Autographed Copy of Jesus Christ

Bill Neinast

Free speech is not free.  You pay for it every time you sit in front of a TV and watch endless commercials that are not censored. 

This thought was brought to mind by a letter to the editor of the current issue of the Bluebonnet Electric Co-op’s issue of the Texas Co-op Powermagazine.  The reader was reminiscing about the English language radio station just south of the Rio Grande after WWII.  Some outlandish products and services were advertised day and night on that station.

One ad remembered by the letter writer was for an autographed photo of Jesus Christ.

This letter was followed by: a response or note by writer Gene Fowler that: “A newspaper columnist from Longview wrote that he sent a dollar to Del Rio for one of those pictures.  Turns out it was a photograph of a teenage boy named Jesus Christ (pronounced Hay-Zoos Krees-tay).”

One of today’s TV versions of yesterday’s radio scams is the ad of Join Michael Lindell,  the “inventor and CEO” of “MyPillow.”

The pillows must be good because they cost $100 a piece.  If you order one at that price from Lindell, however, you get another one exactly free.

Another reason they must be excellent is that, according to Lindell, they are the official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation.  If you are not familiar with that foundation, Google it.  There you will find that the founder is one John Michael Lindell.

That must be just another coincidence of the genre that has become so popular in national politics today.

Then there is the recent spate of TV ads for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Remember them?

Those were the depictions of severely wounded military service members whose wounds and treatments were described by an almost sobbing commentator.

All the aid featured in the ads seemed to be the type of assistance that was available from the Veterans’ Administration.  That prompted a call to the 1-800 number listed in the ads to ask what the Project furnished that was not available from the VA.  The question obviously had not been asked before and there was no answer in the script used by the phone receptionists.

In January, CBS noticed the same  dichotomy and began an investigation into how the charity was spending the millions of dollars of donations.

The investigation found that only 58% of the organization’s funds was used to assist veterans.    The other 42% was spent  on salaries and lavish offsite retreats and parties for employees.

As noted by a former employee, “It was extremely extravagant, dinners and alcohol.” 

The investigative report resulted in a shakeup of the organization’s management, and the tear-jerking ads have disappeared from the airwaves.

Go back a few years more.  Remember those incessant TV ads for Countrywide Home Loans?

The offers for home loans with 0 down payments and no credit checks were in response to the government’s push to move families on up to better housing. 

Anyone watching those ads with just a little logical thought would conclude that the company was due to fail, and fail it did. The cleanup with foreclosures disclosed that, on average, the delinquent mortgagees had remained in the new digs to which they “had moved on up” for 18 months without making payments. 

Those who had moved up with loans that they could not possibly afford had to move back to their old rented apartments or low cost housing.

The ads by the defunct Worldwide Country Home Loans have been replaced by ads from Quicken Loans.  Although Quicken does not go quite as far as Countrywide with 0 down payments and no credit checks, will its nationwide appeal lead to the same cemetery?

So here’s the perspective.

TV addicts are punished by free speech.  They are doomed to watch about five minutes of ads for every 15 minutes of news or regular programming.

There is, of course, the threat of various legal proceedings for false and misleading advertising.  What, though, is false and misleading?

Just be careful where you send your money. You might end up with an autographed copy of Jesus Christ. 


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