The Scoop @ MSCO

Mark Stevens vs. Warren Buffet?

Simulation of the billboard
Does this sign offend you?
So my company, MSCO, has two billboards we leased space on from the behemoth in the industry, Clear Channel. The boards simply present the web site address for my Business Week best selling book, Your Marketing Sucks.

Clear Channel approves the copy, we have a contract, the boards go up on two major roads leading into Manhattan, people frustrated with their current marketing love them and they write and call and ask to meet and talk. Every day. In big numbers.

We have nothing to say, photo from the NetJets site.And then last Wednesday a call comes through from a guy pretending to be a potential client. When we talk, he says he is a senior executive with Net Jets, a holding of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. He is irate! His 6 year old daughter saw the board and the word “sucks” is going to poison his daughter. He needs to call in an exorcist. Bottom line: he demands I take the board down or I “will feel the full wrath of the Berkshire Hathaway empire.” I told him to get a life and the call is over. Case closed. Or so I thought.

Yesterday, two days after the call, I passed the board with a colleague in my firm, Linda Parry. To our shock, our sign had been covered over and the board was black. When Linda called the Clear Channel rep who sold MSCO the space. He advised that someone in the Mayor’s Office in the town of New Rochelle had a complaint or complaints about the board, called Clear Channel, and without a single word with me, ripped the damn thing down. Censorship hits New York? Singapore on the Hudson? The new Beijing? What the hell?

Another Clear Channel board still carries the www.YourMarketingSucks.com message and the company sold MSCO a third for February. So why go to dark on one? Is this the one a The worst part of censorship is... from the English Blog Berkshire minion saw and decided to use the company’s clout to destroy? I have no proof, but I have radar and this smells bad! A corporate giant flicks its pinky ring and the first amendment is tossed in the gutter?

Not so fast. This one’s just starting. Stay tuned.
Mark Stevens
CEO

Here is what the Westchester Journal News wrote about this incident.


Your turn to sound off!

What do you think about this?
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
What would you do if you were in my shoes?
What would you do if you were in Clear Channel’s shoes?

33 Comments

  1. Ed ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 1:30 pm

    How many complaints did the Mayor’s office receive? Just the one.

    I wonder if the person who originally complained realizes they are now responsible for putting the “offensive” URL in front of more eyeballs (The WCJN published the URL, what if the mainstream media picks up the story?). Brilliant!

  2. Nancy Capra ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Are you sure that ROI wasn’t DUI?

    Ride the marketing wave, I think it does not suck!

  3. Mark ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 3:00 pm

    The word sucks is offensive because of it’s sexual root which is why it gets peoples attention and I am guessing why you used it. While I personally don’t think it belongs on a billboard, you will likely get more PR out of the removal than you would have gotten from the billboard. Given your position on this issue and the limited value of your previous communications, I have unsubscribed to your emails.

  4. Pamela Cummins ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Everything happens for a reason. It’s not the first time a corporate big wig stomps on the little guy. You did get extra free publicity! I hope you got a refund on the bill board ad.

  5. tom ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 3:56 pm

    I think that you should find the guy that did this and give him a prize…What a great marketing story..This has now given you a chance to take the national spotlight.

    Was that part of the plan all along?
    tom

  6. gaston mendez ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 5:29 pm

    First off, kudos for that brilliant idea, i’ve seldom seen such good use of a billboard…most billboards, well…SUCK.

    Second off, congratulations on the amount of buzz this is going to generate.

    It doesn’t surprise me that someone out there was gonna be a dickhead about your billboard, what surprises me is that someone actually got to the mayor’s office. This ‘senior executive’ from net jets is truly an idiot. I feel sorry for all those who have to work for him. It’s clear as day this man finds pleasure in knocking someone else down, and has the time to waste chasing things like this and going on personal vendettas fueled by EGO and EGO only. If he can spend the time and effort coordinating a move like this, he must not be busy enough working hard with his own business.

    This is a perfect example of the idea killers out there…i mean imagine working for this guy. He proves that there can be idiots with no life at every rung in the ladder. His 6 year old daughter can go to google, and type in the word ‘sex’ and be bombarded by monstrosities, is he going to after google now? If he really cares that much, why stop at MSCO why not keep crusading against all the bad words seen in the media? ITS RIDICULOUS!!! If this guy can’t handle the word sucks in front of his daughter, what’s he gonna do when he has to start discussing sex and drugs with his daughter in just a few years, jump off a building? What a scared and insecure man!

