Why it helps to know history

A Pennsylvania newspaper ran a classified ad calling for the assassination of President Barack Obama, reports AP.

The ad read, “May Obama follow in the steps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy!” The four presidents were all assassinated.

The newspaper’s advertising staff didn’t make the historical connection, said Warren Times Observer Publisher John Elchert, who’s now apologizing for the ad.

An Instapundit reader asks what this says about the education of the ad staffers. OK, maybe Garfield and McKinley are obscure, but they didn’t get a clue about the ad’s meaning from Lincoln and Kennedy either.  It helps to know history.

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Comments

  1. And that’s why we can’t afford to cut social studies classes in favor of additional math and reading instruction, despite the test score furor.

  2. Wow, that’s…wow. I might not have remembered that Garfield was assassinated, but those other three, that would have been the immediate link in my mind. (My great-grandmother kept all of the newspaper clippings from McKinley’s assassination – “Our Martyred President” and similar – and my mom has them now).

    That’s really heinous. I mean, yeah, freedom of speech and all that, but wow, that’s chilling to read, that someone proposes that.

    And I’m most definitely not an Obama supporter.

  3. Contrary to the tone of this post, I would say that the problem lies in the person who placed the ad, not the person who failed to spot it and remove it.

  4. Contrary to the tone of this post, I would say that the problem lies in the person who placed the ad, not the person who failed to spot it and remove it.

    This is an education blog. The tone of the post is entirely appropriate.

  5. Tangentially related: when I mentioned Garfield in passing in a mostly-freshmen Latin class, the top student said (begin incredulous teen pronunciation) “There was a president Garfield? Like the CAT?!” Perhaps some day she will learn that Calvin and Hobbes were a theologian and a philosopher before they were cartoon characters.

  6. Ragnarok says:

    Stephen Downes said:

    “Contrary to the tone of this post, I would say that the problem lies in the person who placed the ad, not the person who failed to spot it and remove it.”

    Ah, Senor Downes, missin’ the forest fer the trees, as usual. Ain’t consistency great?

  7. SuperSub says:

    I wonder if the person placing the ad really had that sentiment or if they knew the staff at the paper would be clueless and wanted to play a prank.

    As for it being heinous, I can remember similar sentiments being shared in various ways for the past three Presidents…

  8. Garfield and McKinley are obscure – except for the fact that they were assassinated! Indeed, anyone who can appreciate (or even recognize)any meaningful reference to the iconic Lincoln and Kennedy would have to know, at the very least, that the other two were assassinated. Indeed, the supposed “oversight” of the “obscure” Garfield and McKinley suggests that the significance – any significance – of Lincoln and Kennedy escaped the advertisement editors, as well.

    Given my recollection of Advertising majors from college, this is not surprising.

  9. It had to have been a prank.

  10. “Contrary to the tone of this post, I would say that the problem lies in the person who placed the ad, not the person who failed to spot it and remove it.”

    Of course the person who placed the ad had a problem. I think most of us took it as a given. That just wasn’t the point of the post is all.

  11. Also, this is a classified ad – the primary concern is typically to make sure it’s reproduced accurately. For the most part, it’s a job that requires clerical accuracy rather than an ability to understand allusions.

    I could’ve caught this, but there probably would’ve been plenty of missed typos that got me fired before I got this far!

  12. Bill Leonard says:

    Those who have been following the general fate of newspapers of late, and who have watched want ad sections shrivel and vanish, understand that these days, newspapers will take any — ANY! — revenue-producer. Even the Tarot readers, seers generally, and traders in trusses and eneuresis remedies (‘Men past 40 bothered by bed-wetting?’ was a regular for years) have been looking elsewhere to advertise.

  13. John Drake says:

    Would that someone would institutionalize Stephen Downes for his own good.