DGR Limits of free speech and protest signs Read More


What am I for and what I know

 I'm for the selection of the safest spot for DGRs based upon facts including all the risks for long term storage of nuclear waste.  It's too important an issue to be derailed.

Further, I don't care where it goes as long as it is the best site geologically and strategically with risk minimized.  There are no scientific breakthroughs required.


Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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We see signs all the time that advertise something or other.  We see lots of signs that centre around issues and are not permanent.  Their message disappears quickly.  

We have to agree that signs and repetition do work.  It certainly does in advertising, if properly done.  Signs can reinforce an idea too especially if they use iconic symbols.  Signs can propagandize powerfully.

Remember the ads with Apple's 'Cool guy' vs. Microsoft's Nerd?  Not very classy, but effective.  They used those iconic images for TV and print advertising.  Kind of crass, but effective.

Political signs don't seem to do much unless they strike a fear chord or reinforce a prejudice that the politician wishes to exploit.  Usually they are just a smiling face.  They are a way of informing the base that a candidate has a good smile or uses a good Photoshop professional. 

Do they change votes?  Probably not too many.  One sign that did change a lot of votes was the mushroom cloud with Barry Goldwater implied to be prone to use weapons of mass destruction, if given a chance by the voters.  Goldwater lost overwhelmingly to Lyndon Johnson.  The mushroom icon was tied to Goldwater and the combination became an icon.

When you are trying to sell a product repeating your logo and message certainly does work.  It sure works on the Internet. Look at Google Ads for example. It works in political affairs too, if cleverly done.  You have to create an image and then repeat it over and over again. Dream up an issue and make it work for you by making it iconic

Now how about signs that hope to change public opinion on contentious issues?  I don't think they do much for informed or ill informed people either, but lots of money gets spent on them. 

If people are knowledgeable, they don't need the signs.  If they are not, then the sign's message passes through their consciousness without registration. We saw this happen in Saugeen Shores.

With the Joint Review Panel set to start up again in September finishing up the low and intermediate DGR investigation, the less informed might be confused.  They were saturated with signs for a year and thought they were done with all that.  The issue just faded a bit when Saugeen Shores was disqualified due to the geologic footprint, but that was for the high level waste and the Joint Review Panel was and is studying the low and intermediate waste.

The anti-DGR folks are against the low and intermediate too, but since it is on the Bruce site a few kilometers away, it seems not to rate a sign campaign at least not in Saugeen Shores, but I might be wrong.  Maybe some signs will again stir the base or has everyone had enough of them?

I was interested to see what other communities have to say about the anti-DGR signs.  There was an interesting article published that I repeat for your review in column 2. 

It appears that anti-nuclear and anti-DGR signs cause consternation in other communities too and they bring out strong opinions.  That's to be expected.  The opinions don't seem to promote limiting free speech, but they have to do with what is legitimate and what is not.

The article quotes one person saying protest signs are illegal if they use the Nuclear Trefoil.   I'm not sure of that.  I'm not sure it has been given a proper court test. 

It should be decided some time in a general context.  The question that should be decided concerns what infringes on safety and legitimacy and what does not?  Is there a standard of free speech that does not infringe on safety issues that are recognized as legitimate world-wide?

The regulatory bodies like the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Canada frown on the use of the Trefoil for political purposes.  It's not a political symbol, but has come to be one for some organized groups.

It's a serious image with a serious message that is specific. The nuclear industry and regulatory agencies feel strongly about proper use and this is universal with them.  They've spent a lot of money promoting this image for quick safety recognition.

It could mean lives lost.  The industry tries to ignore the loose use of the Trefoil, however.  The pickets and signs go away to spring up some other place.  Until the courts study it in detail, the signs continue to be used for unintended purposes.

Of course the sign proponents call for 'Free Speech' as long as they have a veto in the sign designs of others. Many who back the Trefoil use also are adamant about bad signage by-laws.  It's a thorny issue even when protected by the free speech umbrella.

Could a company or individual label their product with an improper recycle Trefoil in protest or otherwise?  I think not.  There are a variety of Trefoils as seen in the illustration above.  We know most of them.  There are hundreds more too.

