Reverse mirror

Get back at religious bumper stickers:
mirror image messaging
by Jim Walker
25 October 2003
Rapier wit? This is the end of the twentieth century! I'm using a laser sighted under-and-over twin barrelled wit, with a 7.62 mm floating breech pulse rifle firing caseless one-liners on top, and a 40mm explosive gag launcher underneath. For backup I've got a 14mm pump shotgun firing flechette rounds with 10 barbed comments in each, which can also shoot sabot ego-piercing rounds. Of course when all else fails, there's always the trusty flamethrower which I've strapped to my pulse rifle with duct tape in the approved style.

-- Niall McAuley

Don't you hate it when some religious nut pulls their car in front of you and you have to stare at their preachy bumper sticker, especially if you have to sit behind them in slow traffic or at a long traffic light? Many Christians love to force their religious messages upon others. The plain Christian fish symbol doesn't bother me so much as those who use symbols to belittle non-believers or to preach their Christian message to others. The following lists some irritating examples:

Real Men Love Jesus
Jesus is coming
Darwin is dead, Jesus is alive!
Don't follow me, follow Jesus
Child of God on board
Come to Jesus, come to life
Get closer to Jesus
Got Jesus?
No Jesus, No Peace; Know Jesus, Know peace
No Credit? No Problem! Jesus Paid Your Debt
Yield to Christ
My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter
Without the Bread of Life, you're toast
Ch_ _ch What's missing?

Now don't get me wrong, I don't wish to suppress anyone's freedom of expression. In fact, I'd rather know when a religious fanatic approaches me; that way I can either avoid him or respond with my message. Unfortunately you can't easily respond to a religious nut-head while driving behind another vehicle, and this makes it all the more irritating. So what to do?

Of course I could paste my own non-religious sticker on my car, but this only plays into the very game that the religious people play. I just don't like forcing my ideas onto others, whether it comes from politics, religion, atheism, or commercial advertising, especially when driving. Besides, putting an atheistic bumper sticker on your car could upset some zealot truck driver and he might just decide to ram his eighteen-wheeler into your rear end. Now what will you do?

Imagine if you could reply with a message but only for the offending car in front of you? What if you could safely give him a response, yet you could remove your message as soon as he leaves? I have discovered a way:

Mirror image messages

You probably already know that ambulances use the reverse image of the word "ambulance" on the front of their ambulance to warn drivers ahead of them. Well, why not do the same by making your own reversed image message?

If you print a message on a card in reverse, and mount it inside your car's front windshield, the driver ahead of you (looking through their rear view mirror) will see your message in normal non-reversed print. Now they will have to deal with your message while sitting in traffic. You will see them looking in their mirror, they will see your message (and your happy face). They'll try to hide the fact that they looked, but you will know that they looked and they will know you know. Oh, what exquisite retribution! If nothing else, you might teach them a lesson. It should prove very embarrassing for them and perhaps they will realize that their bumper sticker message can upset others, and they might think about removing it. Nah. But nevertheless, you will have loads of fun relieving your frustration, which will make you a safer and happier driver. Mirror imaging also produces another nifty feature: you need to have a mirror to read it and that means only the driver in front of you can read it. This makes it personal and focused without upsetting others around you.

You can easily make these mirror image messages if you have a computer printer, a graphic program, and a method of attaching it to your car.

To make a mirror image message, type in a message in your graphic program, format it to the size you want and then use the "flip horizontal" feature (found in most graphic programs) to mirror the message. Then print it out on a standard 11" x 8.5" piece of white paper (use grayscale or color to print it out instead of black & white). Cut around the message to a convenient size (5.5" x 3.5" for example).

Religion kills

Tip: If your graphic program has an antialiasing feature for text, use it as it will look more professional and will help eliminate the jaggies (which gives the reason why you should print in grayscale instead of B&W).

For a few sample mirror images that you can print out, click here.

Attachment ideas: Magnets and Velcro

You will need to protect the message. Photo laminating sheets work great for holding and protecting messages. Normally people use them for photos and driver's licences but they work great for paper as well. 3M makes 4" x 6" self-laminating sheets (item number: PL900E, or PL900G, matt) which consist of two sheets of plastic (one of them has a self adhesive backing). They cost around 4 dollars for a package of five. You can also get 5" x 7" sheets (item number PL901). Simply place your printed message between the two sheets of plastic and seal them together with your fingers. You now have a protected plastic card. You can purchase photo laminating sheets from most photo, stationery, or Wal-Mart stores.

3M photo laminating sheets

Tip: Don't make the plastic border around your card too narrow (<.13") as this can cause delamination. For a 4"x 6" sheet print out your message at around 5.5"x3.5". This will give a nice wide border.

Now you will need a way to attach the plastic card on your car. Placing it on your rear view mirror works great. You can attach it with a hook, Velcro, clips, magnets, or any means that proves convenient for you. I like using magnets because I can easily and quickly attach and remove the message without worrying about trying to align the hook to the hole or fiddling with clips, etc. (I haven't tried Velcro yet, but this may work better for you than magnets).

Self adhesive magnet strips work well as long as the magnetic field is strong enough. You can get magnet strips in most stationary stores, Home-Depot, and dollar stores. Simply cut to length and attach the adhesive side to the back side of your plastic message card. Then attach a similar magnetic strip to the back side of your rear view mirror. Note that you may find that the strips have a low magnetic field and the cards may not stay put. If this proves the case, place a steel strip on one of the magnets. The magnet will actually attach stronger to steel than it will to another magnetic strip. Of course you can also glue a steel strip in place of one of the magnetic strips.

