Easter Billboard

Free speech is one thing, but come within a mile of religion and people are going to get tweaked. In Orange County, FL, a week before Easter, a billboard suddenly appeared, reading simply: “All religions are fairy tales.” Almost overnight, a nearby restaurant watched business drop by 2/3. People started calling the media. I’m imagining the reports went something like this: “Hello, media? Someone is expressing an opinion and I have to be exposed to it when I drive by!”

I think the business angle is especially interesting – it provides an instant concrete measurement of public opinion. What is it about religion that strikes so deeply? I can hardly imagine another opinion being expressed on a billboard – no matter how controversial – that could impact local businesses on such a broad scale. It’s just weird.

The billboard company claims the signage was not paid for, but put up in the middle of the night by anonymous pranksters.

Update: The article has been removed from WFTV’s site without explanation. Google for coverage elsewhere.

via Sean Graham

5 Replies to “Easter Billboard”

  1. Heck, I go to church, and it mightily pisses me off how upset people get at things like this billboard.

    Oh noes! I bein’ expozed to contrary opinionz! Do Not Want!

    I’ll let you in on a secret. The vast majority of Christians scare the heebie jeebies out of me. Luckily, I am firmly convinced that my fellow co-religionists are unintentionally hell bent (heh) on marginalizing Christianity. I suspect that in the next generation or two, in-your-face Christianity will be as rare here as it is in “secular” Europe.

    And quite frankly, that’s just fine by me.

  2. I’m a little dubious about the “business down by 2/3rds” claim. That’s based on the restaurant’s claims, and the way I read it is that he’s saying EASTER business was down by that much. Pretty tough to verify a direct relationship, I’d say.

    “The billboard came down around 4:00 Friday afternoon and nearby business owners are relieved. Straub’s restaurant can replace the sign with the night’s specials.”

    Seems possible that a lot of the real offense was taken by the restaurant owner himself, who can apparently advertise specials on that billboard even though it’s not his (no mention of whether or not he pays some fee to use the billboard in that manner.)

    At any rate, I’d be curious to hear a story about someone actually putting up that kind of billboard advertisement without the billboard company being involved. Seems like that’d be quite a guerrilla operation.

    Great sign, though.

  3. Looks like the article has returned to the original URL. Weird.

    Yes, we can’t verify independently of course. Could be an exaggeration. Still an interesting data point.

    I was also confused by the statement that the restaurant owner could put his own specials up there. What restaurant puts up daily billboard-sized specials? That could have been a badly worded conjecture by the journalist, who knows?

    There’s actually a lot out there on billboard-sized guerilla info dissemination. Try Googling “culture jammers” or “culture jamming.”

  4. Let me set the record straight. After a week of many hours explaining to people on the phone and in person that STRAUBS SEAFOOD did not own that billboard, I had to put on MY marquee that ” we do not own that billboard”. We did not put daily specials on that billboard. Obviously parts of the story get lost as it gets handed down from website to website. Many people thought because it is on our property (we lease) we were responsible for it. many people were mad, many thought it was funny. i.squib know the whole story b4 you comment and point fingers. Who is responsible for my time that was wasted? Why did the owner of the billboard deny? His denial to avoid confrontation now raises eyebrows with my customers on my credibility. If you have the balls to do something like that, have the balls to admit/sign it. PEACE

  5. Steve,

    Sorry, my bad. Next time b4 I comment on someone’s blog with a conjecture where I say, “Seems possible that…”, I’ll make sure I know the whole story.

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