Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Has a billboard ever been taken down this quickly in NYC?

The billboard I blogged about last week was taken down after a single day.  Al Sharpton was set to hold a press conference decrying the billboard.  According to Planned Parenthood, the billboard was "offensive and disturbing," and its creators used "divisive messaging around race to restrict access to medical care."  I agree with some of the commenters who pointed out the problematic statements about genocide on the website listed on the billboard, but I still believe that the message on the billboard itself is an important conversation-starter.


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I would guess that you don't own an "I Love NY" button.

The billboard was taken down by the advertising company that manages the billboard. It was not taken down by the city.

The billboard did offend those who are strongly pro-choice, but it also offended black people who saw the message as critical of black women.

I think we would be getting into literary theory if we debated whether the billboard could or should be interpreted independently of the message its creators wanted to send. But in the New York Daily News the day the billboard went up, Stephen Broden of the board of directors of Life Always said, "We celebrate our history, but our future is in jeopardy as a genocidal plot is carried out through abortion." I really don't see how you can defend the billboard without defending the message of Life Always that Planned Parenthood is a racist organization intent on exterminating black people.

Posted by: David Nickol | Feb 28, 2011 7:25:37 AM

For the record, I do like New York, though I bristle a bit at its "live and let live" streak, especially when it seems to be applied selectively.

Posted by: rob vischer | Feb 28, 2011 10:39:02 AM

I caught a piece on the news where the mom of the young girl model featured in the ad was interviewed. The mom was upset that her daughter's photo was used on the controversial billboard (even though the mom had presumably signed away the photo shoot rights during a modeling session). The mom did not really articulate *why* she was upset (that there was controversy in general? that she thought the ad critical of black women as David says some see it?) and the interviewer did not elicit any rationale. I was hoping the interview would explain why the mom did not like it. It struck me as odd that the mom was upset, as the photo of the cute young gal is being used, as I understand it, to represent life, and the goodness of life, and what should be protected.

Posted by: DFoley | Feb 28, 2011 2:49:50 PM

"Offensive and disturbing" and "divisive messaging around race" but not "untrue." The truth of the billboard's message is not challenged, nor can it be if the critic is firmly grounded in reality.

Posted by: John Breen | Feb 28, 2011 9:09:30 PM

NY Times columnist Clyde Haberman on the billboard affair:

“In New York, one may articulate any idea whatsoever — as long as that idea parallels popular opinion.”


Posted by: Patrick Molloy | Mar 1, 2011 10:15:10 AM

The question remains what idea the billboard articulated. Here is Bill Donohue's take, under a large headline that says "Catholic League: Abortion = Black Genocide":

"To this day, a disproportionate number of Planned Parenthood's abortion clinics are located in minority neighborhoods, their largest cheerleaders being affluent white liberals who perversely boast of championing the cause of the black poor.

"Nationally, blacks, who make up 13 percent of the population, account for over one-third of all the abortions. In New York City, where over four out of ten children are killed before birth, the rate of abortion among black women is 60 percent. But killing six in ten black babies isn't enough to satisfy some affluent white liberals—they want more."

So abortion is genocide against blacks, and black liberals want even *more* black babies killed. Is this the message the pro-life movement wants to send? One can only imagine what conservatives/Republicans would be saying if there was a liberal campaign putting up billboards implying conservatives were waging a genocidal campaign against black people. Bill Donohue and anyone else promoting the idea that there is a genocidal plot against black people should be ashamed of themselves. They are fomenting racial hatred.

Posted by: David Nickol | Mar 1, 2011 10:58:08 AM