A Texas company is taking the business maxim “all publicity is good publicity” to a disgusting degree. The company, Hornet Signs, specializes in realistic decals on trucks, drew attention to their service by painting a hogtied woman on a decal. It’s realistic enough that several Waco residents called the police to report a kidnapping. From a distance, the truck does indeed look like there is a woman tied up.
Waco residents were understandably upset:
“Abduction or any violence against women is not funny or cute,” said one person on the Facebook page of Texas station News 10.
The owner of Hornet Signs, Brad Kolb, was perplexed by the big reaction he got from his casual portrayal of violence against women.
"I wasn't expecting the reactions we got, nor do we condone this by any means,” Kolb said.
The whole “we don’t condone this, we’re just portraying it” argument is a tricky one to handle, because it’s a misdirection. It’s not as though Kolb and his company have to be encouraging kidnapping women by printing a kidnapped woman on a truck decal. What Kolb is missing is that some images are upsetting and shocking, and to trick people into seeing them is cruel and callous. On top of that, the fake truck decal is always going to be a joke: at first look it looks real, and then you look again and get the punchline, that the truck decal is fake. To use a kidnapped woman as the subject of that joke is to make light of a horrible thing.