's more a question of who has curtains on the windows? who has sheets? tinfoil? newspapers....

Wouldn't it be interesting to know how much they spent on the little brother initiative?

 
At March 28, 2006 6:09 AM, Blogger Curare_Z replied to my musings ...

Does the coloring book include how to keep your dog from shitting on my lawn?

 
At March 28, 2006 6:33 AM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

Growing up I had neighbors who would build a shed out of any scrap wood they could find. They once had about eight sheds on two acres of land and every single shed was crooked.

 
At March 28, 2006 7:44 AM, Blogger FredCQ replied to my musings ...

Do you know what we can give people who drive cars and talk on cell phones?

A Coloring book; rolled up and then a whack on the head with it.

 
At March 28, 2006 7:53 AM, Blogger Cari replied to my musings ...

My pet peeve is littering!!!

Something so simple, yet people don't have the common sense to do it.

There is no exuse for it. In parks, homes, median strips in the highway, roads, lakes, etc.. etc...

PUT THE DAMN TRASH IN A TRASH CONTAINER!!

If not, I say we stick the accused in a big smelly loaded dumpster for 48 hours, to let the trash really sink in their skin.

 
At March 28, 2006 8:27 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

What would someone get for letting their damn dogs roam all over the neighborhood???

I know!!! Collect their poop and pelt the owners with it!

Sounds like a surefire cure to me! I'll have to try that....;)

 
At March 28, 2006 9:29 AM, Blogger BrianAlt replied to my musings ...

Kinda reminds me of Reefer Madness or those other 50s movies that they would show kids about manners. You know the ones?

 
At March 28, 2006 10:43 AM, Blogger jay lassiter replied to my musings ...

fredcq: you make he laugh!
David: Honestly the townhall hypnosis is really funny at *first blush* but given the radical nature of the government, it cuts a bit too close to the bone to amuse.
Of course, he we could get different hypnotists..............

 
At March 28, 2006 11:57 AM, Blogger angel, jr. replied to my musings ...

Coloring books? How about just letting Barney sing a song about it, or the Backyardigans singing a song about how they can't prance around anymore because they are stuck under a tire.

 
At March 28, 2006 12:04 PM, Blogger KC replied to my musings ...

You know, the DARE program kind of does the same thing... they sneakily attack the bad habits of parents by telling the children the way they think life should be lived. I don't do drugs, I never have, but I smoked cigarettes for many years. Once my kid got into the DARE program, I had to quit because he just wouldn't stop telling me how wrong it was. I either had to stop smoking or I was going to have to put tape over his mouth to shut him up. No kidding. Drove me crazy.

This coloring book thing will work the same way. Kids will be asking mommy and daddy to tape their finished artwork on the frig and then it will be staring them in the face everyday, encouraging them to move the damn cars and trash out of the yard. Never underestimate the power of propaganda.

 
At March 28, 2006 12:16 PM, Blogger Mimi replied to my musings ...

Great ideas! I sure hope the kids don't leave their coloring books outside. I would be worried about what the creators would do to them!

 
At March 28, 2006 1:59 PM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

"Don't suspect a friend - report them!"

Sometimes being a good neighbor means minding your own business. Politics is ever the home of busybody moralists who's hobby is running other people's lives.

 
At March 28, 2006 2:15 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

I agree with Mimi: These are some damn creative ideas. Very, er ... colorful.

I especially enjoy, perhaps too much, the idea of putting litterers into dumpsters. I want to start an underground group a la Fight Club just for that purpose.

And Jacquie, I must tip my hat to you. I really should have titled this piece "Little Brother is Watching You."

-- david

 
At March 28, 2006 2:18 PM, Blogger debbiecakes replied to my musings ...

David-

Your "Public Punishment" ideas are the best. In History class, I was always fascinated with the old-fashioned torturing methods.
I want to find out who came up with the Tar & Feathering. That's just fucking nuts....But I'd give a thumbs up for "wacky-ness" and "major off-beat creativity".

deb

 
At March 28, 2006 3:05 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I like the "tag, you're it" idea, David. Considering the "hive of scum and villainy" (my favorite Star Wars termw) e currently have representing us in Washington, getting Joe Everyday American in office for being a good citizen would only serve to be an improvement over the current disaster we have passing for a legislative body in Washington.

I honestly think the president (whether it be Bush, Reagan, Clinton or whomever) gets far too much of the blame for the mess our country is in at any given time-- Congress is just as guilty, if not moreso. But it's much easier to have a single face to place the blame on, I s'pose.

Well anyway, here's to hoping that maybe something real might actually come of your "tag, you're it" idea.

 
At March 28, 2006 5:07 PM, Blogger An80sNut replied to my musings ...

I like the fact that the children are given the coloring books yet the parents feel it is directed at them. Sure, it's subtly done so the children ask the parents why they do things the way they do but kids do that all the time anyhow. Now if we can keep the neighbors from painting their houses pastel colors.

