Yesterday, I took my vehicle in to have a little procedure done.

The doctor told me the plastic surgery should cost a pretty penny – $822 to be exact.

I’m typically not a vain person, but I felt that my poor Jeep Cherokee could not drive any further without fixing its deformity so that it could return to its pristine state.

Last Wednesday, the phrase “No Blood 4 Oil” was carved into my Jeep.

I’m not typically a political person, but I’m aware enough to know that the abuse my car suffered is a protest of the war in Iraq.

What I want to know, though, is how vandalizing my car with a political slogan will help the situation in Iraq.

As a journalist, I am very aware of the power my First Amendment rights gives me. It is my right to freedom of the press that allows me to express my opinion in a column, cover sports and do my job every day.

The First Amendment also gives people the right to assemble and protest. This freedom is important because it allows Americans to demonstrate their political views in a forum through which they can be heard. I appreciate people who are strong in their convictions and consistent with their beliefs. I respect their ability to put themselves out there regardless of the judgment and ridicule they will, no doubt, encounter. That is why protest is an important exercise – it gives people a venue through which they can be heard.

Vandalism is not a forum for political activism. Nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it say, “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of vandalizing.” I do not, under any circumstances, respect people who express themselves and their beliefs by destructing the property of others.

UCSB is a very political campus, as was evident by the protest to President Bush’s inauguration. I watched the protest from my office window and heard protestors chanting, “No blood for oil,” among other catchphrases. Whether or not I agreed with them is not important. What is important is that those protestors had something to say and used their First Amendment rights to do it. Their views were heard loud and clear in an appropriate way.

Etching the same slogan into the side of my car that the protestors were chanting is not an effective method of being heard. Only I and my innocent car were affected by such an action. Some may argue that politicizing one car is going one step further in diminishing the problems overseas. I would argue that there are much more effective ways to get the same point across, such as using any one of our First Amendment rights.

Furthermore, I find it ironic and hypocritical that a person inadvertently preaching peace in the Middle East chose a less-than-peaceful method through which to demonstrate their message.

One person can make a difference. I do believe that. However, that one person can only make a difference if he or she finds an appropriate way in which to do so. Vandalizing one SUV in protest of the war in Iraq is not going to make an impact.

Lauren Creamer is the Daily Nexus sports editor.