Freedom of speech means freedom of ignorance with anti SB 1070 billboard in Oracle

The beauty of freedom of speech is it lets people freely proclaim their ignorance – in a big way.

Family on Oracle billboard, complete with El Salvador emblems on shirts/submitted photo

An ignorant anti SB 1070 billboard on private property in Oracle is doing just that.

The billboard, on the property of Frank Pierson and Mary Ellen Kazda, depicts a happy-dappy family erroneously coupled with an out-of-context quote from Pinal County Sheriff Babeu.

The family, of course, is the ideal nuclear brood with mom, dad and two kids: a slightly smiling teen daughter and a cutesy little son, complete with cutesy little baseball cap. They are so friendly and sweet it looks like they should be eating an ice cream treat.

The quote next to them, attributed to Babeu, states: “This is our most serious public safety issue and a national security threat to America.”

“I find this billboard offensive and misleading,” Babeu said in a news release his office issued last week. “This message is not truthful and takes away from the great work our law enforcement members do on a daily basis to protect our Pinal County families.”

True, Babeu has spoken – loudly and boldly – about our national security, or lack thereof.

Out-of-context quote on Oracle billboard/submitted photo

However, his full message is: “Those responsible for drug and human smuggling and those entering the U.S. illegally especially from terrorist countries are the most serious public safety threat to America.”

Unless the family stole into the country illegally and the kid has a cache of drugs and machine guns beneath his baseball cap, this wholesome brood is not the threat.

“This billboard represents the same misleading and misguided message that President Obama made when he gave the example of how law enforcement would target a father walking down the street eating ice cream with his daughter if SB1070 passed,” Babeu’s release says.

Banana split anyone?

To review for about the 103rd time, SB 1070, which has been largely crippled by a federal judge’s injunction, does not allow for racial profiling but does allow for “reasonable suspicion.”

The reasonable suspicion list includes the same criteria federal agents use to spot illegal aliens. Criteria includes things like not having an ID when an ID is needed, like for driving; not being able to explain how a visa was obtained; not knowing a home address; being in a vehicle packed with people hiding beneath seats and dashboard; acting nervous or avoiding eye contact; or fleeing at the sight of law enforcement.

It says nothing about an ice cream cone.

The list, of course, is long, boring and may take a few minutes to read – it’s much more fun to quickly perpetuate misconceptions and lies.

The list, and details on the law, are also very specific. Yet some people still refuse to get it, or even read up on it, and instead go as far to erect billboards spreading ignorance and accusations.

In their defense, billboard property people Pierson and Kazda told KGUN9 News the sign is “message art” and certainly not meant to accuse anyone of racism.

Kazda added the controversy erupting over the sign “has taken her by surprise” since the message was only intended to be “provocative in a friendly way and not in a hurtful way.”

And we have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

The twisted message, whatever its alleged intention, is not the only problem with the billboard.

Although illegal aliens from Mexico are repeatedly responsible for a number of crimes on American soil, including sneaking into the country in the first place, the billboard depicts a family sporting emblems from El Salvador, according to El Salvador’s honorary consul for Arizona. He notes one is even wearing a shirt with a photo of El Salvador’s president.

So the billboard not only misconstrues Babeu’s views, but it is spewing erroneous beliefs about El Salvador.

“‘It’s an insult to our nation,’” Honorary Counsel Enrique Melendez is quoted by KGUN9. “Melendez insists that El Salvador respects American sovereignty and immigration law, and does not send illegal immigrants to the U.S.”

Some great “message art.” Put it in the same category as notable religious figures created out of feces.


What do you think?

Do you buy the jive that the billboard is “message art” and not meant to be harmful?

Have you seen other blatant misconceptions posted on signs and billboards?

What’s your least favorite billboard around town?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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70 Responses to Freedom of speech means freedom of ignorance with anti SB 1070 billboard in Oracle

  1. Oakland says:

    I saw this the other day, what a joke. “provocative in a friendly way and not in a hurtful way.” How is that ment for anything but a hurtful way.

