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Added Oct 22 2012

The hand-written political screeds in the window of String a Strand in Lincoln Square are well-known. Sadly, they've now invited graffiti on the window. (Photo attached.) Angry signs are harmless. No need to express disagreement by damaging his property.

  • F. R. Johnson recently transplanted to Portage Park

    Good grief. Guess I'll have to walk over there just to see what everyone is talking about.

  • Alex M. Jeff Park, web design, DJ, thinker

    Hence the label or a piece of paper with tape. The owner can remove it easily. The lipstick is a messy deal and thus makes it more vandalism as opposed to free speech.

    Now if we're going to say that you cannot do anything at all to rebuke his sign, then residents can always call up Middle Eastern organizations to picket outside his store or even do public boycotts and other legal "your'e not welcome in our neighborhood" messages.

    I'm sure then he'll claim people are anti-business...when he tossed the first stone.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    Alex: I suspect you know this, but, no, you can't mess with another person's property. That is not covered under your free speech rights. Doesn't matter how messy or non-messy it is. If you don't believe me, simply study some case law on the 1st Amd.

    "The lipstick is a messy deal and thus makes it more vandalism as opposed to free speech"--I am not quite you sure understand the concept of vandalism and free speech.

  • Alex M. Jeff Park, web design, DJ, thinker

    For the record, I wouldn't hang a sign or write on his window. I'd simply not patronize him.

  • gRegor M New North Center resident from Indianapolis

    The ease of removal does not change it from "defacement" to "free speech," be it lipstick or a taped up sign. If you want a storefront to place your own signs in, then pay for one. Pretty much everything else in this thread is extraneous.

  • John AP 5 Year AP resident. LOVE it

    I agree. I may disagree completely with what the shopowner said, but it is NOT racist.

  • Alex M. Jeff Park, web design, DJ, thinker

    I'm being silly here now...but how about writing it on the public sidewalk with street chalk?

  • Shawn Ritchie South Side transplant to North Center since 2007

    Absolutely nothing about this from either side is a 1st Amendment issue, to be clear. And yeah, the only legal/rational responses basically boil down to "post your own counter-sign on your own property" and "don't patronize his business if you don't like the beliefs he pushes".

    Well, and "post on Everyblock about what an ignorant toolkit one thinks the sign-writer is".

  • Anaya in Horner Park 12 year resident

    I vote for the street chalk idea. Then every time the sun comes out after it rains we can say whatever we want all over again.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    It seems that for some citizens on the left, 'racist' has become the same kind of crutch that 'socialist' is for some citizens on the right. That is truly sad, as are all shortcuts to thinking.

  • gRegor M New North Center resident from Indianapolis

    Personally, I support street chalk since it's "public" property.

  • Alex M. Jeff Park, web design, DJ, thinker

    I also agree this guy's signs are not racist. I may lean left on many things, but I don't toss out "racism" as an easy answer. It's no better than when the Right keeps claiming any media/news that doesn't agree with them (or calls out a lie they might have told) is instantly "liberal media".

    I don't have an opinion on the Saudi Arabia thing, but I think it's ridiculous those who believe the lie created by the edited video clip of President Obama saying "you didn't build that".

    STAYING ON TOPIC THOUGH...I think it's wrong to write on a window in lipstick.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    Or, you can ignore the guy if you don't like his little signs in his window. Nothing you will ever do will change his mind, and I can't imagine those signs changing the minds of anyone, either. Silence often equals death when it comes to free speech issues.

    See how someone putting "racist" in that window simply gives more attention to the idea that the vandal didn't like?

  • Karen RCK Non-transplanted Chicagoan

    After reading the yelp reviews on the place, including the filtered ones, I kind of pity the owners -- though I don't agree with them.

    Who knows where their socialization went wrong but it sounds like they aren't doing much to help their business.

    Another EB user named Botkin posted the following in another thread about the signs back in August:

    "It's a vicious cycle: she posts angry nonsense in her front window causing people to not spend money there, deepening her political paranoia and leading to ever more deranged nonsense."

  • Karen RCK Non-transplanted Chicagoan

    ^ I meant to add -- Botkin seems to sum up the shop owners' situation perfectly.

    Lipstick isn't going to help these people.

