Let’s paint a pointless Fence more often

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Two weeks ago, The Fence was the subject of a political controversy after it was vandalized to protest a “Free Palestine” statement written upon it. Last Monday, the very next paint job it received read “When Life Gives You Lemons, Drop Them.” To what this new statement referred was unclear. If this was an advertisement of an upcoming event or a group wishing to relay some important message, it was a terrible job. Yet a group of people got together and decided to make this statement anyways. Why?

A better question to ask is “Why not?” In this school year alone, The Fence has been subject to a handful of vandalizations and disputes. Every month or so, it is the face of some political agenda. This happened when CMU Republicans painted The Fence just prior to midterms last November, onto which what may have been syrup was spilled onto The Fence. This prompted the University to issue a statement disapproving Fence vandalism, seeing it as a censorship of free speech. Another time, when The Fence stood against the predations of the Chinese Communist Party on human rights, someone desecrated The Fence with profanity. And now with what happened last week, one must think if these social statements, whatever they may be, are so constructive that they are prompting civil discussion on topics.

Everyone should have a right to paint The Fence however they wish, and the University has affirmed that. The Fence is, however, also subjecting the entire University to a number of divisive issues and unprompted bursts of emotion from some people who wish to befoul the statement painted.

Political and social issues used to occupy much less space in the public consciousness, and it was easier for people with opposing beliefs to get along despite their different opinions. Such relationships are very rare nowadays, and it is things like The Fence pressing hot button issues that brings nothing but timber to an already raging inferno.

Something worth noting is that in the past few years, many topics formerly on the margins of political discussion are coming to the forefront. It is obvious that with more conversations, a more open-minded community should flourish — in theory. A world of open discussion should bring with it a diversity of ideas and opinions, and inversely, a silenced world is one that hosts bigotry. However, it has come to question for many if this theory is proving fruitful and bringing about what we'd hoped it would. Political debates have become such a well of vitriol that one cannot help but grow weary of the fact that seemingly every platform is appropriated into a method to grandstand.

The Fence, in its original practices, was a way in which organizations advertised house parties and events, but never or only rarely a political stance. I don’t believe I am the only one in saying that it is a breath of fresh air when The Fence is something that isn’t a bleeding argument. I’m not advocating for the total censorship of people who wish to paint The Fence for whatever they wish, but if more people were organized to paint The Fence to something that isn’t going to get people riled up, we would all be able to enjoy the peace of life more often.