Once upon a time, there was a used car lot next to the University. Now it’s a parking lot for the University faculty and staff. There’s a fence on the perimeter. The fence still had some ugly razor wire along the top, but since the fence no longer goes all the way around, the razor wire no longer served a security function. In other words, the razor wire was purely decorative, or anti-decorative if you will.
I despise razor wire.
In the spring of 2003, I made a personal crusade out of getting this removed. I volunteered to remove it myself. When my offer wasn’t accepted, I printed out a full color picture of the razor wire with snagged plastic bags and the University’s name prominently visible in the background. I sent a copy of the photo to the president.
The razor wire was removed in short order.
That’s a testimony to the power of the photographic image. The photo was alarming. To anyone who cares about the University, this picture was actually slightly sickening.
In fact, such was the visceral power of this image that I thought twice about posting it on Flickr. Maybe I should have thought three times. But when I was sorting through old photos last summer, up it went. And there it remained in relative obscurity — until now.
A couple days ago, the photo was used on the Poverty in America blog to illustrate a point about how hard economic times affect college students.
Because the posting contained the name of the University, it got the attention of the folks over in the Media Relations office. It became a source of some small embarrassment. The blogger removed the photo from her post, and I replaced the original with a highly abstracted version.
It’s interesting to note that if the blogger hadn’t done her homework and gone the extra mile to note the name and location of this institution — fodder for a Google Alert — this would never have come to light. I have made it my personal policy to avoid referring to the University by name to avoid just such issues.
I’m happy to report that everyone involved conducted themselves with civility and respect — even myself, or so I hope. No angry accusations or recriminations. I didn’t tell demand the blogger remove the post, nor was I ordered to take the photo offline — I replaced it of my own initiative as a show of good faith.