  2. Denise says:

    “Reasonable suspicion” is just another term for “racial profiling”.  Looking like a Mexican or a Latino is reasonable suspicion.  But the federal law suit against SB1070 is about the state getting involved (officially) in areas that are federal responsibility.  I’ve read stories that in other states, like Rhode Island, police are working with ICE to crack down on illegals. It’s just that the Rhode Island legislature did not come up with controversial legislation that oversteps the state-federal roles.  Without SB1070, if police come across someone they think is illegal, they can call ICE. But SB 1070 requires local police to ask people to prove they are here legally.  If police are investigating a crime, the are required to ask potential witnesses for proof of their status – even an American.
    SB1070 was a brilliant idea from a political perspective.  Jan Brewer was going to be challenged by Republican men who wanted to be governor and didn’t think she had a chance to win in November. (And they didn’t think she was qualified to be governor.) After all the publicity and emotion over SB1070, Brewer’s Republican competitors stepped aside.  Unfortunately, a political stunt doesn’t necessarily make for good governing.

    • Rynski says:

      hi denise,
      thanks for input – while i’ll agree that states working WITH the federal gov’t is more of an ideal than going around them, i’ll have to heartily disagree that “reasonable suspicion” and “racial profiling” are synonymous. there really is not any reason for them to be, as the reasonable suspicion list covers a lot of ground.

  3. Tucson says:

    I would say this is a pathetic cry for attention from a starving artist but after searching google I can’t find one piece of artwork from either of these people. Guess they are just pathetic.

    • Rynski says:

      like your theory tucson – too bad you didn’t find any previous art creations from the duo in galleries scattered across the nation – thanks for looking, though!

  4. azmouse says:

    Misquoting someone on such a big scale is definitely a political statement as apposed to ‘art’, in my opinion.

    It’s cool to have political views but not cool to be a liar.

    • Rynski says:

      agree with that one, azmouse – liars are NEVER cool.
      ART has a broad definition, or pretty much any definition that someone decides to give it, but i’ll also say this billboard doesn’t fall into the great big chasm.

    • leftfield says:

      Misquoting someone on such a big scale is definitely a political statement as apposed to ‘art’, in my opinion.

      With November just around the corner, you better get used to it. 

    • tiponeill says:

      It’s cool to have political views but not cool to be a liar.
      How cool is it to want to deport high school students because of “beheadings in the desert” ?

      • azmouse says:

        If you’re asking me, tiponeill, I don’t want to deport high school kids because of beheading’s in the desert…..

      • tiponeill says:

        Your standard deflection – “you” don’t want to.
        Gov. Brewer and the SB1070 supporters however DO want to deport high school kids, and when asked to justify their law, they offer “border violence” as the justification.
        This ad is no more dishonest that SB1070 and it’s supporters, as a matter of fact it is just repeating their lie.

      • azmouse says:

        Oh, I see.
        I’ve never stated whether I supported SB1070 or not, myself. Initially when it first passed and there was so much hoopla about it I thought it probably wouldn’t stick around, but might be positive in bringing new attention to some of the problems and dangers associated with border security.
        I’m more concerned, for example, of a well meaning Grandparent paying a ‘coyote’ to bring their grandchild across the border and then the child gets molested, kidnapped or disappears. Or the people dying of heat and dehydration.
        But I’m not going to lie. I do believe in legal immigration by sponsoring a family. My family has done it for years. My brother is currently sponsoring a family from Guatemala to become citizens.

  5. leftfield says:

    I vote “other”.  Whether one wants to call it art or not, it is a piece of political propaganda just like the political propaganda you’ll see along any roadway in this election year.  If you see one with a little elephant in the corner, no doubt the message will be a promise to “control our borders”.  My neighbors have Jesse Kelly political propaganda in their yard; proof positive that with freedom of speech comes the freedom to be stupid.  

    • fraser007 says:

      That would never be a problem in a communist country. No real elections.

      • leftfield says:

        Your good friend Hugo would be very pleased to know this, especially given his party’s losses in the recent elections in Venezuela.  Your other good friend in Latin America, Daniel Ortega, will be pleased also. 

