Friday, October 10, 2008


I am going to ask a question that may, on the surface, seem political in nature. It's not intended to be. I am attempting to flush out deeper meaning behind what we do, what we see, and how we interpret the world. I am setting this post up, not as a debate, but as a place where one can simply answer the questions, from his or her perspective, and then let it be.

Got it? No partisan comments on this one, kiddos, and no arguing or debating. Since I have addressed this issue in one way (although it was political) I am refraining from giving my own perspective this go around. If you want to know what I think, then you can email me personally, and I will respond.

Okay. Here we go.

I was reading a blog this morning. The person used Obama's middle name. It got me to thinking. Why is that person using his middle name? What is the intention of this author in using his middle name when the author did not use the middle name of anyone else mentioned in the story? (I'm not linking that blog becuase it is incidental to this discussion.)

That line of thought moved to the sign that Larry originally posted about, and the one that KSPR 33 picked up. The following questions (as opposed to the questions in the previous paragraph) are what I am really interested in.

What is wrong with this billboard? It's been touted as racist and divisive and hateful, at least by some. My question is this: How exactly does this billboard promote racism, hate or divisiveness?

The words describe at least one person's belief of what will happen if the subject of the billboard is elected. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the assertions are true. Let's not parse them to be true, mostly true, half true, partly true or not true. Because perspective could influence the argument. Let's just say that the statements are mostly true – true enough to be said and get the point across.

The man's name is Barack Hussein Obama. So is using his full name, which is factual, somehow racist? Does the argument change if the author of the billboard (or blog or media outlet) uses the middle names of all the candidates? Why, exactly, would we use anyone's middle name in a political debate where the person does not promote their middle name? Does it depend on the middle name and how it is used? Can intention and motivation change the answer?

I have plenty of comics in my house that use illustrations similar to this one. We see them everyday in editorial cartoons.

Is that what has elicted the outrage from some people? Does the turban have certain connotations? If so, are those connotations positive or negative? Does that answer change depending on perspective or affiliation?

Rhetorically speaking, what is occuring in this billboard? What is being said? From a marketing and advertising point of view, what is the superficial and deeper meanings of this billboard? What, if anything, makes the billboard racist or intolerant? I think the answers to these fundamental questions should serve as the foundation for other discussions. Perhaps, we will learn a lot about ourselves and our beliefs?


Sky Girl said...

I've already talked about it from a political perspective, so I'll mostly refrain here.

But I will say, because I haven't before, that the quotation marks around the name "Hussein" do bother me. It makes it look like that is a name he goes by, which he does not.

Also, I think this is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts.

Complaint Department Manager said...

Hey Beavis, you said, "it's parts".

Anonymous said...

For me, this sign is very offensive for the following reasons:
-silly caricature of him wearing a turban...he is not Muslim, and if he was an American who is a Muslim...what's wrong with that?
-His middle name is in red and is in quotation marks. I think this all incinuates that he is supposed to be "dangerous"...a "terrorist"...not true.

Also not true are the remarks noted below in the sign. The only thing I believe we would have more of is taxes (for the rich only) and maybe some more gun regulation...maybe. But I suppose that is a whole nother post?

Ms. Fat Jack