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Speak Out: 'Go to Hell Barack' Metro Ad

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., calls on Metro board to remove ad.

A movie advertisement in the Clarendon Metro station telling President Barack Obama to "go to hell" has raised eyebrows in Northern Virginia.

The ad, for a movie called "Sick & Sicker," which is critical of the president's health care reform initiative, states, "Barack Obama wants politicians and bureaucrats to control America's entire medical system."

It adds: "Go to hell Barack."

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., called on the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, to remove the ad.

“This advertisement is inappropriate, disrespectful of the President, and should be removed immediately,” Moran stated in a news release. “The families with children and thousands of tourists who take Metro everyday should not be subjected to such garbage. I understand WMATA vets these advertisements before allowing them to go up, but it seems someone wasn’t doing their job when this ad was approved.”

But the Metro board is prohibited from removing an ad based on its political content, spokesman Dan Stessel told Patch.

According to a statement issued by Metro: "WMATA advertising has been ruled by the courts as a public forum protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and we may not decline ads based on their political content. WMATA does not endorse the advertising on our system, and ads do not reflect the position of the Authority."

In 1984, a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's decision that allowed Metro to refuse an ad based on political content.

The case, Lebron v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, centered on an artist's attempt to display an ad that was critical of then-President Ronald Reagan.

Metro deferred questions about the ad buy to CBS Outdoor, which handles advertising for WMATA.

CBS Outdoor declined to comment, so it's unclear which stations the ad appears in or for how long it will run.

Filmmaker Logan Clements, who placed the ad, did not immediately respond to a message left by Patch.

Moran stated in a subsequent news release that he was "disappointed" by WMATA's defense of keeping the ad in place.

“If their current advertising guidelines do not prohibit profane advertisements on taxpayer-funded property, then WMATA should take the initiative and update them. Profanity has no place in the public forum," Moran stated.

“The specific language in the WMATA-approved ad that should be removed is not political, it’s profane. It defames the President of the United States in a way that coarsens the public discourse. All Americans have the right to make their voice heard under the First Amendment. But when we are talking about an advertisement on tax-payer funded facilities, as is the case with Metro, it should meet the minimum standards of propriety. I repeat my call on WMATA to exercise appropriate judgment and remove this offensive ad.”

Moran spokeswoman Anne Hughes told Patch that the congressman's office had heard from a number of people about the matter Wednesday.

"We’ve heard from a number of constituents in all platforms – phone calls, twitter, etc," Hughes told Patch in an email.

"People are upset – and rightfully so."