        Of course, from my POV there are no “real elections” in this country either. 

    • Rynski says:

      hahahhah – always get a laugh out of your input, leftfield, thanks.

  6. fraser007 says:

    I thought we still had free speech in this country. Its no worse than any of the other B.S. that we get from the other side. “Immigration Reform”….”The Immigration system is broken”, Demonstrators carrying Mexican flags.

  7. JoeS says:

    I support free speech,  it lets me know who the jackasses are….

  8. tiponeill says:

    Which is the more “ignorant” – Babeu’s statement, the billboard, or this column defending him (all freedom of speech, of course).
    We should immediately alert Washington to stop worrying about Iran’s nukes, Al Qaeda’s bombs etc. and focus on the REAL threat to national security – illegal immigrants.
    Maybe appoint him to the National Security Council, he seems to have all of the qualifications you would expect for an Arizona Sherri. ff.

  9. erniemccray says:

    Art should be as free of “cliche” as possible. This billboard is cliche for “hate,” setting up people who look like the people on the billboard for more agony, riling up the “Get the hell out of here!” folks.

    • Rynski says:

      very good points, erniemccray.
      i esp agree that art should be as free of cliche as possible – that reminds me of a poetry reading i used to frequent in nyc where the host would actually kick poets off the stage who used cliche in their poetry. never heard any ‘roses are red…’ over there.
      also good points on billboard serving up agony and riling fodder.

  10. Alan in Kent WA says:

    My Sister In Law is foreign born, and she has to jump through hoops to keep her legal staus here.  Any excuse for not being here in a legal manner is just an excuse. 

    • Rynski says:

      hiya alan in kent wa –
      good for your sister-in-law for following the law on status – even if it is a hoop-jumping show and probably a pain. thanks for pointing out there is no excuse for others not to follow her lead.

    • erniemccray says:

      And I’d say that picking lettuce to survive is about as good an excuse as any to try to be here. “Illegals,” by and large, at least those I’ve known, are just trying to find a way to eat and breathe, with very little energy to jump through hoops. Hunger doesn’t subside as a person readies him or herself to jump. What are the poorest of the poor supposed to do while they’re waiting for legal status? This all sounds so easy when you’re not crossing a hot desert or freezing mountains looking for a hole in a fence to get at that “minimum wage” job that might be there. MIGHT.
      At the same time, I applaud your sister. But somehow I’m not so sure she’s in the same category as the immigrants I’m thinking about. And, I hope we’re all aware that due to the economy there aren’t a whole lot of people trying to get here compared to when times were better. Makes sense.

      • Rynski says:

        if crossing the hot desert or freezing mountains searching for a hole in the fence in hopes of ‘mights’ is such a hardship (which is done by choice, btw), you’d think applying for legal status would be a breeze, no?

      • radmax says:

        Excellent point Rynski. Desperation to the point of facing death rather than going through channels, or staying put?

      • JoeS says:

        Who is starving in Mexico?

        The desire for a “better life” does not necessarily equate to fleeing hunger.

        Folks want better cell coverage,  better access to McDonalds and big screen plasma TVs

        If you are fleeing a known corrupt regime then stop waving tha flag.

      • erniemccray says:

        We, as a society, act as if being here legally is something that just happens by showing up at an office somewhere. Applying for legal status isn’t something you just do, take your seat, get a few things stamped and pick up your suitcase and move into a town house. People risk death out of desperation as we would do to survive. Have you ever hiked for just a few minutes in extreme heat? Have you ever been caught in an unexpected snow storm in the mountains? Would you want to deal with that more than a few minutes? In worn out shoes? Without a coat? Very little to nothing to munch on? No idea where you are or where you’re going?
        Do people really come here “by choice” in the simplest definition of such a term, you know, laughing and joking about how they’re going to sneak by la migra, winking at each other with “screw the law” looks on their crime plotting faces?  Or is it circumstances beyond their control, farms that have been paved over for “progress,” for NAFTA wheeling and dealing, no jobs anywhere in sight?
        Immigrants don’t come close to being the problem when it comes to the dire economic straits we’re in. They’re not corporations and politicians. They’re you and me, all of us, if we faced the life conditions they live with. I would do exactly what they’re doing to keep my family alive without a second thought and “breaking the law” would be absolutely the last thing on my mind, about a thousand on a list following the likes of: egg salad sandwiches, some work boots, a tent, a hut, a cave, a place to toil with any kind of pay, a pen and a couple of sheets of paper, my family working next to me…
        It’s sad that in a time when we need to muster as much love as we can for each other and others, we choose to scapegoat people who walk among us everyday. Serious social problems are rarely, if ever, solved in a spirit of panic and hatred.

