Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

In which the author finds beauty in how people tell other people what to do.

Obey Our Customs, Please!

please_tipHand-written normative signs are a very special category of their own. This one was on the wall of a massage therapist’s office in Washington, DC. It’s an interesting plea. After all, what decent traveller doesn’t want to respect local culture & customs?

Thanks to Peter Jarowski for sending this one.

All Are Welcome

all_are_welcomeYou might say this sign is normative, but definitely not heteronormative. This is a church on P Street in Washington, DC.

Actually, is this a normative sign? I usually think of normative signs as giving categorical instructions: “Do this,” or “Don’t do that.” Thus a bumper sticker or political slogan isn’t a normative sign in the relevant sense (i.e., the sense this blog is interested in) because it doesn’t offer specific instructions, but merely implies support for a point of view. In a way, the sign pictured here is in a way more like a Welcome matt. But the rainbow implies not just an expression of solidarity, but also a kind of targeted invitation: “You — yes you — should come worship here.”

(Thanks to Wayne for the pic.)