Bumper Stickers

by Kieran Healy on October 22, 2003

David Bernstein at Volokh posts about his favorite bumper stickers. The central mystery about bumper stickers in the U.S., by the way, is why they are called “bumper stickers” in the first place seeing as Americans call bumpers “fenders.” But I digress.

David’s favorite stickers are determined wholly by his politics. One of his “all-time favorites” is “If you can’t read this, thank the public schools,” which doesn’t seem that interesting to me. (Its counterpart, “If you can read this, thank a teacher,” isn’t much good, either.) His least favorite ones endorse lefty sentiments that he has no time for. Two of my favorite stickers comment on religious matters, though they endorse differing world views. The first is “In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be empty.” The second, which I’ve only seen once (on a car in New Jersey), is “Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re an asshole.”



Ishbadiddle 10.22.03 at 1:22 am

I saw one recently said that said: “Save the Whales — Turn them in for Valuable Prizes!”


George 10.22.03 at 1:26 am

“In case of rapture, can I have your car?”


Joshua 10.22.03 at 1:37 am

My favorite bumper sticker:

Don’t have strong opinions about issues you don’t understand


PZ Myers 10.22.03 at 2:06 am

Maybe it’s a regionalism, or just my bumpkinish knowledge of cars, but I’ve always called those bits at the front and back of the car “bumpers”. Fenders are the flangy bits over the wheels.


Jason McCullough 10.22.03 at 2:07 am

I *think* I’ve seen “Nuke A Gay Baby Whale For Jesus,” but it might have been on a shirt.


JakeV 10.22.03 at 2:08 am

Hm, where I come from (in America) we call bumpers “bumpers.”

I agree that Bernstein’s favorite bumper stickers are pretty lame, and not much better than his least favorites.


Blue 10.22.03 at 2:34 am

A “fender” refers to removable piece of metal on the front sides of a car. (A “quarter panel” or “quarter” refers to the welded panels on the rear.) A “bumper” is the protective structure on the front or rear designed to limit damage in low-speed collisions.


--kip 10.22.03 at 2:43 am

Personal fave, though you maybe have to have seen a lot of bumper stickers to get it:

“My carpenter is a bossy Jew.”


Dan Simon 10.22.03 at 2:47 am

I recently saw a bright red bumper sticker bearing the statement, “if this sticker is blue, you’re driving too fast.”


anon 10.22.03 at 2:51 am

another good one, that belongs with the one from new jersey:

‘you say tomato,
i say fuck you’

i find this bit of gratuitous hostility funnier than the one from new jersey.


wired mennonite 10.22.03 at 2:55 am

My favorite (given to me by my daughter) is “Visualize Whirled Peas”. And it is indeed on my bumper.


dave 10.22.03 at 3:00 am

Partisan, and I laughed.

“Anyone Else for President”

“It’s not over ’til your brother counts the votes”

(generally seen on the back of a van)

“Don’t laugh: Your daughters inside”


Frank Wilhoit 10.22.03 at 3:08 am

“So Many Pedestrians…So Little Time”


JW 10.22.03 at 3:19 am

I have to share the _worst_ bumper sticker I ever saw, in Memphis (my home town): “If we’d known you’d be so much trouble, we’d have picked our own damn cotton.”


laura 10.22.03 at 3:46 am

The one I’m most sick of is that damned practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty. Inoffensive if a little too earnest the first time, but if you grow up in Northampton Mass it gets real old. Especially when sighted on a blue volvo station wagon.

My favorite, which I’ve only seen once: Driving drunk? Unbuckle your seatbelt.


dan 10.22.03 at 4:13 am

I actually got a greeting card once with the “Jesus loves you” slogan, but with the regional difference “but everyone else thinks you’re a dickhead”.