      • JoeS says:

        “We, as a society, act as if being here legally is something that just happens by showing up at an office somewhere.”

        Umm….no.    US Citizenship is obtainable,  while not an easy process,  it is the process our laws require.   Ask any new Citizen that was required to follow the porcess if it was worth the wait.

        Would you like for the US to grant Citizenship to everyone that makes it to our shores or thru our borders?

        Can “lifeboat USA” sustain all those that would come if that was the case?  How many people out their want a “better life”?

  11. “those entering the U.S. illegally especially from terrorist countries are the most serious public safety threat to America.”
    How is THIS not an ignorant statement?
    We have 12 million (at least) who entered this country or are here illegally, and their only crime is simple existing without papers, and are hardworkers doing a lot of the work Americans don’t want to but get to benefit from.

  12. Tucson tom says:

    To be clear SB 1070 does permit racial profiling as permitted by federal and state law and precedent.  The only way racial profiling is permitted is –
    quote from –
    “Here is what SB1070 provides at A.R.S. Sec. 11-1051(B) (and essentially verbatim at A.R.S. Secs. 13-1509(C), 13-2928(D), and 13-2929(C) as well):
    Race can be considered, then, if and when permitted by the U.S. or Arizona constitutions.  According to the Supreme Court, the U.S. Constitution allows race to be considered evaluating reasonable suspicion in immigration enforcement: “The likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor.” United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 886-87 (1975).  The Arizona Supreme Court agrees that “enforcement of immigration laws often involves a relevant consideration of ethnic factors.” State v. Graciano, 653 P.2d 683, 687 n.7 (Ariz. 1982) (citing State v. Becerra, 534 P.2d 743 (Ariz.1975)).  So SB1070 authorizes consideration of race in immigration enforcement. (Kevin Johnson has an excellent piece on this and related doctrines here).”
    So while the precedents may or may not be flawed SB 1070 does permit racial profiling.  But only as most narrowly appear to be “Mexican”.

  13. F E B says:

    You make a gesture toward freedom of speech, but do you approve of Babeu’s lawyer’s threat to drag the sign-makers into court if they don’t do what he says, & take it down?  (The lawyer’s being paid through a Babeu vehicle funded my people who were told they were helping defend officers from lawsuits, not threaten citizens for exercising their speech rights.  But that’s another matter.)  This is a bit of a moot question, since they’ve already submitted, but the principle remains.
    You may leave a false impression by referring to Babeu’s “full message.”  The line you quote is not from the statement from which the sentence on the sign was taken.  Rather, it’s a statement he issued two months later, specifically in response to the sign.  The fact that it’s not included on a sign that predates it is weak evidence that the sign-makers misrepresented the statement from which they did quote.
    I actually think the people in the photograph look pretty much like the median illegal immigrant.  Don’t you?  And Babeu has said illegal immigration per se is a threat.   That includes a lot of people who look like the photo; but maybe some people would’ve understood the point more easily if the picture were of illegal immigrants from Poland.
    Do you actually believe there aren’t a lot of people from El Salvador in this country illegally?

    • Rynski says:

      dear feb,
      thanks for input and your astute talent for galloping away from the point.
      the point is the billboard ‘message’ was meant to look as if smiling families in baseball caps are the ‘threat.’
      that is spreading ignorance.

      • F E B says:

        No.  The point isn’t that the people in the photo are or are meant to look like a (or “the”) threat, but that Babeu’s rhetoric too often suggests that they are.
        Quoting his subsequent denial doesn’t resolve the point.

