Signage outside a Nashville gas station drew mixed reactions from customers over the weekend, including from some who reportedly accused the establishment of hate speech.
Nashville’s WSMV News on Sunday reported that a Shell station was turning heads as a result of a couple of different digital messages that had been programed to appear on signage beneath the price of gas.
“Closed on Sundays so we can prep for the crusade,” read one of the slogans that appeared on the sign. “Seven years of Obama and we can’t figure out which restroom to use,” read another.
Gas station customer Gregory Crownover told the local NBC News affiliate that he interpreted the signage as meaning Shell is “tolerant of these kinds of messages.”
“The crusade was Christians fighting against Muslims for the Holy Land. It is basically implying that violence is coming towards Muslims,” the customer said.
The other slogan — an apparent reference to the ongoing national debate regarding public restroom access for transgender persons — seemed intolerant towards the LGBT community, Mr. Crownover added.
“This is in Davidson County and is a place of many cultures and different people this doesn’t reflect well at all for the city or the image it’s trying to display,” he told WSMV.
“They are welcome to say whatever they want to say, but just don’t be a Shell station anymore, or Shell needs to say they approve of these things being placed under their logo.”
According to others who spoke with the station, however, Shell’s management was simply exercise its First Amendment right.
“The way I see it is if you don’t agree with it, don’t read it,” customer Beau Butcher said to the station.
“It is freedom of speech, but sometimes freedom of speech goes too far because morals have been taken out of it. Morals have been taken out of a lot of things,” he added.
The Shell station with the controversial signage is privately owned, the station added, and attempts to reach its owner for comment ahead of Sunday’s broadcast were unsuccessful; media representatives for the Houston-based gas company told WSMV they would be drafting a formal response.