Mirror image message

Mirror image card

A downside of using magnets: Some magnetic strips have such a weak magnetic field that the card can easily fall off, especially when driving on a bumpy road. Heat will also weaken the magnetic field over time.

Although I have not tried it yet, velcro strips may work better than magnets. You can buy self-adhesive strips at Home-Depot or many Office supply stores.

Attachment method: Visor

Reverse mirror image
Left visor flipped down

An even easier method of attaching mirror image messages involves using your front windshield visor (although this doesn't allow as quick a method of changing cards as do magnets or Velcro). At most car part suppliers (I got mine at Wal-Mart), you can purchase CD disk holders that strap on to your visor. These holders come with two elastic straps (spaced approximately 6" apart) that allow you to place a cardboard message behind the straps.

Cut a strip of stiff cardboard approximately 9" x 5" (or whatever size best fits your visor). Then print out your mirror image message on a standard white piece of paper and cut it, to the same size as the cardboard backing and scotch-tape (or glue) it to the cardboard strip. Then simply place it behind the elastic straps of the CD holder.

By using the visor attachment method, you can simply flip down the visor to flash your message to your intended victim. You can even have two messages: one the right visor and another on the left visor.

Of course, you could also use Velcro or magnetic strips to attach the card to the visor, which would give you a double advantage.

No doubt some of you will discover other creative ways of attaching mirror image messages. Let me know what you came up with.

Examples of CD visors: 1, 2, 3, 4

Hand Holding Method

For the easiest and cheapest method (and the most irritating to your victims), simply hand hold a mirror image to your intended target. Unfortunately, you might have to hold up your card for a long period of time before your target sees it. Of course you could honk your horn to get the attention of your victim, but this in-their-face approach could put you at your life's risk, especially considering that some angry religious people will defend their beliefs to death. I don't recommend the hand holding method.

With easily removable mirrored messages, you can make up just one generic label, or several, each with a unique message to correspond to a particular kind of bumper sticker. Add graphics, color or anything you want.

To "Real Men Love Jesus" sticker, you might respond with: "Men who love Jesus are gay"

To "Jesus is coming", you might reply with: "Jesus won't come; he's a virgin"

To "No Jesus, No Peace; Know Jesus, Know Peace," you might counter with: "Know Jesus, No Peace"

Make up your own messages. The following list provides some examples:

Religious Bumper Stickers are Rude
Your Religion Offends Me
Avoid the Addiction,
just Say "NO" to Religion
Protect Wildlife:
Feed a Christian
to a Lion, Today
outlives all gods
Know Jesus, no sex.
No Jesus, know sex!
Jesus in trunk
with Ex-wife
Apes evolved
from Creationists
Jesus is Lard
Christianity and Science
don't mix
Want World Peace?
Quit Religion.
Agent of Satan, but my duties
are largely ceremonial
During communion,
I ate Jesus and pooped him out
Garbage In -- Gospel Out
I don't believe in
God, Jesus or Mother Goose.
Religion Kills
Secular Governments Work.
Religious Governments Fail
Replace Believing with Thinking
Religion: The Cause of Terrorism
Religion + Government= Dark Ages
What Schools Need:
A Moment of SCIENCE
Outhouses are more
useful than churches
Nothing fails like prayer
Faith is to the human
what sand is to the ostrich
Faith means not wanting to know
Evolution is both fact and theory.
Creationism is neither.
I got it right on my first birth.
Freethinkers evolve,
Christians devolve
God? Jesus? Spooks?
I gave up superstition a long time ago.
Christ died for YOU?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
If you don't believe in me,
that makes YOU an atheist
The Bible:
A Grim Fairy Tale
The Greatest Threat to Freedom:
The Religious Right
Freedom Depends
on Freethinkers
Christians are Myth-informed
Belief in God:
A crime of the intellect
Other Ideas
Those with a commercial interest, surely this idea would make a marketable product. Make it easy for the consumer to use the message cards. Make the cards durable, easily readable, and include the magnets, Velcro (or whatever attachment method works best) into the cards without the consumer having to glue or measure anything. Include the attachment device (magnet, clip, or whatever) for the rear view mirror or visor. Include a simple installation sheet. Above all, make it inexpensive.
We need a way to communicate at night. For those with an electronic bent, how about an LED (or backlit LCD) messaging system with a mirror image output? This could include programmable messages through a USB input. One could type their messages on their computer or laptop, download the messages to the LED device and the user could select the message via several buttons. Warning, some states may have outlawed active or lighted message systems for vehicles.
Send me photos of your reverse images
I would love to see how you implemented your mirror image message on your car. Maybe you came up with a better way of attachment or thought of a creative slogan. Email me a photo!
The Future
Consider the future state of irritating bumper stickers if the idea of mirror image messaging catches on. Ask yourself if you would put a self-serving bumper sticker on your car if you knew that someone would respond with a mirror image message. I certainly wouldn't want to sit in traffic with a religious hot-head replying to my Freethought message, and I suspect most Christians wouldn't like it either. So the purpose of all of this aims to help eliminate the whole idea of self-serving messages entirely. After all, there occurs a time and place for everything, and attempting to proselytize your religious or political beliefs in traffic not only posses a danger, but can send the wrong message to others.

Ian Urbina, a reporter for the New York Times, saw this web page and included a short chapter about my bumpersticker technique in his book, Life's Little Annoyances: Tales of People Who Just Can't Take It Anymore. I found it a delightful little book and I highly recommend it. It provides many anecdotes and inventive tips on how to get back at pet peeves and annoyances.
Purchase it from here.

Sample mirror images