    This guy (to me at least) is as clear as a sliding glass door. Unhappy guy, miserable at least half of the time, looks at life negatively, not creative, puts people down on many levels (feel bad for his wife if he has one), and jumps at the opportunity to exert power, just like a bad police officer. He obviously is very self-centered and felt that highway was “his turf” and he had to control it. So of course he sets aside everything else he has to do as a “senior executive” to go on this mission that will make him and only him feel better about himself wasting his own time and company time, all to get YOU more publicity!!!!!!! Hilarious!!!!!

    The reason i’m going off is because this touches a nerve with me, i see guys like this all day ever day in south florida. Whether it’s a personal trainer at a gym getting off on not letting me use certain machines, or a customer service operator who is miserable, these people are EVERYWHERE.

    Ultimately, as much as i think these people are idiots, I have to thank them in the end. It’s these people that make it easier for guys like you and me, to grow our success. It’s these people that make us stand out from the crowd. In life’s crazy way of balancing things out, we need these morons around to demonstrate the perfect example of how NOT to be.

  7. Paul ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 6:07 pm

    You doth protest too much.

    You know the word is offensive to many, and if not offensive to others, it is certainly “in your face”. That’s the reason you used it in your books’ titles, not because of literary merit. You hoped to gain attention in the bookstore.

    I originally picked up the book and scanned it because of the title, and my quick scan found a lot of common sense and ideas that I agree with. I can filter the title, and understand perfectly well why you used it. I also understand the risk that many in the bookstore will get angry and pass on it, just because you’ve used that word in the title, but on balance, you probably gain more than you lose. I bought it, so the title served its purpose in the store.

    However, “sucks” is not a word that is used in my household, either by the adults or the children. We find it in poor taste, and I certainly don’t want my 8 or 10 year olds thinking that it is anything but rude, despite the fact that I know they’ve heard it many times at the school yard. There were lots of things I heard in the school yard that weren’t permissable in the household I grew up in either — parents, teachers and guardians have an obligation to set limits and teach kids community standards, so that doesn’t bother me.

    This has nothing to do with 1st amendment rights. You aren’t making a political statement. You aren’t being prohibited from publishing your book, or speaking in appropriate forums. Commercial speech is not the same as public speech, and has no absolute guarantee of privilege. Your website name in large letters on a billboard is offensive to community standards. That Clear Channel accepted it, and that you pretend not to see the offense doesn’t mean that you have the right to stick this message in everyone’s face in a public forum.

    The only part of this that is wrong is that they took your money, but didn’t inform you of the decision to remove the message. That’s just plain stupid on the part of Clear Channel, and the mayor’s office, and a lawsuit waiting to happen. One hopes you’ll get a refund.

    In any case, you will get tons of free publicity. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to make your point. You should be laughing all the way to the bank, not complaining.

  8. gaston mendez ∣ January 29th / 2007 at 8:31 pm

    “You should be laughing all the way to the bank, not complaining.”

    How is he complaining? It seems to me he’s welcoming this challenge with open arms. I see a business owner going after exactly what he believes in and thinks is right, I think that’s how people succeed!! I don’t see someone whose just sitting back and complaining…complainers get left in the dust!

    “This has nothing to do with 1st amendment rights. You aren

  9. Tom Hamp ∣ January 30th / 2007 at 8:10 am

    Mark – Don’t do it! Don’t walk away from this issue. To many times as people, parents and citizens we walk away from issues that make us uncomfortable. What is the difference between sucks and stinks or reeks. That word in your title made me pick up your book in the first place. Much to much we have the few making rules for the many. Stand strong and don’t suck.

  10. Jordan Malik ∣ January 30th / 2007 at 9:14 am

    Mark:

    Good for you for sticking to your guns. Clear Channel is doing you a huge favor because (hopefully) news organizations will pick up on this story and give your books and (delightful, talented) firm ‘free’ publicity.

    As for the Clear Channel ‘executive’ (and I hope you’re reading this), I have two words for you: Sour. Grapes.