      • Rynski says:

        well, i see it differently. and i also don’t agree that babeau’s rhetoric suggests that happy-dappy families are a/the threat.
        but thanks for reply.

      • F E B says:

        I grant that people differ in their comprehension of irony, but you know that the sign is meant to be anti-SB1070.   If it were really intended to suggest that the family is a threat, how would that serve the sign-makers’ political purposes?

      • tiponeill says:

        1)the point is the billboard ‘message’ was meant to look as if smiling families in baseball caps are the ‘threat.’

        that is spreading ignorance.
        2)12 million (at least) folks floating around who have no qualms breaking the law just to get here yes, it would seem, is a bit of concern.
        I’m just curious – which is it: Number one or number two ?

    • RobH says:

      I do believe when you take comments someone made, use them out of context in a most defaming way, and publicly post those comments in a larger-than-life manner, and then pair those comments with a photo you not only do not have permission to use, but also publicly malign those in the photo, you are violating the law. It is called LIBEL. Free speech only goes so far. You cannot walk down the street cursing and swearing, you cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, and you cannot publicly defame people or make libelous comments in the name of free speech.

      • F E B says:

        I don’t doubt that you think this.  What do you think a photograph of the median illegal immigrant would look like?  Would they not be smiling?  Not have a family?  Not look “happy-dappy”?

  14. radmax says:

    Happy Monday Rynski. 😉 Great rile em’ up story today!
    I voted ‘other’ as I find lying like this to be politically motivated.
    Sure they have an agenda, seems like everyone does these days.
    Lefty has a fine point about all this, “propaganda”, as he says, why the
    hell not if politicians so freely ‘bend’ the truth?

    • Rynski says:

      happy monday back, radmax.
      thanks for compliment – and smiley face – always can use a smiley face on a monday – hahah.
      also appreciate your input – and agree that politicians et. al. often ‘bend’ the truth so pretzel-ey that it resembles nothing like it started.

  15. leftfield says:

    Folks want better cell coverage,  better access to McDonalds and big screen plasma TVs

    I don’t think you’ve got a real firm grip on the reality of things.  That, of course, would require the ability to see things from a perspective different than your own.

    • JoeS says:

      Show me the “starving” people in Mexico……

      • F E B says:

        I’ll extend you the charity of assuming you’re uninformed.  Search Mexico + malnutrition.

      • RobH says:

        So we just push aside all those in America who live way below the poverty level and can barely afford food for themselves and their families so that someone from another country can come in and feast on the bounty that is America?
        They truly need to stay in their own country and make it work for them. If the politics are so bad they are drowning in tyranny, maybe those 12 million should return to their homeland and start a revolution and bring their own country under control rather than bringing ours down.

      • leftfield says:

        Believe it or not, even a completely sealed border would not alleviate poverty and hunger in the US, because the poverty and hunger here is home-grown.  The migrants did not invent inequality and injustice in America and they did not bring it with them.  

        maybe those 12 million should return to their homeland and start a revolution 

        Maybe they know a little more about the history of Latin America and they remember what was done to the people of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras by the US when they endeavored to “start a revolution” and improve their lot. 

      • JoeS says:

        “Search Mexico + malnutrition”

        LOL……search “America + malnutrition”

  16. borderraven says:

    While the federal government may have original jurisdiction to enforce federal immigration laws, and declare war, the federal government does not have exclusive jurisdiction to enforce federal immigration laws. Under laws enacted by Congress, states have concurrent jurisdiction and are requested and encouraged to assist the enforcement of federal immigration laws. US States are encouraged to engage in war, if invaded.
    See: Article 1 Section 10, Clause 3 and Article 4 Section 4.


  17. erniemccray says:

    Whether or not I would like citizenship given to just anybody who wants it, matters not. And people who are starving are not looking for “citizenship.” They don’t care about its accessibility. They want to survive. SURVIVE. That’s a natural desire of all in the animal kingdom.

    • JoeS says:

      OK…,  in your opinion sould there be a limit on how many people we allow into the our country?

