Mutilated Acres

I’m generally for tyranny of the majority and depriving individuals of rights and personal privilages if there is utilitarian benefit to be had. State power in the modern world is colossal and terrifying. As an instrument for executing our collective will it is unparalleled. Like any force, it can be applied toward creation as well as destruction, or more accurately both simultaneously. The people are the hammer, government the chisel. I say that as one who owns no property and is in possession of nothing in need of defending. Were I properly middle class I would have more to lose. I might have misgivings over the possibility of my land and property being reapportioned by “the people” and trampled over by strangers as a public way or some crowded park.

Outside of Stoughton, Wisconsin, a farmer whose land is bisected by I-90 painted this sarcastic message on the front of his barn, in plain view of everyone passing by on the highway:

I grew up in Madison and have passed this barn many times. I used to wonder about the resentment and frustration this person must bear toward the very presence of this road. It passes right in front of his (or, less likely, her) house. The family that lives there is confronted with it every day. The message is sardonic but also kind of light-hearted, as if the individual who wrote it has long ago given up making threats and has since resigned himself to a complacent grudge. It is worth noting that this road was expanded into an interstate highway in the mid-50’s. It’s been there for close to sixty years and has probably just become part of the landscape of this region for most people. But for that one angry man it remains an intrusion. He calls it a mutilation because to him it’s a wound that will never heal fully. He directs the message at everyone driving on the road, because, really, everyone who uses this highway is implicated in the injustice. His anger has transcended from a petty and impossible dispute with the government to a broader incitement of the system we all as a people have submitted him to. This message is intended to remind us of what we’ve done, and what we continue doing.

In recent years, he has added the bit about the 2nd amendment on his machinery shed. Maybe this represents a new dimension in his philosophy of resistance: protecting and keeping alive the possibility of armed opposition.

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