    -Jordan

  11. Paul ∣ January 30th / 2007 at 11:18 am

    re: Mr. Mendez remarks and the 1st amendment

    I suppose you can make rhetorical comments about anything you wish, but at least please do some thinking and respond based on facts. The Supreme Court has long held that commercial speech has less protection than other forms of speech, although it has gone back and forth a little on where the line is drawn between what is allowed and what is not.

    For most of our history, the courts held that broad powers were granted by the constitution to (the federal) government to regulate commerce (hence the “Commerce Clause”) and that these powers included governance of commercial speech and advertising. Moreover, this power was frequently exercised. Only recently (since the 1970s) has a more restrictive view of this power been articulated as relates to the 1st amendment and free speech. However, the courts have absolutely concluded that while commercial speech enjoys some protections (e.g. to advertise legal products truthfully), that there is no unfettered protection to say whatever you like in a commercial context.

    In “Central Hudson Gas & Electric v Public Service Commission”, (read the case here: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=447&invol=557 ) the court outlined a series of tests for evaluating commercial speech regulations, which clearly asserts the principle that commercial speech can and should be regulated. For example, deceptive advertising is illegal for this reason. Presumably, you would agree that we should not permit fraud and deception in commercial speech, even if you think it’s OK to be rude.

    By your own admission, you don’t know about the law, but that is precisely what is being discussed here. Mark raised the possibility of challenging the government of New Rochelle based on 1st amendment protections. The internet is a wonderful tool, with lots of free information available. You don’t have to know about the law to have an uninformed opinion, but you would appear a lot more intelligent if you actually took the time to look up what the courts have said and argue based on precedent and fact.

    re: ‘G’ movie rating.

    Wrong here too. The correct rating for a movie using the language on Mark’s book would be PG.

    G means General Audiences. All ages admitted. The youngest of children (or their parents) would not be offended by language, sexual content, violence or other more mature content. PG is also considered to be a designation primarily for children (hence Parental Guidance), especially when viewed in the context of PG-13, which is considered generally OK for anyone over the age of 13.

    It’s interesting that you would raise the notion of movie ratings, however, because billboards are a public medium, seen by everyone and notably, people of all ages. Perhaps what we should consider is that billboards must meet a G rating standard, for the same reason that most young children should not be exposed to PG or higher. Clearly this billboard would fail that standard, and there would not be ambiguity about it.

    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPAA_film_rating_system

    re; bozos of all shapes and sizes

    I’m sorry that you have such a cynical and negative view of the world. In my experience, most people are not “out to screw you”, although undoubtedly some are. Most people are generous and trustable and have endearing human qualities. I’m sure that even you fit that description. While the judgments of the mayor’s office and of Clear Channel’s management were wrong in how they dealt with this issue, neither is trying to hurt anyone. Rather, they are trying to respect that we are pluralistic, with many different views of what is acceptable in the community.

    That said, the vast majority of us who have children would not agree that this is an acceptable message for a billboard. Mark will gain notoriety, and his marketing for his services and books will certainly not be hurt by the controversy, but that has nothing to do with whether and how we should respect each other’s rights to a civil commons.

    Finally, I don’t care whether people disagree with my point of view. That’s the great thing about a free society — we’re all entitled to our own opinions, and to be wrong and to change our mind. But I do care that we discuss serious issues seriously. Get the facts, do some research, and have an opinion because you’ve thought about its implications. Tell me, in a reasoned way, why Mark should have the right to publish billboards with content that is graphic and offensive to a significant part of the community. Argue based on the law, or based on context, or based on what you think community standards really are, and back it up with evidence.

  12. Rajan Sodhi ∣ January 30th / 2007 at 1:39 pm

    The word “sucks” can be found in almost any morning cartoon, newspaper funnies, and prime time show. I would hazard to guess that most children hear that word at school at least 10 times a day. I know I did. At some point, whether we like it or not, certain words creep into mainstream acceptability, and I would suggest this is one of them. Provocative? “Yes” Offensive? “Hardly”. Just as we are expected to teach our children right from wrong, we are also expected to teach our children how to use good judgment, and part of that is knowing how to filter what they see, read and hear the second they step out of the household and in to the real world. Very difficult to begin practicing selective censorship – it’s a slippery slope.

