The state of Louisiana and the liberal political group MoveOn may be headed to court over a billboard that parodies the state tourism board‘s “Pick your Passion” campaign.
The billboard — which reads, “LOU!SIANA[,] Pick your passion! But hope you don’t love your health. Gov. Jindal’s denying Medicaid to 242,000 people.” — is critical of Governor Bobby Jindal’s decision not to accept federal funds to expand the state’s Medicaid program.
Last year, Jindal wrote that he opposed accepting the federal funds for many reasons, the foremost of which is ideological.
“The fight over Medicaid expansion is a microcosm of this president’s push towards centralized government control,” he wrote. “We are day by day giving up more and more of our freedoms to an ever larger and more powerful government. This president has shown through his policies and rhetoric that he does not trust the American people.”
But Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne said that the reason he sent a cease-and-desist order isn’t ideological, but because the signs “confuse the issue,” as the slogan “Pick your Passion” is an officially registered trademark of the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
“We think it’s going to create confusion that we are the ones calling on the governor to take that action. I’m not going to let partisan Washington politics infringe on the brand we have created to market our state,” he said on Wednesday.
MoveOn’s communications director, Nick Berning, toldThe Times-Picayune that his organization would not be removing the billboard, saying that “[i]t’s pretty clear the First Amendment protects this sort of speech.”
A constitutional law professor at Tulane University, Keith Werhan, agreed that the case against MoveOn would be weak, telling The Times-Picayune that “[t]he government can’t legally silence those who are criticizing them.”
[Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R), image via Wikimedia, Creative Commons licensed.]
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.