Much of Calvert County, Md. is peaceful, tranquil, bucolic. The Chesapeake Bay makes up its entire eastern shore. But in the small town of Huntington, population 3,486 in 2019, a political billboard at the intersection of two of the county’s main roads is getting locals – and probably those just passing through – riled up.
It reads “Don’t Blame Trump! You Are Stuck With These Two Sh**heads!!! From All Your Deplorables in Calvert County.” It also includes cartoon-like drawings of the president and vice president’s heads on top of poop emojis.
“It’s just vulgar,” said Jeanette Flaim, who is the chair of the Calvert County Democratic Central Committee. “This does not reflect the values of our County, regardless of party. Our county is home to a myriad of families who must drive by this on their way from school or work. Our county welcomes visitors from far and wide. Parents should not have to explain something so vile to their small children. And it certainly shouldn’t be what our visitors remember us for.”
Another message posted on the same billboard went viral online in 2018. That one read: “Hey Liberals Better Get Your Guns If You Try To Impeach President Trump.” The tagline made it clear it was put up by the same group of so-called “deplorables”, a reference to supporters of twice-impeached former president Donald Trump.
Who put the signs is a mystery. The sign is on private property. When a TV reporter called the phone number connected to the owner of the sign according to county records, the woman who answered the call denied being responsible.
County officials say there’s nothing they can do to take down the sign. A statement posted on the Calvert County Government Facebook page explains that the county “Cannot regulate sign content based on the Supreme Court case decision Reed v. Town of Gilbert (2015). The Calvert County local sign regulations are based on location, materials and size, not verbiage. Regulating any content based on the Supreme Court decision would be illegal.”
County Board of Commissioners President Earl “Buddy” Hance said, “There is nothing that we as county government can do for language that’s on a legal sign. This country was built on the foundation of free speech, and sometimes we like what that free speech says and sometimes we don’t.”