  13. Paul ∣ January 30th / 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Rajan:

    That you’ve become desensitized to a word, or personally don’t find it offensive is immaterial. I am guessing that I’m a fair bit older than you, since the word “sucks” didn’t even enter the public vernacular until I was in late high school, but I grew up in a somewhat rough neighborhood, and heard far worse in the school yard many more than 10 times a day. Frequency of use doesn’t make something less offensive. Intent and context are what make words offensive.

    Take my word for it — a sizable percentage of the population still finds this word offensive, and some find it shocking. A larger percentage who might use it in the locker room, would never use it at home or in front of their children. There’s a good chance that you speak it freely with male colleagues, but would hesitate to say it to a female co-worker (if you don’t, you should, because you could be setting yourself and your company up for charges of creating a hostile work environment or sexual harrassment). I would not appreciate my children saying it within my hearing, though they have probably used it around other kids. If it was neither offensive nor shocking, it would have no impact in a book title.

    There is no slippery slope here. Why not publish a billboard with http://www.f**k-u.com? I can assure you that no billboard owner would allow you to even place that message, let along leave it up. Yet, you can print it in a book or in many magazines, or in this blog. Even staid old newspapers like the Wall Street Journal will publish profanity in a direct quote, although it will never appear in original writing. Call it “selective censorship” if you will, but the fact is, we have always practiced a form of selective censorship. It’s usually called “good judgment” though.

    I’ll be at the front of the line defending Mark’s right to use the word in the right context, but it has no place on a billboard that is seen by everyone. Our community standards have not degraded that far quite yet. There is prima facie evidence of this in the complaints of those who were offended and it the actions of the mayor’s office. Like it or not, community is about everyone, not you specifically.

  14. Anne ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 1:11 am

    Poor taste? Of course—clearly the boards were meant to be provocative. But MSCO is getting tons more exposure than you would have had no one complained. So, congratulations! I wouldn’t want to see such a board in my community. A book with the same title is a lot easier to avoid if one finds it offensive. I do think Clear Channel was wrong to take it down, particularly without any discussion with you.

    Congratulations to Mr. ‘Senior Executive’ who has demonstrated how not to win friends and influence people.

    I put a one question poll on my site to see what other folks have to say about it. http://www.brandsizzle.com/blog/2007/01/trends.html

  15. Andrea Learned ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 10:08 am

    The word “sucks” is offensive to some and not others, obviously. As a book title, it will attract and interest the readers you want to find – and I think business book buyers have likely seen worse or the equivalent for a long time. As a billboard – I think it was worth a discussion, considering the community placement of it, and I might have relied on ClearChannel a bit more – to direct placement and/or state a policy about how they’d take it down if there were X number of complaints or somesuch (so it was mutually understood when you signed the contract). With media on display and easily accessible by everyone at all times – online, in the middle of primetime television, on billboards – we seem to have to be more responsible for where our own eyes (and our kids) may linger. Certainly, it is a huge frustration to be exposed to stuff you don’t want to be exposed to, and you can pick your battles – but I’m not sure there is any way you can keep everything you’d like to avoid out of view.

  16. johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy) ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Reckon Warner Business Books should eliminate any thoughts of doing billboard advertising with Clear Channel to support Bob Sutton’s newest book — THE NO ASSHOLE RULE.

  17. Marketing Recruiter ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I can understand the executive’s gripe. I have four kids (and one on the way). Little kids are like sponges. My daughter would have seen the billboard and asked “Dad, what does Your Marketing Sucks mean?” She’s 8, and she’s at the age where she would not have let it drop had I given her a cheap answer. She’s like her mom in that regard.

    Now, what do I say? “Marketing is the act of trying to get somebody to buy what you are selling … and Sucks means it’s bad.”

    Then what? She thinks “sucks” is a generic term for “bad” and is likely to repeat it in school, as in “this cafeteria food sucks.”

    Now she’s in trouble with the teacher, who eats lunch with the kids every day — and other kids may pick up this language that they heard from my daughter, and their parents complain about my daughter’s inappropriate use of language. And now I have to explain to my daughter than sucks is really shorthand for oral sex. Great.

    Why is this necessary? Because it’s clutter busting? Because the URL was available? Maybe. But just as likely it’s because you may not have kids, or because the problem you caused with my kids is very abstract and not your problem. It’s selfish.

    To all gentle readers: You are not making the world a better place by making kids grow up any faster than they are supposed to. Children need your protection from mature influences.

