Both Republican and Democrat commuters in Idaho find rare common ground on this issue — that a local billboard is “way out of line.”
An electronic billboard located on Franklin Road in Caldwell, Idaho pairs a photo of President Barack Obama with one of James Holmes, who is accused of murdering 12 people in the recent Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting. Each picture is labeled with a caption.
Around Holmes’ picture:
“Kills 12 in a movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out.”
Around Obama’s picture:
“Kills thousands with foreign policy, wins Noble Peace Prize.”
The billboard is funded by a group that honors the memory of Libertarian Ralph Smeed, according to the Idaho Statesman. In fact, it’s supposedly a “landmark” in the area — the group has paid to post controversial, anti-Obama messages on the billboard before.
The group says the juxtaposition of the two pictures is supposed to remind Americans that Obama has broken his promise to bring the troops home, not meant to compare the president to a suspected mass murderer. “We’re outraged over the killing in Aurora, Colorado,” Maurice Clements, a former Idaho lawmaker and a member of the Smeed-inspired group said, “but we’re not outraged over the boys killed in Afghanistan.”
One commuter called the billboard “way out of line,” and other Idaho residents aired their outrage on local TV station KBOI’s Facebook page. One comment read, “This billboard is offensive to all those lives lost and affected by the shooting. Just pathetic, even if this is their expression of the 1st amendment.” Another called the billboard “insulting, ridiculous and just plain inaccurate.”
Speaking to the Statesman, Clements even acknowledged that the inflammatory comparison might have been over the top: “That’s a technique of trying to make a point, and maybe it was poorly done.”