A controversial billboard in Maryland has ignited a political and free speech debate, as it portrays President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in a derogatory manner. Located in Huntington, Calvert County, along Route 4 and Bowie Shop Road, the billboard displays cartoon caricatures of the president and vice president surrounded by cartoon feces. It also includes a pro-Trump message that reads, “DON’T BLAME TRUMP! YOU ARE STUCK WITH THESE TWO HEADS!!!”
The sign has garnered both applause from those opposed to the Biden administration and strong condemnation from many in Maryland who find it offensive. Jeanette Flaim, chair of the Calvert County Democratic Central Committee, has taken a public stand against the billboard, describing it as “vulgar” and unsuitable for public display, especially given that children commute past it on their way to school.
Flaim’s efforts to have the billboard removed, however, face a significant legal hurdle. The 2015 Reed v. Town of Gilbert Supreme Court Decision protects offensive or controversial speech on signs, citing it as a form of free speech. County commissioners, including Buddy Hance, president of the Board of County Commissioners, have indicated their limited ability to take action against the sign, emphasizing the importance of upholding the foundational principle of free speech in the United States.
Flaim acknowledges the pro-Trump agenda of the location but argues that the explicit language and imagery on the billboard cross the line of appropriateness for public display, especially when it involves profanity that can reach young residents. Her intention is to apply public pressure on the individuals responsible for the sign, encouraging them to remove it and replace it with something less offensive.
She clarified, “We have not complained about any other signs. It’s this sign we think is, again, damaging to all of us, all of us in Calvert. The GOP, the Independents, everybody.”
As of now, the person or group behind the controversial billboard has not responded to requests for comment, leaving their motivations and intentions unclear.
The billboard’s existence underscores the political and ideological divisions that persist in the wake of the 2020 general election and raises important questions about the boundaries of free speech and the responsibility of individuals and communities in shaping public discourse. The debate over whether the sign should be allowed to remain will likely continue, reflecting broader discussions about the limits and consequences of political expression.