Perhaps I’m not the only one puzzled by the “No blood for peace in IL” graffiti outside Downer for the past few months. I’m an Illinois resident and don’t quite understand what’s going wrong.Perhaps the graffiti artist was protesting Illinois’ uncharacteristically high death penalty. Last week, Illinois governor George Ryan commuted most of Illinois’ Death Row sentences. Maybe the sign worked.
Perhaps, though, Ryan reached the decision without looking at the graffiti.
I’m a fan of direct democracy and activism (especially when it breeds diversity of thought and not uniformity), but still, part of me thinks that the violent situation of Illinois can be best addressed in places other than Downer.
There was also graffiti on College Avenue in front of Plantz, but I have never been able to stop without risking death to read it. I think it made an impact on motorists, though.
Perhaps, still, fair enough, the graffiti artist could also be, as am I (although he/she used the postal abbreviation, not the correct one) from Ill., and the graffiti was an outlet for his/her frustrations.
Perhaps, finally, the graffiti was designed to raise consciousness about negative attitudes practically in our own back yard. I am a student of the 1968 Democratic Convention (the September 6, 1968 Life Magazine hangs on my wall) and know that Ill. can be a bloody place, ending lives and crushing dreams.
Perhaps the artist just did what he/she could. In fact, the death penalty is virtually gone in Ill. . . well, until Governor Rod Blagojevich takes office and starts being scared of seeming “soft on crime.”
In the end though, I think the statement is understandable, but I just don’t quite understand it. Maybe it’s the use of postal abbreviations or that funny looking “O” in No. And if you’re going to make a broad statement like that, why stop with IL?
I am thankful for Peter Gillette’s creative speculations regarding the graffiti in front of Downer. However, I am very disappointed in his ignorance.
It angers me that Gillette, a student at a school with a very healthy world view, is so lacking in knowledge of world events. It saddens me to think that Gillette could be an example of a severe problem on this campus: ignorance or apathy towards catastrophic world events due to a narrow-minded existence in the “academic bubble.”
Rather than broaden his world outlook by researching the content of this spray of social activism, Gillette only speculated on its meaning by selfishly applying the statement to a hodgepodge of facts from his home state.
Given the content of past articles by Gillette, perhaps one could speculate that Gillette knew full well the meaning of the statement and was merely making a failed attempt at humor. If this is the case, I am even more appalled. Using The Lawrentian as a platform for trivializing life-threatening events is at best an insult to the informed and at worst a severe error in judgment. The Lawrence Community deserves better than this.
If Gillette is indeed asphyxiating inside of the academic bubble, than perhaps there are others similarly afflicted. While it is a shame that one must stoop to this level, I will briefly explain the social context of this graffiti to enlighten those still wandering in academic darkness.
In the mid-ninth century, what is now known as “Iceland,” an island country in the northern Atlantic Ocean, was inhabited by a small group of Irish monks known as “Papar.” By the turn of the 10th century, a large and often violent group known as “Vikings” claimed this land for their own and drove the monks back to their homeland and elsewhere. While is not confirmed that this was a bloody upheaval, it is quite possible due to the track record of earlier Viking rampages.
Clearly our concerned Lawrence hooligan was aware of the 1,100th anniversary of this event and feared that history might repeat itself with another Viking uprising. While I cannot condone the use of paint to express political concern, I do share this youth’s view that there is no need for blood to be shed for peace in Iceland.
It is imperative that Gillette and other self-centered members of the Lawrence Community be aware of world events such as these, so more errors in judgment do not occur.
It is my darkest fear that our concerned vandal will read the tragic Reykjavik news story “Tired of Deaths off Fjord” and strike again, inspiring the ignorant Gillette to make up another far-fetched news story about Ford Motors having to recall thousands of tires due to a series of road accidents.
Read and research more carefully my friends, and let’s take the social events of this world a little more seriously.
A & E Editor
*Note to reader: The Lawrentian does not endorse the opinions included in the Point-Counterpoint column. Neither do the authors, and frankly, neither should you.