Wednesday’s Show

Wednesday, May 12, 2010   

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has spent the last two decades taking pictures of North America’s endangered animals and plants. His new book titled, Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species is intended to inform, caution, and inspire people to stem the decline of Earth’s biodiversity. An exhibit of Sartore’s photographs is on display at National Geographic Museum through October.  Then, philosophy in America is alive and well and slapped on the back of our cars.  In less than 140 characters, the humble bumper sticker has been a platform for a national conversation about the human condition.  Bob speaks with philosopher and water polo coach Jack Bowen about his new book If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers.

One Reply to “Wednesday’s Show”

  1. Having been a listener for a very long time, this is the first time I felt compelled to write in response to a speaker on the show. I try to take something away from every speaker you have on, but the discussion on "If You Can Read This" I felt was pretty off the mark. It’s really no big deal, but I just found that his entire take on many of these bumper stickers implied some sort of psychological connection taken literally from the statement on the sticker. I for one, don’t place that much stock in the statements; in fact, I think a lot of the more "aggressive" statements don’t really mean anything other than a snarky remark on someone else’s bumper sticker.

    Similarly, although I don’t have a bumper sticker that says my child is an honor student on my car, if I did put one there, for me it’s probably more likely that I put it there out of response to the endless begging for me to put it on my car, rather than bragging on my honor student. And although I’d be more likely to put a "My honor student can beat up your honor student" sticker on my car just to be funny, I seriously doubt any of my girls will be beating up any other honor students anytime soon.

    For a while, in our community (Hilton Head Island, SC) there have been a large number of bumper stickers imploring people to "Save The Sea Pines Deer" and "Save The Forest Beach Chickens" and "Save The Tiki Hut", all of which evolved from local efforts to rid certain neighborhoods of particular animals/gathering places. When I posted my response ("Eat The Sea Pines Deer"), I got some pretty nasty comments. Years later, when a raccoon attacked my best friend’s daughter (she was okay, but got quite a scare), he killed the raccoon and since we are both share a similar sense of the sarcastic, I made a "Save The Bayley Point Raccoons" sticker for my car. He thought it was hilarious, but I got so many nasty comments from people in the community who were angry that I would value the life of a raccoon over the life of a "dear little girl", I took it down. It was difficult to explain in the grocery store parking lot- "Hey, it’s just a joke".

    Mr. Bowen, I would hope, understands, there’s a lot of people with bumper stickers out there that aren’t necessarily commenting on the human condition; we’re just commenting because it strikes us as funny.

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