Anyway, this poster included the catchphrase "Stick this DVD in your rack!" and appears to be marketing a "Holiday Edition" of a DVD called Girls on Trampolines. Near as I can figure, it's a holiday-themed "movie" in which attractive women jump up and down on trampolines. Oh, and they're topless. The poster even includes a message indicating, "WARNING: Contains really cute, but topless jumpers." So, hey, you've got to give them credit for truth in advertising. And yes, for those who are wondering, this DVD does appear to be associated with Comedy Central's The Man Show, which includes a short clip of women on trampolines in every airing. And yes, I know this from watching. I've never been interested in following the show, but I won't lie about having seen it.
I bring this up because it affords us a chance for a little natural experiment. I've identified two more of these posters in the department hallway, along with posters for the Ben Stiller movie Dodgeball. I'm going to check back periodically throughout the day and see what happens to these posters. On the one hand, the general left-leaning nature of a sociology department may lead people to tear these posters down as they are demeaning towards women. On the other hand, some of our more sophisticated members may consider that these posters could constitute free speech, and might leave them up, even though they are objectionable. Finally, the presence of the "Dodgeball" posters (Which include the charming catchphrase, "Grab life by the ball") will allow us to distinguish poster removals due to some policy about advertising, from those that are more politically motivated.
I'll be sure and update you throughout the day on what happens.
What's my view on the posters? Well, the model is kind of severe looking- like she'd grind my bones to make her bread, and- Hmmmm? Oh, you meant about leaving them up or taking them down? It's an interesting question. I think I would generally say that the department should have a policy of removing advertising for off-campus businesses but that, absent such a policy, the posters should not be removed by the department itself.
The real question is this: if a private citizen tore down the posters, would that constitute free speech? Let me know what you think. Or not. I'll be here, either way.
7:30 AM: The game is afoot!
8:30 AM: So far no activity. Also: no people. My officemate thinks the poster is amusing. Believe he secretly wrote down the web address.
9:30 AM: A few people are beginning to arrive. Posters remain unmolested, so to speak.
10:30 AM: No movement, though I believe I've overheard some muttering about the posters.
11:00 AM: They're gone! All the posters have been removed to parts unknown. Well, most likely transcans unknown. The Dodgeball posters, on the other hand, remain in their original locations.
Wow... only three and a half hours. And that's including a fairly lengthy period when hardly anyone was here. Well, we didn't need freedom of expression anyway. You might make an argument that advertising isn't protected as speech but, if that's the case, why not remove the posters for a stupid Dodgeball movie as well? It would certainly appear that someone objected not to the advertising, but to the content of the advertising, and thus this particular situation appears to be a fairly clear instance of censorship.
I extend my thanks to my unwitting, and thoroughly anonymous, subjects. It's been fun.