  • B R

    Just reading through these comments, one thought comes to mind . . . "and we wonder why congress can't get anything done" . . . clearly this country has become so very divided. Us and Them -- they say . . . they do . . . they believe . . . and most of it is based on misunderstanding and misinformation. If we could learn (as a nation) to focus on what makes us the same instead of on what makes us different we might be able to solve issues like unemployment, rising debt, education, health care . . . etc.

    I speak to both sides --- stop talking at each other and have a conversation (half of which involves LISTENING). Believe it or not, you all have made at least one excellent point and it might have been understood by the others if you trimmed away all the "You and Me" rhetoric around it. It's not YOU S A - it is USa.

  • MarAng Uptown

    I have to agree with Botkin as well. From a strictly practical standpoint I don't understand why any business owner would jeapordize their livelihood by openly criticizing politicial candidates, or any public figure in this manner. Even if the window contained only anti-Romney rants I would not want to do business there even tho I support Obama. I would fear their looniness might carry over into their business practices as well.

  • The shop owner is an idiot regardless of whether he is within his rights. As to those who don't see any "racism" in the comment, might not be overt, but really? Why would bowing down as per custom to the King of Saudi be such a heinous act? Why point to this single particular instance? Without any other context, seems to be an anti-arab, anti-muslim statement to me. If someone else can point out any other reasonable explanation, I am all ears.

  • John AP 5 Year AP resident. LOVE it

    Javier, I was thinking more of an oil situation.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    Javier: How exactly is that racist? One can simply believe that any Dem is weak, and that the so-called bowing is supreme weakness from a politician who is already weak--and hold such views without it having anything to do with race. Listen, that is not my view, not by a long shot, but this increasing habit of labeling everything "racist" is childish, superficial and is little different from the right wing labeling everything "socialist" or, in another era I lived through, "communist."

    Perhaps the sign hanger simply has a problem with what he views as an apologetic tone set by Obama. Again, not my views, but is that so implausible that one must assume racism is involved? I know a lot of people who, while not racist, view Obama as being excessively weak. I don't agree with them--at least not as far as they go--but I do NOT think they are speaking from any racial hostility. I can see that the sign maker might be coming from that angle--though, of course, I do not know.

    I didn't mean to engage with the politics of all this--or even defend the person who made the sign--but come on, human nature is often beautifully and annoyingly complicated, isn't it? "Racist" is just too easy and destructive of a bomb to keep throwing as the first sign of alarm. Let's save it for when we have solid proof, OK? That's only decent, dignified and fair.

    I think I have offered at least a glance at another explanation that does not involve the President's race, or the race/ethnicity of anyone else. I hope that helps.

  • Shawn Ritchie South Side transplant to North Center since 2007

    "Muslim" is not a race. I can think of a lot of reasons one might not want to be courteous or polite to the King of All Sauds (I would spit in his eye before I'd bow to him, but nothing about what I do requires me to be beholden to the rules and etiquette of diplomacy), starting with the ties of Al Qaeda to the royal house of Saudi Arabia and the very likely fact that Saudi Arabia did more to make 9/11 possible than did either of the countries we actually invaded based loosely on that reason.

  • @Thad, I am on bard with your explanation. Could be the case. Thought that still oozes hatefulness and ignorance. Perhaps a more accurate lipstick sign would have been "hatemonger".
    @Swawn, very aware that Muslim is not a race, though pretty sure that 95% of the people in this country are not. I still shake my head quite often when I see "Hispanic" under race when filling out forms.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    Javier: I don't know if it oozes what you say it does. It's just another person's view. That I don't agree with it doesn't make the sign maker a hatemonger. I mean, in those two signs, where is the actual "hate'? I don't see it. Perhaps I just have a higher bar for such things, but I think our society needs to do a better job of refraining from labeling and then easily dismissing others' views. Or, we can stay with what we are doing. I mean, that's been working out so well since the late 1990s, hasn't it?

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but it's just a really sad situation in my view, how our country is going through one of those long grinding periods when we are at each others' throats and nothing really gets done (save for helping the bank accounts of those who scream the loudest on TV and the radio). We've been through it before, and we will again emerge toward something a little bit better, but this isn't going to end for a very long while, all this cheap acrimony. And so many fellow citizens will be left bitter for the rest of their lives. It's one of the oldest dynamics in history.

    Again, please excuse the sarcasm. Sometimes, that's the best one can do on the Internet. Nothing personal, of course.

