A federal judge’s recent ruling that a state law limiting the placement of billboards advertising adult businesses is unconstitutional does not sit well with the CEO of the State Chamber of Commerce. U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie issued the ruling last week. The legislature passed a law in 2006 banning billboards advertising adult-oriented businesses from being placed within a mile of public roads. The owner of “the Lion’s Den,” an adult bookstore along I-26 in Orangeburg County, sued the legislature a year ago. The company said the law violated the business’ right to free speech.
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President Otis Rawl says he understands the right to free speech, but especially in a tourist oriented state like South Carolina, image is important in attracting visitors.”I think it sends the wrong message for these type of advertisements to be along our interstates and our primary and secondary roads. I think we have to leave it up to our individual companies to kind of police themselves and decide whether or not they want to put these type of advertisements up in the areas in which they have billboards or where they live.”
Rawl says the ruling does not help the state maintain it’s image as a tourist state that is family oriented. Rawl says he hopes billboard companies will use some discretion in accepting business from adult businesses and where there messages are placed.
“Without a doubt, I think it sheds a poor light on South Carolina as visitors visit us and we would hope that our businesses that have billboards would make the election to not make those type of advertisements available to those other types of companies.”