When you have to think twice, three times, maybe cuatro times before telling a joke in 2016 America, you know something’s really wrong.

Political correctness, a mental illness I knew well as a radical teenager in the late 1960s and early 1970s, is turning us into a society of nervous, self-conscious, humorless zombies.

That’s what I thought after having a good belly laugh over the latest billboard promoting Hacienda Mexican Restaurants – and then reading about the reaction from some who, well, just can’t take a joke.

The billboard reads: “The best Mexican food this side of the wall.”


In another time and place – maybe a more innocent and free time and place – the sign would have been recognized for its marketing genius. Eight words that get your attention, make you laugh and, maybe, get your mouth watering for some good Mexican food.

That’s the effect it had on me.

And then I read about the reaction.

La Casa de Amistad Executive Director Sam Centellas says his group has protested what they call offensive Hacienda billboards in the past. He says he’s gotten social media requests to talk to the restaurant chain this time, too.

Imagine a guy who makes a living protesting restaurant billboard signs. Well, not exactly. This group actually makes its money proving legal services to illegal aliens. In other words, it is self-interested in seeing that America doesn’t get its border under control.

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Centellas says it’s not the first time Hacienda has offended someone.

And that’s really the insanity of the political correctness plague. People are just too easily offended. Worse yet, you can make yourself a very good living by being in a constant state of being agitated and offended.

I like what the executive vice president for the restaurant chain had to say.

“We don’t intend to upset anybody,” said Jeff Leslie. “But, we do use humor. When you use humor, there’s going to be some groups that are particularly sensitive to certain things.”

I remember when most Americans understood that.

But then there are the folks like Centellas: “There’s a difference between funny and being offensive. I think they really need to think about how can you just be a little more fun without having to be degrading of demeaning.”

Centellas says this issue is about more than just offensive advertising. He says service industries have a higher percentage of Latino workers than other employers.

“What I’d love to hear is how do their employees feel and how are they treated in a culture that regularly puts out pretty offensive advertising related to the Latino culture?” says Centellas.

For his part, Leslie says he’s happy to have a dialogue: “Well, I welcome the conversation and any that would like to contact me, I’d love to talk to them about it. We try to stay topical when we can. So the board is really about passion for our food. It’s about our core guests who really know and believe that our food is really terrific, and that’s what we’re communicating with this board.”

At the end of the day, what’s wrong with a good laugh? Whether you like the idea of Donald Trump’s big border wall or not, tell me that billboard is not funny. And if you’re one of the folks who doesn’t laugh, what’s the big deal? Was anyone hurt by the billboard? Was it a successful billboard? Did it bring more customers into the restaurants? If many of the workers in those establishments are Hispanic, isn’t that good for them, too?

Get a grip, people. If you’re offended by a billboard like this, maybe you’ve just got too much time on your hands and not enough real challenges in your life.

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