The Problem with Billboards

In an entry titled “The Problem with Vermont,” we succeeded in confusing a reader, who wrote back

How sorry I feel for you and your cynicism. You are speaking to someone who remembers “honour Boxes” for newspapers. My daughter who was in her mid-teens in the ’70s saw one that the Sunday Star was using during its introduction. Her reaction was like yours – “How dumb! Anyone can steal it.”

The sense of honour, the sense of shame, the sense of personal responsibility, the sense of personal pride – one’s name, one’s word — all have evaporated to be replaced by security guards, suspicion, security cameras, electronic identification, etc.

There was a time, Jacob, when all this security was unthinkable. It was a different world. You will never know the joy and the freedom that it provided.

The ALLDERBLOB received its tutelage at the hand of one Eric Oatman, a very fine editor at Scholastic Magazines. He liked to paraphrase Mark Twain, saying “good writing is as a piece of glass held up to the world. You should see through the glass without glare, smudges, reflection or dirt.”

Mr Oatman would not be proud of “The Problem with Vermont.”

For the record, the point of the piece was that

A world where billboard advertising is outlawed is a world where blatant lies are not tolerated is a world where honest and conscientious behaviour is its own reward.

Although written in a sardonic manner, what we hoped to convey in the blob entry about Vermont was the very “joy and freedom” our reader describes. We experienced it in Vermont, which is why we wrote about it.

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