7 Words You Can't Say in Minneapolis

McCain. Reduce. The. Threat.  Of. Nuclear. Weapons.

And, it turns out, Clear Channel Outdoor Advertising won’t allow those words in Denver either when directed to Senator Obama.

They say that the surest way to get the public’s attention is to have your work banned.  And that’s what happened when MKSP worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists on an ad campaign aimed at delegates, media, and campaign staff attending the Democratic and GOP conventions.  The goal: get them to think about, and maybe start doing something about, the threat posed by huge U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles.

UCS put up giant ads in the Minnesota and Denver airports to greet convention visitors — as well as others traveling through two of the nation’s busiest airports.  Ads were also placed in bars and restaurants around the convention sites and on political blogs in both states.

In Denver, the ad met with no controversy.  In Minneapolis, however, it was another story altogether.  Northwest Airlines — the official airline of the Republican Convention — asked Clear Channel, owner of the ad space, to remove the ad on the grounds that it was “anti-McCain” and could be “offensive/scary to some.”

It’s worth noting that Senator McCain’s presidential campaign website explicitly states “The time has come to take further measures to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, and the U.S. must be a leader.”  In that light, it’s pretty tough to claim the UCS ad is anti-McCain.  And there’s no doubt that nuclear weapons are scary; that’s why both McCain and Obama agree that nuclear stockpiles should be reduced — and why it’s important to talk about this issue.

But not only did Clear Channel readily agree to take down the ad in Minneapolis, but they went even further by preemptively taking down the ad in Denver — even though no one had complained (not that complaints should be the standard for deciding whether an ad can be seen by the public.)

The decisions by Northwest Airlines and Clear Channel to remove the ad garnered articles in dozens of newspapers across the country, including the New York Times, which, of course, gave a big boost to UCS’s efforts to educate people about the need to reduce nuclear stockpiles.