Ric Duke March 01, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Seems Moran is like so many others, currently in power, who believe in Freedom of Speech ONLY when it suits them.
Mark Blacknell March 01, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Eh. Lame ad, but the solution to offensive speech is . . . more speech. Wouldn't be ashamed if the ad in question was papered over with responses, you know?
Jonathan Erickson March 01, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Cover the word hell with (and soon, you to Moran)
T Ailshire March 01, 2012 at 12:13 PM
It is inappropriate and disrespectful. That says much more about the sponsor than it does about the President. This is Constitutionally protected free speech.
D. W March 01, 2012 at 01:08 PM
If this had been any other of the presidents, they would have taken it down and the person would have to apoligize, but because its PRESIDENT Obama, this racist stuff continues to go on. You critize him for everything he do or don't do. Get over it people. You never thought you would have an AFRICIAN AMERICAN PRESIDENT, will you did and you wil never be able to CHANGE that. U people need to GROW UP
DAVE March 01, 2012 at 01:43 PM
D.W., apparently you are a victim of Obama's failed educational policies. Now, if I had been hired to do the poster it would have consisted of some guy with his middle fingers extended saying "thanks for nothing". There is nothing in the Constitution that states I have to show respect for Omama or our government. All you have to do is read the newspaper to see that our government has no respect for its citizens. In November, I pray, that our country will dig its head out of the sand and send the nimrod packing.
Mary Kay Claus March 01, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I think the poster was disrespectful and inappropriate. The poster could have said "Go to h*ll" using other language and still gotten the point across. While it is "freedom of speech" it does set the tone for (in)appropriate retaliation posters. And then things really spiral out of control.
Teresa W March 01, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I think Moran needs to have this conversation with his colleagues about perhaps setting the precedent of telling people to go to hell (ie Maxine Waters and Tea Party Patriots) and then perhaps the standard would be set a little higher if we had a good example to follow.
DAVE March 01, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Has this country become so backwards that the word HELL is receiving this much debate. Someone stop, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin are spinning in their graves. Absolutely NOONE would even mention this poster had Mr. Moron not opened his yap to get some press.
Jonathan Erickson March 01, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Thanks Dave!
Anoneemous March 01, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Mr. Moran, please read the First Amendment. If it's OK, for the Occupy movement to sit for weeks or months in our public places to express their disgust in offensive terms against our governmental and economic systems, then it's OK for somebody to speak out in offensive terms against President Obama. Speech, even offensive speech, has always been protected by a long history of decisions by the US Supreme Court. Bottom line: "Go to Hell Mr. Moran!"
Adriana March 01, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I love our president Barack Obama, and I love our country where freedom of speech and expression reign. The poster quote may offend some, but to stir conversation is the job of a poster.
Joe Blow March 01, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Wow, this is a great case study in viral marketing ... this movie is getting far more free advertising from the controversy than they would have gotten from the sign alone. Those of you arguing it is disrespectful ... please let me know where that is prohibited in the constitution. Those of you arguing it is profane or inappropriate ... are you also launching a full scale war on all forms of media? ... because "go to hell" pales in comparison to the language used on network television and pictures shown in other advertisements.
Lindsey March 01, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I am scared to death for all of us with the way that health care is changing. It does need fixing, but this is not the solution. Socialized health care is frightening, and if you think that our parents will be taken care of you are sorely mistaken. This is freedom of speech. This is trying to wake America up to the reality of socialized health care. People go years without hip/knee replacements. People die waiting on lists for surgery. Doctors in these other countries are paid poorly, so the best and the brightest have less incentive to become our healers. Everyone needs to respect and honor freedom of speech whether or not you agree. If this had been an ad against any other president, it would not have caused this much of a stink. He too is allowed to be criticized as much as any other politician.
Loudoun mom March 01, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I am fine with the free speech. What really bothers me is the total disrespect for the highest office in the land. Such hate mongering has led to violence all across the US, and really needs to stop!
Bob LaLey March 01, 2012 at 05:30 PM
No it isn't. It is not political in nature and profanity is unacceptable on government property. All speech is not free!
T Ailshire March 01, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Bob, if you believe profanity is unacceptable on government property, please talk to our Vice President, many of our current legislators, and a significant proportion of our government employees. Let it go. People in this country are free to make asses of themselves.
Joe Brenchick March 01, 2012 at 07:05 PM
So anyone who dares to criticize Obama is automatically a racist? That’s one way to try to silence the critics! Funny how I don’t remember any cries of indignation when Bush was raked over the coals.
Joe Brenchick March 01, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Kind of a long leap from mild language to violence, don’t you think?
Joe Brenchick March 01, 2012 at 07:09 PM
This is the kind of marketing that ad agencies dream of!
K Clark March 01, 2012 at 09:29 PM
This is blatant disrespect! To tell the POTUS to go to hell is insane first and foremost and then to address him by his first name is yet another slap in the face. You couldn't go into any courtroom in this country and address a judge by his first, why is it okay foru the president. I'm all for freedom of speech however, I draw the line at disrespect of anyone.
Will jake March 01, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Respect is earned. Being elected to an office does not earn any respect in my book, ie Motan, Obama, Boehner.. Go out and vote and enjoy our Freedoms.
hmj March 01, 2012 at 09:57 PM
1 million jobs taken from American citizens and given to aliens ( here on work visas). Ask the President and Congress how that helps the high unemployment rate.
K Clark March 01, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Will I'm not sure where or how you were raised but, I was taught respect is a given.....if respect is earned then I guess when we come in contact with complete strangers we should be disrespectful to them until they earn our respect and vice versa. Is that how you propose we live our lives.
Lydia Smith March 02, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Why do we have to respect the office of the presidency? What is so sacred about it that it's above reproach? From what I've seen, the past several holders of the office haven't even respected it.
Lydia Smith March 02, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Do people even realize that the primary intention of the free-speech clause of the First Amendment was to protect political speech? This goes right to the heart of the amendment. Yeah, the language is coarse -- so what? When has that stopped anyone in today's society? And Jim Moran is the last person to be throwing stones. If this had been an ad critical of Bush, no one would bat an eye.
Joe Brenchick March 02, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Touché!
DAVE March 02, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I would never, ever, tell "POTUS" to go to hell!! I would, however, tell Barak and his cronies on Capital Hill to go (expletive deleted) themselves. Having a title doesn't mean everyone has to respect you.
Anoneemous March 03, 2012 at 03:08 AM
The 1st Amendment is designed for Americans to have free speech, even when that means showing blatant disrespect for the man in office and for the office. The 1st Amendment did not say, free speech as long as it is respectful. Sorry. Hey, Barrack... go to hell! See how that works? Cool huh?
Jonathan Erickson March 03, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Tell him to go to hell with your vote!

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