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Note: obvious dangers can be dangerous

Posted by Christopher Shea  August 25, 2009 11:06 AM

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A contribution to the "Attention Please" project

The fight for freedom has many fronts, observes Trevor Butterworth of Stats.org, pointing to the work of a libertarian protest group in Britain. Members of the Manifesto Club ("For Freedom in Everyday Life") may not need the same bravery as the protesters in Tehran, to put it mildly, but they have targeted for rollback an inarguable area of creeping government intervention: warning-sign overkill.

As part of a project called Freedom Summer, the Manifesto Club is publicizing its "Attention Please" project. The project began last year with a photo essay by Tom Mower, a young graduate of the of the Royal College of Art, featuring signs warning Brits against, for example, approaching a jagged tree stump in a park, stumbling over a tiny crack in a tiled floor, and walking mindlessly into traffic. ("Caution: Vehicles in Road.")

Commenting on the photo-essay, the University of Kent sociologist Frank Furedi wrote: "The photos provide striking illustrations of how risk management has turned into a performance."

The club subsequently asked for more photographic examples from the public, and many of these--ranging from the arguably overcautious to genuine theater-of-the-absurd--can be found on the Web site attention-please.co.uk. Most of the examples are British, but a few Americans chimed in, too.

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