Just a stone's-throw away from historic Route 66 in Tucumcari sits a sign that everyone's talking about.The local news station in question, KOAT, apparently refers to its investigative unit as "Target 7." And they've certainly put this sign in their cross-hairs:
The sign sits atop an outhouse and says "Obama's Presidential Library."
Some in town say it's in bad taste, while others support it. Either way, everyone knows about it. One man said people have been treating it like a tourist destination, taking pictures all the time.
As for the man who put it up, he refused to give Target 7 his name or reveal what prompted him to construct the controversial commode, but he said he has no intention of taking it down.Emphasis mine, in all cases. Let's think about the implications of this report:
"It's like watching TV. If you don't like what the hell you're watching, turn the channel," said the man who put up the sign. "I'm not even certain he even deserves that level of respect, but that's my opinion."
Target 7 contacted city manager Doug Powers to see if the city was doing anything about the sign. He said he hasn't seen it yet, but will go to the site soon to see if it's breaking any city codes. However, when it comes to the message, Powers thinks the city doesn't have control over what people say.
Tucumcari is a popular overnight destination for people traveling the US on Interstate 40. Target 7 asked Powers if he's concerned the sign may give those visitors a bad idea, but he said because he hasn't seen it, he can't comment.
- "Target 7" may not ordinarily act as a Praetorian Guard in most of their coverage; I really couldn't tell you because like most Minnesotans I don't spend much time monitoring the local newscasts in Albuquerque. Still, you need to watch the video at the link to see the lengths to which the reporter tries to get the sign taken down, even whipping out her phone to call the city manager on camera.
- Why would anyone assume that one sign would give visitors "a bad idea" about an entire community? I've never assumed that if my neighbor or some other guy down the street puts up a political sign, that it reflects anything other than the opinion of the person who erects the sign. As you enter Wisconsin from the west on I-94, about 4-5 miles past Hudson there's a farmer of some sort who has long put up anti-Democratic Party messages. I've never thought for a moment that it meant anything about Hudson, River Falls or any other community in that area. Now, if every business in Tucumcari, New Mexico, had signage up proclaiming that Obama was the Antichrist, or that he was God Almighty, it might cause me to raise an eyebrow. But one small sign, that you'd miss if you blinked?
- I think the larger issue here is that we are at a point now where even hinting at any disapproval of the president causes reactions that are completely out of proportion. The case of the rodeo clown in Missouri, who was essentially drummed out of the rodeo business in the state because he wore an Obama mask, suggests that people are forgetting that criticizing politicians is healthy, or that they are getting afraid to do so. That's not good for anyone.