Norbizness 10.22.03 at 4:26 am

It was funny when it came out: “My Child Beat The Crap Out Of Your Honor Student”, and, of course, the Jim Hightower-influenced “If God Had Meant Us To Vote, He Would Have Given Us Candidates”


Katherine 10.22.03 at 5:57 am

I come from a family that had Too Many Bumper Stickers (including one of the volokh blog’s least favorites), so I cannot appreciate them. Except for maybe the ones that say “TIM JONES FOR REGISTER OF PROBATE!!!!!!”

So what car has the highest rate of bumper stickers per vehicle? Volvos might make a run, but I still say a Honda Civic hatchback.


ogged 10.22.03 at 6:29 am

With my apologies (seen once, in Boston):

“Jesus is coming, stick out your tongue.”


Nabakov 10.22.03 at 7:39 am

“‘To the Workers of the world, I am sorry.’ – Karl Marx”
“Bush/Cheney ’04: This time, elect us!”
“Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.”
“I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”
“Bush/Cheney ’04: Compassionate Colonialism.”


Keith M Ellis 10.22.03 at 7:44 am

Can I say that advocacy type bumper stickers of any stripe fill me with a deep desire to accelerate and ram the damn vehicle?

I think there should be a bumper sticker: “I hate you and everything you stand for.”


Brett Bellmore 10.22.03 at 11:03 am

Here in Detroit, (I work in the automotive industry.) we certainly call them bumpers.

My favorite: (In small print.) “If you can read this, YOU’RE TOO CLOSE!”


Stentor 10.22.03 at 2:03 pm

“Born just fine the first time.”


tim 10.22.03 at 2:17 pm

dating myself, i can recall a bumper sticker in the days of the Chicago 7 back in the 60s. It said “Free the Indianapolis 500”


david 10.22.03 at 3:04 pm

Best bumper sticker I’ve seen is “Jesus Saves… but Gretzky gets the rebound and scores!”


Kate Nepveu 10.22.03 at 4:04 pm

I never thought there would be anything that I really wanted to put on my car.

However, I’ve seen two of these in the past few months (one bumper sticker, one decal on the rear window) and I am strongly tempted:

Visualize Using Your Turn Signal.

(Pet peeve, can you tell?)


fritz 10.22.03 at 4:18 pm

My wife won’t have them on our car, so they go on my basement beer fridge. My current favorite is:

“They can have my penis when they pry it from my cold dead hand!” (with an American flag as background)


Hoodie Craw 10.22.03 at 4:33 pm

Police motor-cyclists, in my town, like to annotate their license plates. My favorite?

“Smile. I could be behind you.”


William 10.22.03 at 4:38 pm

I’ve recently seen one reading:

Doing my part to piss off the Religious Right.

I sorta like that.

I recently gave a conservative Christian friend a ride home after work. When we got to my car, she immediately checked the back-end for bumper stickers. She was suprised a liberal like me didn’t have any bumper stickers supporting causes on the back of my vehicle.


pj 10.22.03 at 4:43 pm

I’ve always thought that “Mean People Suck” is a great bumper sticker, even though I think bumper stickers are awful.


Matt Weiner 10.22.03 at 5:26 pm

Did you know that that one has been picked up by the Hasidim? I saw a lot of “Random acts of kindness will help bring Moshiach” stickers in my old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Some sort of culture clash, I think.

(It could also have been one bumper sticker which I passed every day.)


eszter 10.22.03 at 5:32 pm

I don’t mind bumper stickers, they make waiting for a red light to turn green more interesting.. and some make me smile.

I have some, although most require a bit of knowledge so they may not make that much sense in general. One is “free the mouse” and the other says “I love Tinky Winky” where the heart for “love” is in the colors of the rainbow.


Jay Conner 10.22.03 at 5:45 pm

Listen for the bombs ! Watch for the rockets !
Pay no attention to those hands in your pockets !

I don’t vote, I don’t whine.
I think everythings just fine.


Ed 10.22.03 at 6:52 pm

Jesus Is Coming.
Look Busy.


jsg 10.22.03 at 7:14 pm

I want one that says:

Bush is a divider, not a uniter!