  • OK Thad. If you do not see the contempt and hatefulness in that sign, then I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. Perhaps you are better at giving the benefit of the doubt. Go talk to this shop owner, and something tells me he will prove you wrong pretty quickly.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    Respectfully, Javier, can you point out the hate? I don't say it to argue, only to see what you are seeing. I am honestly curious about where you see the hatefulness in that sign. I won't debate you if you just show me. I just want to see.

  • gRegor M New North Center resident from Indianapolis

    Regarding the politics of the "bowing" comment, I'm pretty sure that's nationalism. There were criticisms, from the right, of Bush for similar things, as if doing such showed weakness or subservience of the US government.

    I find nationalism pretty off-putting, but it's not racism. Though they can overlap, I suppose. Still, "nationalism" is the term I would use to label this sign.

  • stella52 long time neighbor

    Censorship is dangerous, plain and simple. If we start to censor someone, we open the door to our being censored. Boycott the store! Pickett if you choose! But the guy has a right to state his opinion regardless of content.

  • JP

    I think this shop owner should post 4 signs in his window:
    1) I love Romney
    2) I love Obama
    3) I hate Romney
    4) I hate Obama
    Will this satisfy all the racist, hatemongering, 1st Amendment, free speech, Left, Right, Blue, Red, conspiracy theorists?
    In all seriousness, this guy doesn't like Obama. Big deal! That's not illegal. Lot's of people don't like Obama (or at least don't like him as our POTUS) as we're going to find out in November.

  • Jim, Lincoln Square GRO member

    Obviously, the person who wrote on the window wasn't very intelligent. There is absolutely NOTHING in those notes that would give the hint of racism.

  • Jim Mall Owner of Ravenswood Used Books

    This dude hasn't been so close to lipstick for twenty years. He should post a thank you message in that window. But it will be labeled as "sexist". Golly, what has the world come to?

  • Sandor Weisz Lincoln Square homeowner

    Heads up: just walked by the store and saw an NBC5 reporter interviewing the owner and a passerby about the whole thing. Talked to the reporter, Christian Farr, who said it should be on tonight's 10PM broadcast. Keep an eye out.

  • LStone Western and Lawrence

    Heard about it on NPR during rush hour.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    And, much like the bar for 'racist,' the bar for news in this city keeps getting lower, too, if the NPR and NBC tips are accurate.

  • John AP 5 Year AP resident. LOVE it

    I don't think so Thad. It was probably a 1 minute piece. With elections two weeks ago, it seems like a decent human interest piece.

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    John: I can't remember where, and perhaps my memory is faulty, but I seem to recall this guy getting attention every so often when, I would assume, a professional news gatherer or an intern relatively unfamiliar with Lincoln Square walks down that part of Lincoln and goes "Wow, that's odd, let's do an easy feature story on this, as this guy is certainly colorful." I've worked in news gathering, and that's not far from how these things can work.

    Again, my memory may be very wrong, but I seem to recall this sign maker getting his 3 minutes of attention every few years (I think the last time would have been his lengthy and much more creative rants against the parking meter deal). Good for him, I guess. As I said, I don't agree with his views, but I don't think he's racist or even all that hateful, at least based on his signs. He's just pissed off at the state of our country. Honestly, aren't we all in our own ways?

  • Joan M. Back in Lincoln Square and liking it.

    I think the word the lipstick wielder was looking for is, "xenophobic."

    This guy seems to be the business-owning equivalent of the guy standing outside the el station pounding his Bible and shouting about the End Times with spittle dribbling down his chin. Best to give him a wide berth.

  • F. R. Johnson recently transplanted to Portage Park

    I saw the story on the news and was rather surprised that NBC thought it worth covering. If that's the store owner's way of getting attention, it worked.

  • Here is the story.

    The owner has a few unintentionally hilarious statements, including, "Wolfson added to CBS that he's 'not a racist. My wife is Spanish. Come on.'"

  • As much as the grafiti is wrong, what the heck did the business owner expect would happen in chicago? Seriously! He was asking for the attention. I have no problem for people and their political beliefs, but i would refuse to go here just for the simple fact that he's an idiot for asking for this attention.

  • Alissa C Professional Organizer, Cat Lady, Fab Baker

    Maybe I've just got really good about tuning out political ranting (it's the only sane way to read one's Facebook feed these days), but what struck me about the whole thing was how sloppy it looked.

