Friday, June 8, 2012

Welcome to Hudson . . .

Driving back into the city on Route 9G earlier this week, I noticed this billboard just beyond Middle Road. It's sponsored by the Rock Solid Church, the same group that brought us the memorable and still talked about Jesus on a treadmill float in the Flag Day parade a few years ago.

There's a letter to the editor about this billboard in today's Register-Star, from someone who lives in Catskill: "Over the line." The letter writer reports that, when asked about the sign, Mayor William Hallenbeck said he was "OK with it" and suggested that the writer "take [his] concerns to the town of Greenport where the sign is located." If this was indeed Hallenbeck's response, it reveals him to be pretty out of touch with a great many of his constituents in Hudson.


ADDENDUM:  I have just been informed that there is another such sign on Route 66 as you enter Hudson from the north.

15 comments:

  1. Jesus is also our Homeboy. Can't wait for homecoming next weekend!

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  2. interesting response to the letter so far and it's only 9 AM

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  3. The letter writer is suffering from an extreme form of rights-obsession which is no less prone to creepy excess than the group he obviously resents.

    He gives himself away by talking about what should and should not be "tolerated," ostensibly on behalf of tolerance and diversity.

    I know all I need to know about his regard for the 1st Amendment, so when does he plan to begin the eradication program?

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  4. The most offensive part of that sign isn't the message, but the terrible design. Gives me a headache.

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  5. The billboards on 66 and 9G have been up since late April or early May, and have been extensively discussed on Facebook, etc. And then there's this:

    http://www.sampratt.com/sam/2012/05/virtual-graffiti-route-9g.html

    Personally I think the church has every right to put up whatever they believe; I also think what they believe is silly and worthy of mockery. But trying to restrict such speech is a slippery slope, and could backfire on people like the letter-writer.

    --S.

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    1. I readily admit that I haven't entered Hudson by way of Route 9G or Route 66 for a while, but my post was prompted not by seeing it for myself for the first time but by the letter to the editor that appeared today in the Register-Star.

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  6. What I love about this country is that anyone can put up their own billboard saying, I don't know ... "Muckets are Lord," or "Welcome to Hudson, now go home."

    See "Hustler Magazine v. Falwell," when the high court defended humor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hustler_Magazine_v._Falwell

    But you can certainly love free speech without loving billboards.

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  7. One could say that the public advertisement by the Rock Solid Church boldly stating that Jesus is Lord in Hudson can easily be proven false and is, therefore, an exception to the First Amendment. But if the church wants to lie about Jesus running Hudson my vote is to let them look marginal and out of touch. As they say way Down South "let it lay where Jesus flung it."

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  8. A lot of municipalities or scenic areas just outlaw billboards through zoning or view shed,or by any legal means necessary. That ends the conversation.

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  9. Mr. Kelly makes the same argument as those who opposed building a mosque near Ground Zero. That the very presence of a religious center, or billboard, is offensive. Remember when President Obama said he was ok with it and people got upset? Fox News said he was out of touch with a great many of his constituents and put scores of them on TV. Remember what you thought?

    "Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence." - Robert Frost

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  10. The letter writer's argument was not "the same" as the arguments of those who opposed the "Ground Zero Mosque."

    The First Amendment doesn't allow for provocations, libels, slanders and the like.

    For a proper analogy with lower Manhattan, a Jesus billboard should have been placed directly next door to a mosque, a temple, or for that matter a Catholic Church. The Rock Solid Church did nothing of the sort, nor would it have.

    On occasion, practical reason and prudence are called for when figuring out where to draw a line. In that regard it's a lot simpler to be black-and-white when thinking about "rights" since so much of social life takes place in the gray.

    I remember thinking that a lot of people were using their common sense during the Manhattan mosque controversy. Now it appears I was supposed to be thinking something else.

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    1. Both the letter writer from Catskill and the nudnicks who opposed the mosque made the same argument: that the very presence of a religious center, or billboard with a religious message, should be prohibited because of their offensive nature.

      You wrote that the "First Amendment doesn't allow for provocations, libels, slanders and the like," but nothing else. Elaborate.

      "The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will still be flying proudly long after they have slunk away." - Colin Powell, Joint Chiefs of Staff

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    2. As I've already admitted my sympathies with those for whom the proximity of the planned mosque to Ground Zero was an objectionable provocation, you are knowingly calling me a "nudnick." I'll let that pass, except to say that Mr. Frost doubtlessly included not goading others' tempers in his definition of "education."

      What I won't let pass is your mischaracterization of the argument. It was not the existence of the mosque, but its propinquity to Ground Zero that was objectionable. No one at the FOX channel or anywhere else ever stated that the mosque should not exist; only that it shouldn't exist there.

      The offer to move the mosque elsewhere was made by the Mayor and by everyone else who was offended at the original siting. I heard this pronounced so many hundreds of times that I am amazed that anyone should have forgotten it. I'd be willing to bet that now you remember too.

      However, the offer to site the mosque elsewhere was not interesting or useful to the deliberate provocations of those who had first planned it.

      Now in the interest of furthering your education concerning our nation's Bill of Rights, you already know not to yell "fire!" in a theatre. That is not protected "speech," nor would Colin Powell or anyone else defend it as free speech. Defamation is not protected speech, nor are the other forms of speech mentioned earlier, and all for good reason.

      And before you're able to mischaracterize me a second time, or to call me names which are usually out-of-bounds here, I'll offer that I am against any further abridgments of the First Amendment. But I hope that you don't suppose that I owe you or anyone else this admission. Call it an olive branch then.

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    3. I'll accept the olive branch.

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  11. If someone doesn't like the message on the billboard, too darn bad.

    That is the essence of the meaning of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech (and of freedom of religion too, I suppose). That church has the right to say what they want to say, period. The sign must not be eliminated because of the content of the message.

    If someone doesn't like it, then he should write a letter to the editor of the paper, put up a competing sign, &c.

    -- Jock Spivy

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