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.

[tnipoll]

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?

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What do you think?