I was behind this car coming back from lunch today. I couldn’t figure out why the driver would put this on his car, besides the shock value. Because if the point is that “murder is bad,” chances are most people already agree with you.
Also, I can’t believe that this is a common enough occurrence that someone made “Someone I Love Was Murdered” bumper stickers. And sells them somewhere; I don’t imagine they issue you one when a family member is murdered. (“Here are your dead loved one’s possessions — and here’s a free bumper sticker for your car.”)
Sammitt the Former Reporter thinks that a bumper sticker like this needs more information to be effective: Was the crime drinking and driving, which in some cases can prove malicious and thus murder? Home invasion? Jealous ex-husband, in a made-for-Lifetime-original-movie scenario? (A Google search brings up this article from the Tampa Tribune, and not much else.) Sammitt the Editor also finds the choice of punctuation disturbing, too: exclamation point excitement!
I wonder how often the driver gets stopped and asked about it. Because that seems like it’s pretty much the whole point of the bumper sticker: Ask me about how my loved one died horrifically. But who’s going to feel comfortable starting a conversation with a stranger with, “So, I couldn’t help but notice there that your loved one was murdered”? That’s downright macabre.
Instead of eliciting sympathy, it just makes me curious about the details about the crime and what the driver thought he’d accomplish by putting this on his bumper. (The awful side of me wonders if he uses it to his advantage, as a free pass when they drive like a tool: “Why, that rat bastard just pulled out and cut me off, and I oughta … oh my God, how horrible about his loved one! No doubt his crippling emotional pain has blinded him to the rights and wrongs of the road. Let’s put this incident behind us so he can move with a clear heart.”)
A woman who saw a link to this post in a group for bereaved parents got in touch with me last night to tell me more about the bumper stickers. She was very eloquent during our chat, so I asked her permission to crib freely from what she had written, and she graciously accepted. Her words are in the italic quotes, after a quick expository paragraph.
Groups like the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children are support and advocacy groups that nobody wants to belong to … but in today’s society, more people than ever are eligible for membership. There are more than four dozen chapters across the U.S., including one in the Phoenix metro area. (Two years after my post was first published, a Forbes contributor penned this first-person piece about the group.)
The reason people have them is not to solicit pity or further questions about how loved ones died. They are simply stating a fact, just as parents who have a bumper sticker that declares, “My child is an honor student at …”
What we do want is for people to see bumper stickers like the one you saw and think. … While murder is freely used as entertainment in this country (i.e., “CSI: Everywhere”), when it is real, with real people attached to it, it strikes a different chord. But the truth is, it does happen, and when it does, the people who were left behind feel shunned.
What we would like is a little compassion. We would like people to come forward in kindness rather than turn in far. We would like people to realize that murder isn’t a television show or a news blurb. … We would like people to do better and to be better. That would be a start.
One last note: It’s not something that gets mentioned at Casa Flor very often, but Mr. Brooks’ parents and grandmother were shotgunned to death at the family home while he was a freshman in college, right before we first became friends. Nearly 30 years later, a glass cabinet in our dining room displays some Brooks family memorabilia, but outsiders who don’t know the back story likely just think it’s just a standard collection of mementos. Unless someone asks specifically about it, we don’t bring it up. (Of course he was the first person I asked about the bumper sticker. He had never heard of it, either.)
|WHAT SAM WORE: 8/2/11|
|The shirt: Tipped-collar polo from Ben Sherman, Soho.|
|The pants: Rebel-fit jeans by Joe’s Jeans, from Nordstrom in Chandler.|
|The shoes: Chukka books by RJ Colt, from Last Chance.|