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The Writing on the Wall

Kris Schnee

The daily life of college has been getting somewhat surreal lately. Presumably because of the spring weather, or the stress of approaching exams, people have been posting strange messages on bulletin boards around campus. Some of these posters and signs are outrageous, while others are simply... weird.

Congratulations go to the MIT branch of the marijuana legalization group NORML for amusing us all. For a while, it was hard to avoid seeing their advertisements around campus, their signs on Mass. Ave., or their display in Lobby 7, all bearing a large leaf and exhorting people to rally for their noble cause. Other pro-weed posters combined leaves in a logo with a medical staff and cross and proclaimed, “We are coming. Hold out,” with the slogan, “Cures not wars.” The “war” referred to is the establishment’s attempt to imprison people who use this drug. “Release the medicine. Heal the sick,” implored NORML’s poster. The proposed solution to the marijuana problem is to “stop all cannabis arrests,” a move which would also liberate NORML’s members to use marijuana for non-humanitarian purposes as well. Surely we should accept this as coincidence, lest we be accused (as the posters suggested) of that great sin of the 90s, “intolerance.”

An organization called TARGET has also recently displayed a large series of posters protesting the war in Kosovo. While their web site has some material criticizing the NATO airstrikes on legitimate constitutional grounds, the group apparently decided that inflammatory and deceptive advertising would be better for the general public. Protesting the “nationalist and hegemonic oppression” against the Serbian people who stand behind Milosevic as he carries out his program of ethnic cleansing, TARGET casts the Serbians as victims and NATO and the United States as villains for intervening. In a breathtaking display of punctuation, one sign asks why civilians are being “slaughtered... FOR PEACE?!?!?” “Come raise your voice against the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the use of nuclear weapons,” says another. Nuclear weapons? That sign leaves the reader to wonder whether NATO is secretly using atomic bombs on Serbia. Other signs explain further, though: some airplane ammunition contains depleted uranium, used for its extreme mass to penetrate armor. Perhaps the uranium really will cause health problems for the Serbian people, as the Web site claims (especially for those who take 30mm rounds internally), but again the signs blare “nuclear weapons”-- an attempt to influence people with false ideas. Worse, another flyer compares Kosovo to Iraq, where “sanctions and biological warfare... are killing thousands of Iraqi children.” Perhaps the “biological warfare” is the sanctions? If this is what TARGET meant, it might have made more sense not to list it and the sanctions separately. As “biological warfare” could mean any warfare involving life, TARGET’s statements are true in the same sense as the President’s sworn testimony -- technically.

On the lighter side, the MIT Assassins’ Guild has been displaying some of their memorable moments in print. The best one ends, “I’ll bet there’s one thing you didn’t know about Frosted Dutch Apple Pop Tarts in their original foil wrapping... They lase.” It was also strange to see the advertisement for a comedy group performing with “Sock Puppet Leeches,” and the cluster of nine different “Womens’ Studies” signs on a single wall in Burton House. But the most interesting recent sign was one which appeared on Tuesday. With no other identification than the word “SWASS” -- the name of a political activist organization -- it displays pictures of wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage, with the caption, “Tired of Scientific Empiricism? Step into Lamarckian Evolution!” There is also a short description of Darwin’s contemporary, Lamarck, and his version of evolutionary theory. It is difficult to criticize something which makes so little sense that it’s hilarious.

Yes, life has been getting more surreal lately. Clearly, we all are in dire need of a vacation.