Monday, May 02, 2005

Billboard Baggage

Many Californians are upset at a billbord in Los Angeles that proclaims it "Los Angeles, Mexico." California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denounced it which prompted the LA Times to chide him for missing the humor. Patterico doesn't like their lecture. I don't either, but not for the same reason.

Frankly, I don't understand the fuss over the billboard. It wasn't obscene or defamatory. It was just a mildly amusing billboard which could easily be interpreted as meaning that the station makes Mexicans feel at home in California. To me, it's no more offensive than someone planting an American flag in a foreign country in a movie.

Still, the Times exemplifies one of the worst aspects of people who criticize others for taking offense: if the thing in question is too trivial (in your judgment) to offend you, why get upset at someone else's not liking it? If the billboard is insignificant, then it's not worth talking about someone else's (incorrect) disliking of it.

And don't tell me "it's the principle" because it isn't. Most people not upset with the LA, Mexico billboard are just fine with censoring billboards of cigarette or alcoholic beverage companies even though they sell fully legal products. Don't try that slope because you've already greased it. Why is it OK to censor cigarettes but not Mexico? There's no harm done by promoting either one provided you do so without being slanderous or obscene.