Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Observations about Billboards

Since I went back to work a week and a half ago, I have been seeing the strangest billboards on my commute. Three of them are funny enough, odd enough, or thought-worthy enough that I decided to write them up.
  1. [Picture of a cat, ad for humane society] Too bad there's no soup kitchen for her. There are so many things wrong with this. We have soup kitchens because we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every human being—regardless of poverty, mental illness, or other reason for being homeless. While I'm all for helping take care of animals, I'm just not convinced that animal homelessness is nearly the problem that human homelessness is—nor that the comparison is warranted. By all means, encourage animal adoption... just please don't be silly while you're at it. Also: last time I checked, very few cats die of malnutrition on the streets, seeing as they're natural predators for other non-domesticated animals. The cats don't need soup kitchens.
  2. "There's no such thing as an unwanted, adopted baby. —God I could not agree more deeply with the message being presented here. Abortion is not the answer to "unwanted" children: adoption is an infinitely better alternative when, for whatever reason, a mother is simply unable to carry a child. That said, I have been bothered by this billboard for months, and the reason struck me forcefully last week. It's the attribution: making it a quote from God. (Incidentally, that's why it took me such a long time to put my finger on the source of my unease: I kept looking for problems in the quote itself, but there aren't any!) The message itself is very good... but God never said anything of the sort, even he undoubtedly agrees. I do not think we ought to attribute to God anything outside of Scripture itself as "speech." The word of God is sufficient, as I have argued before, and we ought not add to what God has said. So it is a good poster that would have been better without the "—God" tagged on at the end. The attempt to add moral authority to what ought to be an obvious and compelling statement, in my case at least, ended up being a source of distraction. I may, however, be a unique case...
  3. Let's go out for ice cream after you get us all paralyzed! [Picture of a girl holding a sign in a rearview mirror] —Don't let your friends drive recklessly. This one was just plain funny. It was clever, somewhat sarcastic, and incredibly well-done visually. Given the sad state of the drivers around me, not to mention the frequently dangerous antics of many high school and college students, it is a much needed message, too. Normally, I find advertisements of the "Friends don't let friends do drugs" variety to be executed poorly at best and worthy of mockery and derision at worst. This was a pleasant change.

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