Without even getting into the issue of what the billboards say, what really annoys me is the fact that there are so many of them. I think they're taking up more than their fair share of billboard space, and I don't think it's fair to the other organizations that want to advertise. I would say the same thing if it were Sanford or First Premier Bank or Avera or Badlands or any of the big advertisers in Sioux Falls using up three billboards within a 50-yard radius--especially when they all say the EXACT SAME THING!
Another concern about the billboards--again, quite apart from the matter of the actual content--is that they tend to be really wordy. They're usually big blocks of text with no pictures. I've been doing some research as I've been stopped at traffic lights, and the typical, run-of-the-mill billboards run an average of about 10-15 words. On these big, blue nuisances, I counted about 26 words. My concern is that when your billboard contains the equivalent of a small novel and people are trying to read it as they drive past, that creates a potential traffic hazard.
And the really frustrating thing is, I know that they're doing it on purpose. They're trying to be just as obnoxious as they possibly can so if the city finally steps in and tries to regulate things, they can raise a big stink and say, "Oooh, look how atheists/agnostics are being persecuted in South Dakota! Ooooh, our First Amendment rights are being violated! Ooooh, let's throw as big a temper tantrum as we possibly can so we can draw national attention to our cause!" So initially, I figured the best response was just to ignore the stupid billboards as best I can, just as the best way to react to a toddler throwing a tantrum is not to react at all. Free country, turn the other cheek, and all that. But now I really think the billboards are creating a public health hazard, so I really do think the city should step in. Clearly the billboard companies don't care about anything except getting paid, so it would have to be up to the city to do something. And as awful as it would be to have a big, ugly fight that reflects negatively on South Dakota, it would be so much worse to have somebody get hurt--or even die--in a traffic accident because they were distracted by the stupid billboards.
I don't think it would be unreasonable to have a law limiting the number of billboards any one group can put up. It wouldn't matter what the billboards say or who's putting them up; it would apply to everyone across the board. It wouldn't prevent the group from putting up their billboards; it would just limit the number of billboards they can put up. Six billboards on a two-and-a-half mile stretch of road is really excessive; two billboards would be sufficient, and I would say the same thing regardless of what they said.
But then, I am a self-professed Christian, so whatever I say, I'm going to be suspected of having some ulterior motive. What do you think? Am I a narrow-minded believer, or are these people out of line?