Decnavda 10.22.03 at 8:02 pm

Re: “I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Isn’t that what Kissenger and Arafat did?


Crow 10.22.03 at 8:11 pm

Blue, rear quarters are removeable on body-on-frame constructed vehicles (as opposed to unibody) like light trucks and older passenger cars.


jw mason 10.22.03 at 8:14 pm

A friend gave me one a couple eyars ago that says “Marxists get crazy laid.” You know it’s true…


Harry Tuttle 10.22.03 at 8:25 pm

Most unintentionaly hilarious: “Soular powered by the son”


Brandon 10.22.03 at 8:47 pm

My favorite isn’t political or religious:

“It’s been so long since I had sex that I forget who gets tied up.”


Randy Paul 10.22.03 at 10:29 pm

In 1977 in San Francisco I remember one that said “Free Patti – at McDonald’s.”


Julia Grey 10.22.03 at 10:29 pm

“Feminazi On Board.”


nick edwards 10.22.03 at 11:43 pm

I always liked:

“Militant Agnostic – I don’t know, and you don’t either!”


Jimmy 10.22.03 at 11:58 pm


“I’m not in the NRA and I vote too.”


Yukoner 10.23.03 at 12:37 am

The “Mean People Suck” sticker has been around a long time. Have you seen the follow ups? I’ve seen two:

“Mean People Suck, Nice People Swallow”


“Mean People Suck, Nice People Lick”

Both rude but both made me laugh.


lionfish 10.23.03 at 2:41 am

Re: Visualize Using Your Turn Signal

Not a bumper sticker, but this reminds me of my favorite No Parking sign, seen on someone’s gated driveway near Muir Beach in CA:

Visualize Getting Towed


jokerman 10.23.03 at 4:28 am

I recently gave a conservative Christian friend a ride home after work.

Yeah? Didja score?

(ducking & running)


sockeye 10.23.03 at 4:29 am

Jesus: Another Carpenter Who Promised to Come Back One Day & Finish the Job


apostropher 10.23.03 at 5:00 am

“God used to be my co-pilot, but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him.”


lubberland 10.23.03 at 1:12 pm

favorite bumper sticker from the eighties,west coast US:

“millions for beer,and not a penny for defense”


triticale 10.23.03 at 1:37 pm

“proud parents of an honor student at home”

“my boss is a non-union carpenter”


tim 10.23.03 at 2:55 pm

The award for anatomical ignorance should go to “If you want to get laid, just crawl up a chicken’s ass and wait”.


eg 10.23.03 at 3:47 pm

“all extremists should be shot”


Betty 10.24.03 at 2:46 am

I heard that in Boston 1974 or so (home of

“Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts”)

another popular sticker was

“Impeach the Cox-sacker!”

More recently I’ve seen

“Bush for Lawn Ornament”

Not as good as the apocryphal

“Lick Bush in 1988”
(maybe 2004 instead?)


RLG 10.24.03 at 10:00 pm

Can I play?

None other than Jonah Goldberg endorsed my idea for this sticker: “Practice Random Acts of Self-Restraint.”

One of my favorites (that I’ve only seen once): “If It’s Not A Child, You’re Not Pregnant.”


Bruce Moomaw 10.25.03 at 1:26 am

“Don’t Drink And Park — Accidents Cause People”.


clew 10.25.03 at 8:53 am

Tim, hens have cloacas, the one-tube solution.


jim fulner 12.10.03 at 7:00 am

My Two favoirtes are both on my car.

The “WWJB : Who Would Jesus Bomb?”

and “Gun’s don’t kill people, abortion clinics kill people.”

Yes they’re both on my car, its called being a libertarian.


jeff linnert 01.24.04 at 12:55 am

How about:

“Fresh horses and more whiskey for my men.”


Rachel 01.28.04 at 2:01 am

I hate that sparkley rich girl bumper sticker “Spoiled”… I told my husband to put that bumper sticker on the back of his beat up 89 Buick… Then that bumper sticker would be cool!

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