Fox: Sidewalks are the perfect place for political discourse


Kennedy DeRaedt/Iowa State Daily

Columnist Parker Fox uses satire to talk about students chalking their opinions on campus sidewalks. Fox states a few “benefits” of doing so, which include having anonymity and being able to alter others’ messages.

Parker Fox

Editor’s Note: This piece is satire and for entertainment purposes.  

After experiencing it myself firsthand here at Iowa State, I have discovered the perfect, fail-proof method for dispensing political discourse: just write your position on the sidewalk! Sure, many people over the years have used the sidewalk to advertise club meetings and even political rallies, but it’s time we learn to take things a step further.

Iowa State hosts over 29,000 students, most of whom must pass the library daily for one reason or another. This means, when the messages are strategically placed, sidewalk politics can reach a wide audience with hardly any effort! Anyone walking by who happens to glance down will essentially be forced to view whatever message you have for them!

The placement and format of these messages has yet another advantage: anonymity. No one is required to sign their name on their sidewalk messages, nor is one expected to. As long as no one sees you writing the message, the author’s name is lost.

This means that there are virtually no social consequences! If you’re hesitant to try this method because you’re worried about how your friends and family might react, rest assured because you don’t have to tell them it was you. Despite your political differences, you can express them without the discontent of your loved ones. What’s more, even if this causes discontent or unease amongst the students who witness your political stance, you will never know how they truly feel because the students won’t know who to be upset with.

However, this anonymity does not prevent retaliation from the haters. Water is actually super effective against chalk, and your message can be scrubbed away or even altered by more chalk. Fear not, for the chalk is mightier than the chalk. You can rewrite your message as many times as you want for as much sidewalk as there is, or even alter other chalk wielders’ messages!

While these are all certainly benefits, the real genius of this method has yet to be discussed and requires a bit of an example. Let’s say your hot political take is 25 percent of the triumvirate wants to allow lions as pets for the citizens. The way this message is written indicates the author is against lions as pets for citizens, with the 25 percent representing a number that is supposedly so large it is astonishing. If this is the only exposure a viewer has to this political take, they may or may not believe it, but how would they truly know? Would they get more info from “Not a Partisan Issue Weekly” or “Data Battles” starring a man who believes global shrinking is a lie sent to us from the martians? Chances are, you may have already won an individual over.

Even if someone wanted to fact-check this claim that one fourth of people from a group of only three people want to make lions pets, where would they begin to investigate this claim? Just as you are not expected to sign your message, you aren’t expected to give sources on your information; it would take up too much space to write a URL link to a meme on your aunt’s Facebook page.

It is for these reasons that sidewalk chalk discourse is the best course of action if you wish to avoid any repercussions for your actions, differing opinions or honest curiosity and feedback. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, give it a try! No one will be able to correct you and you may even feel validated for a short time.