  18. Rajan Sodhi ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Wow, this issue has evoked some passion as all good issues should. Paul, I can appreciate your point-of-view but where do you draw the line? I recall many times seeing billboards as well as public store fronts in shopping malls advertising the fashion company “fcuk”, which stands for “French Connection UK”. The “fcuk” is obviously meant to shock – read it fast enough and the other word appears. I don’t see anyone recalling those ads or preventing their children from going to malls.

  19. Paul ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t draw the line. The community does. I’m defending both Mark’s right to publish his book (free speech) and the executive’s right to not be offended by a message in a public forum.

    I’m well aware of the controversy caused by FCUK in the UK, and remember how shocked I was about 10 years ago, the first time a taxicab greeted me at the train station with FCUK emblazoned in large letters on the side. Even in the UK, which is far more liberal than the US, it has stirred up many legal and community fights, and the Advertising Standards Authority has banned some of their ads and ordered the company to submit all posters for approval before publication. On the other hand, in the first year after the new logo (the company used to be branded French Connection) was introduced, sales nearly doubled, so there is no doubt they are exploiting the offense that half the public takes to attract the other half.

    FCUK will never be allowed on a billboard in the US.

  20. jbmalik ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Marketing Recruiter: Or, you could show your kids the wonderful power of knowledge, and defer them to the dictionary, which has a 100% Approved by Parents, Grade-A definition of ‘suck’:

    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=suck

    Function: verb
    Etymology: Middle English suken, from Old English sucan; akin to Old High German sugan to suck, Latin sugere
    transitive verb
    1 a : to draw (as liquid) into the mouth through a suction force produced by movements of the lips and tongue b : to draw something from or consume by such movements c : to apply the mouth to in order to or as if to suck out a liquid
    2 a : to draw by or as if by suction b : to take in and consume by or as if by suction
    intransitive verb
    1 : to draw something in by or as if by exerting a suction force; especially : to draw milk from a breast or udder with the mouth
    2 : to make a sound or motion associated with or caused by suction
    3 : to act in an obsequious manner — usually used with up
    4 slang : to be objectionable or inadequate
    - suck it up : to make

  21. Harry Joiner ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 3:10 pm

    My daughter could see the letters FCUK and not know that it is a play on a word. Regardless, the good people behind FCUK either 1.) don’t have children, or 2.) don’t care about mine. Or both.

    Why is it that trans fats can be banned in NYC and second hand smoke is demonized everywhere, but when it comes to polluting the minds of our children, nobody seems to care?

  22. gaston mendez ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Harry:

    trans fats and second hand smoke KILL people….bad language does really nothing, other than make frightened parents get their panties in a knot.

    Newsflash, you can’t keep your children sheltered, it will only make them seek things out even more. Kids can watch TV or the news and learn about prostitution, the acts of rape & murder, money laundering, sex and all different criminal acts. Now someone puts the words SUCKS on the billboard and a community of parents are in uproar because it’s ‘offensive’…priceless. Who is it offensive to? The kids? or the parents who care more about “not having to deal with explaining something to their kids.” I mean if you can’t handle a conversation with your children about the word ‘sucks’ and parenting them into knowing what’s right and wrong, how are you gonna handle an actual DIFFICULT parenting situation? Run away from it? Avoid it for as long as humanly possible? The funny part is these parents (such as the senior executive) can’t properly explain to his own 6 year old what’s right/wrong about something as insignificant as the word suck which will wind up being used in life many times, but he can dedicate time, efforts, and contacts to ignite a series of events to get a billboard removed with Clear Channel communications? I find that out and out hilarious. If only he dedicated that kind of effort into parenting, he probably could have laughed with his daughter about the billboard and maybe even, dare i say, bonded with her a little.

    Considering the people here, I doubt very much anyone has seen the south park movie(youd probably find it way too profane and ‘childish’), but one of the main parts of the plot line is how kyle’s obsessive mother goes on a crusade for censorship and starts a full blown war with Canada over censoring a movie that had too many bad words in. All of you potty-mouth crusaders should watch this movie and deem yourselves Mrs. Sheila Broflosfsky.

    DEAR GOD WILL SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

  23. Paul ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Mr. Malik,

    There are lots of words in the dictionary that could be offensive, and that children may or may not ever find. Few of us sit down and read dictionaries cover to cover. It also depends on which dictionary one uses:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Sucks

    where

    5. Vulgar Slang To perform fellatio on.

    is listed as the meaning that we all know is intended.

