Alleged terrorist group PETA is at it again!
PETA sign equates pig with Lamb
Eastbound travelers on Interstate 40 see the message on a 36-foot-wide billboard just north of Wilmington: "He Died For Your Sins. Go Vegetarian."
The words end next to a 12-foot-tall image of a squinty-eyed pig. And that's the only place you'll see the sign in North Carolina, where equating a pig with Jesus just doesn't fly.
Only one company in the nation's second-largest hog-producing state accepted $3,500 from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to put up the billboard for a month during the Easter season.
"We feel they have just as much right to get their message out to the public as hotels, motels and topless bars," said Donald Tedder, owner of Outdoor Ink!, an independent Wilmington-based billboard firm that put up the sign Tuesday. "It's not an ugly picture. In fact it's kind of cute."
But Bobby Soule, general manager of Lamar Advertising's Asheville office, who has rented billboard space to PETA before, rejected the message.
"In my mind only one person died for our sins," he said Wednesday. "And it's not a pig."
A PETA spokesman said the ad -- part of an anti-meat Easter campaign aimed at farming states -- was turned down by all the major North Carolina billboard companies, including Fairway Outdoor Advertising, Lamar Advertising Co. and Viacom Outdoor. PETA managed to rent signs only in Savannah, Ga.; Springfield, Mo.; Pensacola, Fla.; and Wilmington.
A Viacom spokesman declined to comment, and managers at the two other companies said the design is offensive and violates voluntary standards set by the 1,100-member Outdoor Advertising Association of America.
"It's not a true statement, so why would we choose as a company to put it out there?" asked Chris Best, Fairway's sales manager in Raleigh. He said he posed the same question to the PETA representative who called him, and she never really answered.
Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach and a self-described devout Christian, said the public needs to hear the group's argument: that farm animals are routinely abused in the state's slaughterhouses. "We want everyone to think about the fact that if they're eating meat they're promoting cruelty to animals," he said, especially during Easter. "It's a time for Christians to ponder what we can do to decrease suffering and misery in the world."
Beth Anne Mumford, spokeswoman for the N.C. Pork Council, an advocate for the pork industry, called the billboard another in a series of PETA's "outrageous antics to promote their anti-meat agenda."
"It seems highly inappropriate to me that during this period of one of the most important religious holidays for the people of North Carolina that this billboard would be posted," she said. "I think people are going to see through that."
Tedder, whose firm owns about 250 signs statewide, said he will consider feedback but has no plans to cancel PETA's contract. Ever the entrepreneur, he offered another solution for those upset by PETA's message: Rent a billboard of their own nearby.
But he added: "I'd probably try to separate it so it's not the same line of sight."