      • erniemccray says:

        Well, setting aside my overall idealistic feeling that there should be no borders between human beings, yes, I think there should be a limit to how many people are allowed into our country. The people in this overall discussion, however, haven’t been “allowed” into our country, they’ve come out of desperation and don’t need to be demonized. They’re more deserving of asylum, of compassion. But realistically, and my idealism is heavily flavored with realism, that’s not going to happen so I see my duty as a member of the human race to advocate, unflinchingly, for them being treated humanely. That’s all I can do and that’s all I’m doing in this forum and out in my community.

  18. Gax says:

    I guess this is 2 little 2 late, but it seems to me that the point that was missed was the irony of families (that are most affected by 1070)  juxtaposed against the statement that focuses on security, drugs smugglers, etc and doesn’t see the main recipients of the force is that family.  Those that don’t understand the literary device, call it misrepresentation.  Those that do understand, find it a clarification of the lack of respect for 1st amendment rights and that abstract reasoning cannot be applied to emotional issues by so many people.   This is not a comment on the accuracy or relevance of the contents of the sign, just an indication of the emotional IQ surrounding this issue.   Bullies dont have to understand you to take your candy.  And when the food rots in the field next summer because the family is gone, who will be angry because of the price of a tomato ?

  19. erniemccray says:

    When the food rots in the field and the family is gone and the price of a tomato has skyrocketed we’ll probably be angry at, say, Michelle Obama for asking us to eat healthier which will be harder to do because we can’t afford produce due to no more cheap labor.

  20. matt25 says:

    It’s not a billboard and this is press release from which the quote was taken (4th graph, 1st sentence:

    Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has issued the following statement in response to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton’s injunction against certain provisions of SB1070, Arizona’s new immigration law, which goes into effect tonight at midnight:
    “Incredibly, even though there is not one person who can legitimately claim to be harmed by a law that has not even taken effect, the result of an injunction is de facto amnesty through non-enforcement of laws against illegal immigration,”
    “The federal government refuses to secure the border and leaves it to states like Arizona to bear the costs of its inaction. Yet, when we try to do the job they won’t do, in a manner consistent with federal law, they stop us. You couldn’t make up something this ridiculous.”

    “It’s a sad day in America when our own president has directed his attorney general to provide terrorist Miranda rights, yet fights to deny law enforcement the very tools needed to determine if an illegal is in America legally. Why has the President not come to Arizona to personally inspect the threat that our citizens face?”
    “This is our most serious public safety issue and a national security threat to America. President Obama seems to have won the initial legal battle on the basis of the supremacy clause, saying it is inherently his job to enforce immigration law. We in Arizona could not agree more that is it his job and we demand that he do his job and protect our state, rather that continuing to fight us in court.”

    July 28, 2010 | Filed Under OpinionPinal County
    F E B is on target and Gax, yes, oh the irony of it all.

    • F E B says:

      Coming upon this again a year and a half later, it’s amazing how determined some people were to play along with Babeu’s bullying mendacity. The sad truth is that the only person misinterpreting Babeu’s July 28th, 2010 statement was the Babeu of Sept 23rd, 2010. Matt25 did us the favor of reproducing his entire July 28th press release. There’s nothing in it to support Babeu’s Sept 23rd assertion that he’d really only been talking about people from terrorist countries. He was talking about illegal immigrants as a class, among whom the median person looks pretty much like the family in the photograph. The declared object of state policy was and is to make life so impossible for untold tens of thousands of such normal-looking families that they’ll have no choice but to abandon everything and flee. (If you think I’m exaggerating, read the legislative history.) The ugly truth is Babeu is a classic demagogue, that the billboard makers quoted him fairly, and that he didn’t like it. (He was in a rage all that month. He’d just been quietly forced out of the National Guard — a long story that still hasn’t been told –, and he blamed the President, and for some reason Eric Holder, personally.) And so he organized a public campaign of bullying, threats and slander to silence a couple of retirees. And it more or less worked. Such was the climate in Arizona in Sept. 2010 that there was no shortage of misguided people willing to fall in line behind him.

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