In 2009, the Freedom From Religion Foundation wanted to put up this billboard in Alabama:
At the time, Lamar Advertising rejected the ad, with the local general manager saying this:
“It was offensive to me,” said Tom Traylor, general manager of Lamar Advertising in Birmingham. “We have the autonomy to decide what’s in the best interests of our company and what’s offensive. I don’t think it was the kind of message we wanted to stand behind.
“You have to know what area of the country you’re in,” he said. “A heavy percent of our population is Christian. That’s who we cater to.”
That’s offensive? A hypothetical that doesn’t even directly slam religion? Seems like a pretty low bar for someone who runs an advertising company…
Jamie Machut, vice president of Lamar of Richmond, said that the ads are scheduled to stay up until early January.
“We support the First Amendment right of advertisers. Please keep in mind that the advertisement is a message from PFOX and not Lamar Advertising Company,” Machut said in a statement.
Yes, these are local decisions, so it’s not necessarily as hypocritical as a certain meme makes it out to be:
But still. There’s something messed up within a company when anti-gay bigotry is permissible in some parts of the country but a harmless pro-atheist slogan can be rejected in another. Surely they could issue a directive from above to clear up what is and isn’t allowed so that billboards can’t just be rejected at the whim of local managers.
(via Joe. My. God.)