My friend Michael Jackson, who has taken on the formidable challenge of unseating an incumbent in the Redondo Beach City Council race, told me his uphill battle just got a little more difficult. It seems a person or people have embarked on their own campaign, a campaign to remove his name from public view.
It seems in the last week, five banners his campaign paid for and placed around the city have been stolen. The first thing I thought when I heard about it is probably the same thing you thought when you heard about it. Who stole the signs?
As I worked through the question, my first thought was someone who dislikes him for some reason stole the signs. That didn’t make sense, I’ve known Michael for a few years and he just doesn’t seem to evoke that kind of response from people. He’s a good guy and people like him. In fact, on the Harbor Commission, I’ve seen him work for harmony at times when I’ve chosen to give up on that possibility.
The next obvious answer would be one of his two opponents in the District 2 city council race. That one’s just too crazy. I can’t imagine a legitimate candidate for Redondo Beach City Council who would automatically assume his or her message was so weak the only chance of winning was to try to remove all of Michael Jackson’s yard signs from the city.
If it was just a rash of random yard sign thefts, the other candidates’ signs would be gone too but they all seem to be in place. That leaves only one group from which a suspect in these thefts could be found, supporters of one of Michael Jackson’s opponents.
No doubt, people get passionate about this political stuff. I’ll be honest. I thought about destroying a yard sign for the party I didn’t support in the 2012 presidential election. There are two reasons I didn’t follow through with those impulses, One, I’m not a sleazebag. Two, I’m not a thief.
I also knew that if my candidate’s message was sincere and persuasive, he’d win the election. More fundamental than that, I had to believe my candidate had a message. If a supporter or supporters of one of the candidates in District 2 feel the best way to win the election is to commit larceny on behalf of their candidate, I have to believe it’s an act of desperation by people who understand their candidate has no message.
You might say that stealing something like a lawn sign that costs $5 or $10 isn’t really stealing but I’d argue strongly against that. Someone had to earn that $5 or $10. Whether or not you agree with the candidate’s beliefs, he has a right to believe them and a right to try to convince other people to support him. Stealing that sign is not only larceny but an attempt to deny him his rights.
So when I say Michael Jackson’s uphill battle to unseat an incumbent got more difficult, I’m saying that unlike a similar attack on his political arguments, he has no way to defend against some sleazebag creaping around in the dark of night trying to steal from him and deny him his rights.
If I was one of Michael Jackson’s opponents and I had nothing to do with stealing the signs, I’d take this opportunity to get out in front of this thing and declare that not only did I have nothing to do with it, I have no knowledge of who might have done it. Because if some whispered news of the sign theft details were to find its way to a candidate and that candidate didn’t alert the police and tell the police everything he or she knew about the sign thefts, that candidate would be complicit in those thefts.
I’m not a lawyer, but I’d guess some charges could be filed against a candidate in addition to the charges filed against the actual thief if the candidate had knowledge of such a theft. It’s probably unlikely a thief would be caught in the act but if the police got lucky and found the person or people who committed these thefts, they would probably want to know whether anyone including a candidate was involved in, or aware of the series of thefts.
Other than the fact five signs have been stolen, the whole discussion is merely speculation. But the idea of reporting a crime intended to help a political candidate raises some interesting ethical questions. Reporting the theft to police wouldn’t be a very nice way for a candidate to repay someone who thinks he or she is helping the cause. But from where I stand, it would be the only moral thing to do, the only way a person worthy of public office could behave.
Now I just hope some good citizen comes forward and helps the police figure out who stole the signs.