Do we need to stop looking for hidden meanings in everything we see?
In an effort to sell more jewelry, Spicer Greene Jewelers in Asheville, N.C., put up a billboard just off of Interstate 240, depicted several gems along with the words: “Sometimes, it’s OK to throw rocks at girls.”
A local teacher, Shannon Page, complained about the ad on a West Asheville Facebook group, saying the billboard’s wordplay was lost on her second-graders, who were “very confused and offended” by it.
“Not cool,” Page wrote. “Normalizing and finding humor in the, ‘He hit you because he likes you’ mentality that we feed to children is not OK. … Also, children will not see the humor in this billboard. All they will see is, ‘It’s OK to throw rocks at girls.’”
Though Page’s post triggered the controversy, others quickly piled on.
no @SpicerGreene…. just no.
— barbie angell (@barbieangell) March 23, 2017
“This billboard is just one in a series of billboards that uses sexism as humor,” one Facebook user posting under the name Laura Hope-Gill wrote. “Of course, sexism escalates to misogyny that then moves into full-blown domestic violence.” She also added in a later post, “Social Justice is the most beautiful jewel.”
Other Asheville residents have planned a protest outside of Spicer Greene Jewelers, also calling for local politicians and women’s groups to publicly denounce the billboard, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
Initially, the owners of the store told the local newspaper the ad was “taken out of context pretty quick.”
By Thursday afternoon, the jeweler posted an apology for their ad on their Facebook page, explicitly stating that they don’t support violence against women.
“We are humble enough to realize when we make a mistake and humble enough to realize the context in which we are speaking,” the post said. “We did not intend to cause controversy and our billboard communicated something we did not intend. We intended the billboard as a play on words to encourage the loving act of gift giving and are deeply saddened that it offended anyone.”
The jeweler told the Citizen-Times that because of the backlash, the shop was also considering taking down the billboard earlier than initially planned. Several Facebook posters said the jeweler’s apology was meaningless unless the ad was removed, and one user even volunteered to help take it down for free.
Not everyone was pleased with Spicer Greene Jeweler’s apology, though.
One Facebook user, posting under the name Treshella Huffman, said she had survived an abusive relationship, “but I laughed at that sign, I didn’t see anything offensive. People need to stop being so politically correct, quit looking for hidden meanings and lighten up.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.