Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

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

Parking for Mothers or Parents?

parental_parking2I swear it’s coincidental that I’m posting this on Father’s Day.

And this is not a lame “men’s rights” blog entry. I’m genuinely curious about whether this sign really is intended to single out women with babies, or is it more generally for anyone with a young child. Is the gendered sign to be taken literally? Or is a dad with an infant allowed to park there?

The sign is posted in a grocery store parking lot.

I’m pretty sure this sign isn’t legally binding, anyway. But would (say) a private security guard tell a man with a baby (or male gay couple with a baby) to move out of this space? Would a fellow customer give a man with a baby a dirty look for parking in a women-with-babies parking spot? Hopefully not. Doing so would imply an assumption that — well, what? That women are the ‘weaker sex,’ and only they need special parking spots?

Again, my point here is not at all that the sign might be discriminatory, though I suppose that might be true. I’m curious instead whether the message is narrow (intentionally or not) or whether a female figure with a baby carriage should now be taken as a placeholder for any parent with an infant?

Ubiquitous Danger Overhead

overhead_lines2This sign seems radically under-informative to me.

Aren’t there overhead powerlines just about everywhere? And aren’t they generally safe, so long as you don’t do something stupid like climbing a pole without proper gear and training?

And if you do something stupid like that, aren’t power lines always dangerous? So, what makes this situation/location special, such that it warrants a warning sign? There’s no evidence here of a special danger — no dangling powerlines. Perhaps (given the wooded location) the danger is to workers cutting / trimming trees. But then, why not say so? Besides, such workers are typically hyper-aware of such dangers.

The sign is posted on a trail adjacent to a suburb on the edges of Ottawa.