The controversial sign on southbound Route 2/4 near Bowie Shop Road in Huntingtown now has competition.
Near the intersection of Route 2/4 and Plum Point Road, south of the Lord Calvert Bowling Alley, the Foundation for Better Life has erected a billboard message that promotes civility using the words of America’s 16th president.
“A house divided … cannot stand,” the sign reads, borrowing from then-Senate hopeful Abraham Lincoln in his June 16, 1858, address at the Illinois Republican Convention.
The ellipsis on the sign represents the “against itself” Lincoln spoke of in the now-iconic speech and is reflective of ongoing tension in the United States since the 2016 presidential election.
The foundation is a nonpartisan organization the creates public service messages that have a “general universal appeal,” according to its website www.PassItOn.com.
Some of the public service announcement messaging promotes confidence, courage, literacy and character. The organization crafts the PSA in video, for radio and billboard ads, and reports the air time or media space is donated nationwide.
Locally, the new sign counters the multiple iterations of the sign erected by “all your deplorables in Calvert County.” The ‘deplorables’ moniker was sarcastically borrowed from former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s reference to supporters of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“If you don’t like it hear LEAVE! Make America Great Again,” reads the sign at 3030 Solomons Road in Huntingtown, referring to Trump’s statements and tweets about four minority female lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Past messaging on the billboard included “Hey Liberals Better get your guns if you try to impeach President Trump,” and broached topics including abortion, immigration and collusion with Russia. While controversial, the messaging is protected by the First Amendment.
State law governs the use of outdoor advertising on state highways. However, message content is not regulated.
Content-based sign regulations were prohibited in U.S. Supreme Court case decision Reed v. Town of Gilbert (2015).
It is not clear who is responsible for the controversial messages, but the actual billboard that hosts the sign is registered to a Shirley McIntyre of the same address.
“Yes, I’m the owner of the infrastructure of the billboard of Huntingtown, but not the messaging,” McIntyre wrote in a text to The Calvert Recorder. “They rent it and put their advertising [on] the billboard.”
McIntyre did not confirm who is the owner of the politically charged messages.
As previously reported in The Calvert Recorder in July 2018, Sheriff Mike Evans (R) was quoted in a Washington Post article saying the man who rented out space on that billboard gave him space as an in-kind (non-monetary) contribution during the Republican primary.
In September 2018, Evans’ campaign reported an in-kind contribution for the billboard worth $500 from SD Properties LLC of Lusby, which is owned by Raymond Glasgow, according to the state. Attempts to reach Glasgow by press deadline were unsuccessful.
As for how the civility sign bearing Lincoln’s likeness came to be in Calvert a mere 2.1 miles away from the controversial sign is not clear.
Spokesperson Brie Stewart said the Foundation for Life does "not choose the locations our billboards are featured; that’s up to the billboard companies."