BY GABE LICHT
Vandalism at Barb King Inspiration Park brought outrage and disappointment from local residents over the weekend.
An individual or individuals used green spray paint to deface the equipment with “TRUMP 2020,” genitalia, and smiley faces.
Unfortunately, it spoiled the view for park users and passersby until public works staff was able to clean the equipment Monday morning. Those workers deserve credit for taking quick action at the beginning of the week to restore the park to its beautiful condition.
That park has always been my favorite park in Delano. Its unique design is a fitting tribute to Barb King who, I understand, did so much to better the community she called home.
It’s also a great demonstration of the strong partnership between Delano-based Landscape Structures, Inc., and the city. Delano benefits greatly as it receives the latest and greatest playground equipment at a fraction of the sticker price.
Vandalizing it is disrespectful to King’s legacy and shows a lack of appreciation for one of Delano’s finest amenities.
It’s not uncommon to see vandalism on public property, including playground equipment. I guess it’s an easy target, and is visible to many people, as was certainly the case with this particular vandalism.
The vandals want as much attention as they can get. They enjoy seeing their “handiwork” on display in public, and in pictures on social media and elsewhere. I refuse to give them the satisfaction of seeing their monstrosity in the paper.
I will, however call them out in this column.
What they did was spineless. It doesn’t take a lot of courage to spray paint park equipment under the cover of darkness. It doesn’t take a lot of brains, either.
The assumption is that the vandalism was perpetrated by teens or young adults. Whoever did it was certainly immature and selfish.
It’s immature to deface someone else’s property, in this case, property meant for members of the community to enjoy. It’s selfish to take away that enjoyment from others. And for what: to “express yourself?”
I’d suggest defacing your own property, but I’m guessing whatever you have has been given to you if you feel so entitled and selfish to try to destroy other people’s things.
I should be careful not to suggest that you are spoiled because, in a way, that would be putting the blame on someone else. It’s easy for people to put some of the blame on the vandals’ parents, but that is not fair. We’ve all done things that our parents would not be proud of and, certainly, did not teach us to do.
Others blame boredom and suggest that if there were more things to do, people wouldn’t resort to vandalism to entertain themselves.
However, even in communities with many opportunities to do positive things, we find people exhibiting negative behavior. Society can’t be blamed.
Perhaps the irregularity of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to such destructive behavior. Yes, the pandemic has caused stress and eliminated many activities, but such vandalism has been happening for years before the pandemic made things more difficult for just about everyone.
No, the blame lies squarely on the person or persons who did the act.
It’s important for everyone to take responsibility for their own actions, regardless of their situation.
There’s no doubt that people are upset about the results of the election, the pandemic, and actions taken to curb the spread of the virus.
That anger is also on display down the road from Delano on a sign outside of an area business along a busy highway.
The sign reads “GOVT WALZ IS A •••• WAD.”
At least the owner of the business took my advice to put this message on his own property and not on someone else’s.
However, I still believe doing so is tacky, immature, and does not reflect well on the community.
I am also worried about kids who read this sign. First of all, four-letter words do not belong on signs next to highways traveled by thousands of vehicles daily. It’s just not appropriate to have such a sign in a place where kids can read it. Secondly, it’s teaching that name-calling is OK, especially if you don’t get your way.
Instead of calling the governor names, perhaps the business owner could take a more positive approach, and offer suggestions for keeping people safe.
I took some time to look up the county’s sign ordinance. It states: “It is hereby found and declared that, in the interest of and to promote the general welfare of the people and to conserve the natural beauty of the unincorporated rural areas of the county, that it is necessary to reasonably and effectively regulate and control the erection and maintenance of signs. The objectives of this section including preserving the right of free speech and expression, providing easy and pleasant communication between people and their surroundings, and avoiding excessive levels of visual clutter and distraction that are potentially harmful to traffic and pedestrian safety, property values, business opportunities, or community appearance.”
Is the sign free speech? Yes. Is the sign pleasant? No. Does it contribute to the appearance of the community? No.
So, I would say it complies with the letter of the “law,” but not the spirit of it. It will be interesting to see how long the sign stays up, or if the business will take it down, either due to pressure from others or by his own volition.
In full disclosure, I was already boycotting this business for a number of reasons.
Now, I’ll likely never give them business again. However, I know there will be plenty of people who admire the business owner’s chutzpah and will continue to give him business, and possibly patronize his business more, so he’ll likely be just fine, and maybe even come out ahead.
That doesn’t change the fact that, just like vandalism in a park, there are much better ways to get one’s message out without taking away someone else’s ability to enjoy a day at the park or a peaceful drive down the highway.