    I can only surmise that if Mr. Joiner’s painfully simple description of a scenario in which he would be forced to explain to his 8 year old daughter the meaning of fellatio, and why someone would do it — if that is beyond your comprehension, then you must not have children, or you possess the power of knowledge but have no clue how to use it.

    Harry, it isn’t that nobody cares, but that many puerile-minded, insensitive and selfish “marketers” haven’t the intelligence to create marketing campaigns that don’t rely on below the belt shock factor to make their point. Or they don’t understand the difference between the privacy of their bedroom and the shared space of the commons. There are also many marketers out there who do get it, as you must know from interviewing and speaking with them in your practice.

  24. Harry Joiner ∣ January 31st / 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Dear Gaston,

    Thanks for the reply. You say “trans fats and second hand smoke KILL people

  25. Nedra Weinreich ∣ February 1st / 2007 at 5:04 am

    Harry, I totally agree with you. I think parents have an obligation to protect their kids’ innocence for as long as possible. Otherwise, they will be jaded and cynical from a young age. That’s not good for anyone. They’ll learn about the bad stuff soon enough.

    That said, I think that Clear Channel handled this situation extremely poorly. They should have written policies regarding what falls within their guidelines of acceptability in terms of content. If they did not feel the word “sucks” was appropriate, they should not have agreed to post the billboard. Having signed the contract, they were then obligated to follow through despite the complaint they received. I wouldn’t call that censorship. I think it was just poor judgment on their part — whether to accept it in the first place (which should be at their discretion) or to take it down in response to perceived community pressure.

    I posted my take on this controversy on my blog here:
    http://www.social-marketing.com/blog/2007/01/rude-crude-socially-unacceptable.html

  26. Jim ∣ February 2nd / 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Not offended at all by this sign. In fact, I wish I thought of it. Second, I think it’s ridiculous that it be covered over or removed without your input on the action, I mean the space was clearly paid for, contract and all. I say that if someone gets all hot under the collar for what they deem an offensive word the last place they should be concerned with is a billboard that doesn’t even move or talk or combine its efforts with offensive images; it’s only text.

    If you’re gonna be concerned how about television, or school, or walking down the street. It just seems a little ridiculous to me that the billboard be the focus of the underlying issue, lack of good ‘ole parental communication. If they are soooo concerned: “Now that’s a word we don’t say, right little Suzie?” See: Done.

    As far as what I think should be done. I say you should pursue whatever action one would pursue…. maybe make the next billboard bright orange or something. I say Clear Channel should put the billboard back up, or an ad of your choosing, free for three months or something. It only seems fair. And perhaps coffee delivered to the office for a month. I think that’d suit me.

    The only reason I made it to this site in the first place is because I saw that billboard, and now being informed that it has been taken down, I think I just died a little on the inside. Good luck.

  27. gaston mendez ∣ February 2nd / 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Harry,

    Don’t you think you’re going way overboard? You compare trans fats, and second hand smoke, both things that lead to human DEATH to potty-mouthed language. That in and of itself is ridiculous.

    Now you go on to group the word ‘suck’ with bitch, nigga, and ho. I think your comparisons favor your points, but are in no way valid. If you go up to 100 people and say “hey, you SUCK!” vs. “hey, you are a BITCH!” or “hey, you are a NIGGA!”, I guarantee you’re not even in the same ball park when you see the people’s reactions. You’re stretching your comparisons to favor your mentality way too much here.

    Just to be clear, the word sucks in no way belongs grouped with bitch, nigga, ho, shit, fuck, ass.

  28. Paul ∣ February 2nd / 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Gaston:

    I can only assume that you are either very young and inexperienced, or hopelessly naive. If you walked up to anyone at random and said any of those things, you are almost guaranteed to start a fight, if not get knifed or shot, depending on the neighborhood you’re in and the individual you say it to.

    By definition, the statement “You suck” directed at an individual is legally assault, and you could be even be arrested for saying it to someone who took serious offense. In fact, I recommend that you try it and see what trouble you can stir up. It would be a worthy social experiment, and if you want to volunteer your face as a response mechanism, none of the rest of us would object.