 
At March 28, 2006 5:57 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

an80snut: But c'mon pastel colored houses aren't THAT bad... after all if not for Pink Houses, what would John Cougar Mellancamp write songs about? And what about The Band? Music From Big Beige or Music From Big White just doesn't have the same ring to it as Music From Big Pink.

 
At March 28, 2006 5:58 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn replied to my musings ...

I want the job of writing citations to the lawbreakers, and you get the job of doling out the public humiliation & punishment. What FUN we will have!!

I really like the mass hypnotize thing. Please have the masses unconsciously leave expensive gifts on my porch. Thanks.

 
At March 28, 2006 5:59 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn replied to my musings ...

Personal update:
We had a whirlwind of a weekend. The 50th anniversary for my inlaws went wonderfully. It was a lot of work, and Courtney's media presentation she made for them made everyone at the dinner party cry. There were about 125 people who attended and we had to set up and then clean up afterwards. Lots of work! But worth it.
Courtney is doing well. She had sinus surgery yesterday. She is home with a drippy, bloody nose, and popping pain pills. She's a trooper, and will be fully recovered in about ten days.
I'm busy visiting all my blog friends, and I have some catching up to do. I will have a new post at my place on Wednesday.

 
At March 28, 2006 10:56 PM, Blogger fatty ~ replied to my musings ...

for all those idiots who waste water with dripping taps and sprinkles - i say japanese water torture.

A silent soundproof room room, strapped to the table, with a constant drip hitting your forhead for hours and hours.

[then make them wash/drink that water to conserve and recycle]

 
At March 28, 2006 11:07 PM, Blogger Bar Bar A replied to my musings ...

WOW! I was here when you first posted this and had no comments and didn't want to be the first one. I am glad I waited cause there's some funny stuff in these comments! And the best part, now I don't have to come up with anything witty to say.

 
At March 29, 2006 6:49 AM, Blogger Jay replied to my musings ...

I love colouring books! And I'm a sucky neighbour!

 
At March 29, 2006 7:55 AM, Blogger Allypooh replied to my musings ...

I used to have sucky neighbors. The "harpy" was so annoying. And, she had four ill mannered kids. Screaming, yelling, and brawling 24/7. Obscenities hurled to any innocent passerby for no apparent reason other than you didn't have a herd of children walking after you.
The beauty of military base housing, however is that you CAN be kicked out for said behaviors. The day they moved we had a block party..
Coloring books are cool. Got any paint by number sets?

 
At March 29, 2006 8:04 AM, Blogger siren replied to my musings ...

I wonder if the coloring books also address why it's not a good idea to marry family members. Maybe they'll devote a whole coloring book to that topic :)

 
At March 29, 2006 8:17 AM, Blogger Dr.John replied to my musings ...

For all of this it seems to me that coloring books are the least invasive government action. They come with no penalties. They give kids something to do. You can line your bird cage with them. You can burn your garbage in the back yard and use them to light the fire.
It sure beats puttiung me in jail. The car stays and thats that.

 
At March 29, 2006 11:37 AM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

I like the "tag your it" line. Perhaps we could coax Prime Ministers and Presidents to play that game.

 
At March 29, 2006 2:57 PM, Blogger Kitty replied to my musings ...

Having lived for twenty months in a Manassas Park, VA HOA-sanctioned, monthly dues-collected, Stepford $1/2M - $3/4M neighborhood, where I was a minority because most of the people in the neighborhood with enough $$$$ to own the houses were Asian and Middle Eastern, with a few African-Americans and Europeans mixed in, all working in D.C. in super-secret government jobs with high-level security clearance, I can attest to understanding exactly what you're talking about. The only time we ever saw Hispanics in the neighborhood was when someone was having lawn work done (and that is, in no way, a racist remark - just a simple fact).

I'm NOT surprised to hear this at all. Manassas Park *tried* to pretend that they were an exclusive city, but there were only "pockets" of wealthy housing neighborhoods. Most of the city was middle to lower class areas. There were a lot of places I wouldn't drive at night without locking all of my doors and carrying my .38 or 9mm with no qualms about using it.

Just because they have a few 'upscale' neighborhoods doesn't mean they can simply 'erase' the rest of the residents from the population! Trying to change the parents by shaming the kids really isn't the way to do it!!

 
At March 29, 2006 4:28 PM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

I would imagine those children do not keep it between the lines with their coloring. :)

 
At March 29, 2006 5:33 PM, Blogger Big D replied to my musings ...

Supple and willing interns! Sign me up.

 
At March 29, 2006 5:58 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

I love all the ideas, but Siren's really gets me. Imagine a coloring book dedicated to why it's not a good idea to marry family members. The deformities alone would be fun to color using my favorite crayons, periwinkle and cornflower.

-- david

 
At March 31, 2006 5:18 PM, Blogger Zelda replied to my musings ...

I'm not so much for the scarlet letter or the guillotine. But the whipping post.....

 
At March 02, 2007 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

the youth will be rebellious so long as they've been taught to live constricted by rules and regulations.

 

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