Nowadays people need to be careful what they do with their hands.
Case in point: Virginia has developed a new advertising campaign to promote tourism. The slogan is “Live Passionately.” See that picture at the right? The woman’s hands? That heart shape is supposed to represent passion (as in “Virginia is for Lovers”).
Unfortunately, this particular configuration of the hands also represents allegiance to the Black Gangster Disciples, a notorious drug-dealing “street organization” rooted in Chicago.
The hand sign is demonstrated in the photo below, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. It’s one of a variety of Gangster Disciple hand signs.
Well, once Virginia tourism officials found that out, they announced the symbol would be removed from all upcoming advertising.
Alisa Bailey, head of the Virginia Tourism Corp., said in a statement: "We have decided to adjust the new Virginia is for Lovers Live Passionately campaign due to concerns that the heart/hand symbol has a meaning other than what our agency intended.
“For the majority of people, the heart sign is a symbol of love – and the campaign’s images intended to convey a love of travel and love of Virginia. A heart has been our symbol since 1969 and we were looking for new ways to express it.”
The reaction to this turnabout? “Virginia got punked by the Gangster Disciples,” wrote Shanna Flowers, a Roanoke Times columnist. (Ms. Flowers is black.) “Here's an idea for a new campaign for the folks at the tourism agency: Virginia is for Wusses.”
Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch opined: “Don't get me wrong: Gangs are a serious problem, even in Virginia. No one is trying to make light of that. But have we reached a point where any gesture, no matter how innocent, is guilty by the obscurest of associations? Do we really need to give gangsters and thugs that much power over us?”
I say: Better safe than sorry. Why take a chance that some travel brochure or billboard could lead to the shedding of...