One could make the argument that the Nuclear Trefoil makes a statement that says internationally:

 Caution Radiation Danger!

If we use it 'willy-nilly', it perverts the true    safety meaning.  If we ever were near real radiation, would we like signs to mean what they say?  Could we just wander around the Bruce site ignoring signs and regulations?

Let's look at examples that could cause us to be not so sure about the extent of free speech.

Suppose we are sick of the snarl of electrical wires all over the place.  I know I am.  We have become so used to wires, transformers and poles, we hardly notice.  Before Edison and Tesla, they did not adorn our villages, countryside and cities. 

Could I ask those that agree with me about the snarl of wires to join me in putting up hundreds of signs in a community on private property meaning:  "Electrical Wires above -- Danger"?

Anybody could design it with the typical high tension wire caution logo that we see from time to time, when work is being done nearby.

Further, suppose someone was desirous of having a stop sign at say a particular intersection.  Could they erect a stop sign on their own property near where stop signs usually exist on public land?  It could be made to look like a legitimate stop sign quite easily.

Many might say no, that goes too far along the free speech road. It's over the edge.  The frees speech road does not go there. Rear enders might occur.  It's a perversion of the common meaning of the symbol.  But how different is it from the Nuclear Trefoil?

What reasons could people give against the stop signs?  They would bring up the national symbol for a stop sign and the fact that no by-law has been passed for a stop at the intersections in question.  But then again it is free speech out near the end of the road isn't it?

I'm sure you could dream up all kinds of other examples.  They somehow are related to shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theatre.  We know that goes over the edge of free speech, but where is the real limit? 

What if a person was concerned with speeding on a local residential street.  He/she could design a rather clever sign with a naked mermaid adorning it. (They all are naked, aren't they?)

The sign might say: "What's your hurry sailor?" 

This actually happened in our community.

The sign was cleverly done and the town and the resident came to an agreement to post a 40km speed limit sign in place of the curvy woman.  The mermaid was more effective, but alas replaced with normal signage.

There was not much fuss and the resident and the Town of Saugeen Shores did the right thing along with increased patrol

But what if such signs adorned 5% of the local lawns?  Would visitors think they had to fear speeders at every intersection?   Would such a sign please the majority of the population for more than a few days?  Probably not, don't you think?  It might be fun to see the variety for a while, but it would wear thin.

Anyway, read in column 2 what another area thinks about the improper use of the Nuclear Trefoil.

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

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Here is an article from the Flin Flon Reminder.  It crystallizes their arguments about the use of the Trefoil in their area.  See what you think..

The Reminder

Protests can't use radioactive logo: CLC

JUNE 27, 2014 Jonathon Naylor

"A committee studying the potential storage of nuclear waste near Creighton is calling for certain protest signs opposing the project to be taken down.

The Community Liaison Committee voted Tuesday to urge area municipalities to remove any signs in public places that feature the international symbol for radiation.

CLC member Leslie Beck said citizens have the right to voice their concerns around nuclear waste but that symbol is reserved for sites where radioactive material is actually present.

"I would not want people to become complacent with a sign that designates that there could be radiation in the area," Beck told the meeting, held at The Prospector Inn banquet room.

Beck said signs bearing the symbol are used at sites such as Saskatchewan's Cigar Lake uranium mine and "you have to take them seriously."

Ron Black, another CLC member, said it is in fact illegal to use the symbol where there is no radiation.

CLC member Kari Lcntowicz, who works in the nuclear industry, said if someone at her workplace has a radiation symbol on their hard hat, the hard hat is confiscated.

"It's not permitted to say that your head is a source of radiation I mean, your head simply is not," Lentowicz said with a gentle laugh.

Les Oystryk made a motion that the municipal councils in Creighton, Flin Flon and Denare Beach be asked in writing to remove "inappropriate or illegal signs" pertaining to nuclear waste.

The motion narrowly survived a 4-3 vote, with Buz Trevor among the opponents.

"It's not our position to ask the councils to deal with these signs," Trevor said. "To me this is a free speech issue and 1 think we [should] just leave it."

But even Nadine Smart, a vocal nuclear waste opponent who has been attending CLC meetings, agreed that the motion is "totally fair.""




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Sunday, July 27, 2014