    If your mind is the least bit open to a different point of view, I suggest you read about the “broken windows theory”. See: http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/_atlantic_monthly-broken_windows.pdf

    Even if you don’t believe that ‘sucks’ is a bad word that is offensive to many, it absolutely qualifies as a ‘broken window’. If we want to fix the big problems, we need to sweat the little ones. It’s the way things work.

    Still, the fact that you don’t find it offensive, and therefore don’t care what others think betrays a profound self-centered outlook. For many, many years the white population found no offense in the term “nigger”, while it was deeply offensive to their dark-skinned brethren. Now, almost everyone finds it offensive. Did the fact that whites found it OK make it alright to use? Of course not. If you go through life being so insensitive to those around you that your only yardstick is how you feel about something, then you are indeed selfish and unaware, and probably a very unpleasant person to be around. I feel sorry for you.

  29. makethelogobigger ∣ February 5th / 2007 at 2:17 pm

    If you went immediately to a sexual meaning of ‘sucks’ instead of one that simply means lousy, you have too much free time. Either that, or you

  30. Harry Joiner ∣ February 5th / 2007 at 5:02 pm

    “If you went immediately to a sexual meaning of ‘sucks’ instead of one that simply means lousy, you have too much free time. Either that, or you’re pent up and need to get out more.”

    … either that, or you are a normally inquisitive 8-year old girl. See my original comment under “Marketing Recruiter” above.

    Friends, no offense intended by my comments, and none taken by yours. I am a father of four (soon to be five) small children, and I can’t have them running around saying “sucks” or “butt” or “blows” all day. Trust me, they would if they thought it would get a rise out of me!

    Dear readers: We are obviously on different wave lengths here. No big deal. Best of luck to you all — including Gaston ;-) Thanks for the debate.

  31. makethelogobigger ∣ February 5th / 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Been there. Six grows up to be 19 real fast.

    Where do you draw the line at life then? In that case, the only solution for that fear is to keep your kids home. Forever. As much as you want to protect them, it all goes out the window the first time they ride the school bus. They’ll hear stuff that will make you cringe. It’s then you’ll know whether what you’ve taught them in terms of morals and manners will be enough to ignore that stuff or not.

    Your attempt to prevent your kids from hearing anything offensive will only inspire their interest in exploring it further. Best you can do is change the channel, limit their TV and explain the stuff they may see and why you don’t approve. If you repeat the message enough, it’ll sink in and they might actully surprise you by showing you it actually DID get through.

    Sanitize all the billboards you want. It’s out of your hands when they’re out of your house. As someone mentioned, start with the checkout lanes of most food stores first though and the crap on magazine covers there. It

  32. cancer healing ∣ March 6th / 2012 at 6:29 pm

    cancer healing…

    [...]Mark Stevens vs. Warren Buffet? | Unconventional Thinking[...]…

  33. Robert W ∣ April 2nd / 2012 at 8:11 pm

    PART I, The offense.
    I think there’s only a 50% chance or less, that an eight year old even commented on the bulletin board or saw it. Most kids in a car are talking, playing with some digital device or toy or sleeping. But even so, the high art of parenting is being able to provide an age and intellectually appropriate answer to children’s questions. Every kid and family and community combine to present a different instance of a teaching moment. Explaining “sucks” is good practice for the tough ones tomorrow.

    This is not to say that there are not community standards. Paraphrasing Justice Potter Stewart on pornography, we might say, “I can’t describe [all] offensive words, but I know one when I see it.” I don’t envision Manhattan as bible belt country, and believe that most people who saw it would not be so offended as to think it should come down, admitting, perhaps, that it was coarse.

    PART II, the recourse.
    When a trail of blame seems obscure, follow the money (or threatened absence of same). I’m not going to take the time to conjecture exactly how it flows in this case, but I’ll bet the farm that no one acted on strictly moral conviction. Mark obviously has a breach of contract here, but, hey, these are all big boys and in the long haul need to play together. Mark is going to see Mr C. Channel, take him to lunch and ask, WTF??? There will follow some confession, some “but the devil made me do it” remark, and a considerable amount of gratis bill board space coming up. Who knows, maybe the absent mayor may get some feather oil in the form of a small campaign donation as well.

    The winner here: Mark Stevens, showing us his marketing genius. The losers: everyone standing around tsk-tsking and wringing their hands.