    1st: It's hard to take serious any business that slaps handwritten signs in their windows.
    2nd: Politics and religion seem like two things one should not blatantly wave around in potential customers faces, being such hot button topics.

    Do the sloppy signs justify graffiti/vandalizing of any kind? No. Does that mean it won't happen? Of course not. There's always someone out there who's even more immature. Otherwise we wouldn't have any kind of name calling, fights, etc.

    Of course I also thought the original ranty sign had more to do with the figurative bowing down (caving to demands or concessions, making nice when we should be aggresive, etc), than the actual literal bowing down.

    Just because I didn't think people would actually complain about standard etiquette.

  • F. R. Johnson recently transplanted to Portage Park

    Posting potentially provocative signs for the public to read in one's store window is just asking for trouble. If the store owner isn't careful he could end up with worse than lipstick . . . like a rock through his window. How many times have we seen property damage done for apparently no reason? Giving people a reason to do things like this seems very foolish.

  • Alissa C Professional Organizer, Cat Lady, Fab Baker

    What if an sign advocating for the alderman/congressman/etc of my choice during an election season was considered provocative by my neighbors? Who then decided to vandalize my business?

    Where do you draw the line in terms of "provocative"?
    No one posting something in their window is asking for vandalizing of their business.
    A clear headed business person would understand that publicizing certain views on their business, may lead to turning away business from customers who feel differently.

    As soon as we start saying "If you do X, you're asking for trouble" we've gone down the wrong path.
    How about if I got mugged in Uptown? Was I asking for trouble because I was walking home in a neighborhood with a bad reputation? I live here. If I get mugged the fault lies with the mugger, not with with victim.
    If we keep blaming the victim, let's just go right down that dangerous path and back into the era of blaming rape victims because they were "asking for it".
    Seem too extreme? But where does it stop? When you start blaming victims of crime (though, to be honest, I don't think lipstick writing is a crime per se), you're giving criminals power to do ill against the community.
    (This is a hot button topic for me personally)

    Disagree with the business owner all you want. Rant online, complain to your friends, leave bad Yelp reviews, boycott their business.
    As soon as you cross the line into doing physical damage, then -you- (the vandal in this case) are at fault. Period.

  • I don't think it's so much as blaming the victim as much as "what the hell did you expect".

  • Thad 40-something AP person

    Rudy: No, this was, indeed, classic "blame the victim" thinking. People ask what the hell should he expect? In my view, what he should expect it this: That people would either read the sign or ignore it, curse his politics or praise it (or ignore it), shop there or not, then go along their merry days and attend to other matters. That the reaction expected of adults in a democratic society.

  • I didn't know that a major qualification of being president was not showing respect to other heads of state.

  • @thad, sadly this isn't the world we live in and everybody knows that. In all seriousness, you should be right. But no, it's not reality. so no, what the heck did he expect writing a note like that on his window? He was provoking the neighborhood, literally. He knew this would happen, he had to. It's chicago.

  • stella52 long time neighbor

    Rudy; I'm very glad to say I thoroughly disagree with you and with your opinion of the rest of us who do live here and do respect other people's right to their opinion. This is Chicago, and it is possible to live and let live here as well as anywhere else.

  • JP

    While I'm all for 'an eye for an eye', vandalizing someone's property because you disagree with them should not be the expected outcome simply because 'it's Chicago'.
    If that's the case, what's that say about Chicagoans?
    With your line of reasoning, a person wearing a Green Bay Packers shirt on the streets of Chicago deserves to be assaulted?
    This isn't a Hollywood movie about Al Capone.

  • Regarding racism, this is not an example of racism and because racism does still exist, crying wolf like this helps hide the real incidents of racism/hate. Save it for the real thing.

    Regarding "you didn't build that" taken in its entire context, it is a foolish and cart-before-the horse-idea that because the government built the roads and power grid you didn't really build your business. Here is a great quote from Atlas Shrugged regarding collectivists thinking they deserve the fruits of other's labor and risk.

    In one part of the book, an entrepreneur named Rearden invented a new kind of metal and was making huge profits on it. The government wanted to take (some/most/all) of his profits and distribute as the folks in government wished to:


    “He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”


    “Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”

    She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

    - Atlas Shrugged, P1C9

  • Shawn Ritchie South Side transplant to North Center since 2007

    Sorry, I checked out as soon as you wrote "here is a great quote from Atlas Shrugged".

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This was posted to 4600-4645 N. Lincoln Ave.

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