A bizarre new ad blasting homosexuality and using all kinds of weird religious language has been making the rounds in Minnesota's regional newspapers over the past few weeks.
The ad, flagged by the Minnesota news site The Column, ran in print earlier this month and online last week. From the mysterious organization "Concern for Children," the ad is strange mostly for the hyper-religious language, used to scare parents about the "dangers of homosexuality," we guess? (Though the ship seems to have sailed on that one)
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"PARENTS," the ad screams to the masses. "ARE YOUTH IN AMERICA BEING INDOCTRINATED?...ARE TEENAGERS AWARE THAT SODOMY IS DANGEROUS?"
There's a whole lot more, too. Here's the print version of the ad in question, from the October 12 edition, in full form (The Column managed to find the online version, too):
(You can click on the picture to make it bigger)
Strange, right? There doesn't seem to be any impetus for the ad. No pressing issues, no ballot amendments, nothing.
But the weird part isn't just that the ad ran. It's that it's nearly impossible to find any information about who the "Concern for Children" group actually is. The only identification in the ad is an address: Box 115, 200 Margaret Street, Almont, N.D. Search online for any references to the address or organization, though? Nothing. The mystery flagged our curiosity and we started searching around.
MinnPost's Beth Hawkins did a wonderful job of looking into the group when it started flooding newspaper pages with ads back in 2012. Unfortunately, she was left without many answers, just a few bits and pieces.
So we gave it a go. We pored through newspaper records, finding ads in Minnesota, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, even Maine. We nearly gave up, but we did find one clue.
It's in small print, just a few lines in an ad in Maryland's Cumberland New Times from October 2012.
The ad itself actually doesn't make any sense, as it encourages "traditional" (i.e. heterosexual) marriage, yet tells voters to vote "YES" to a ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage. We assume someone probably misinterpreted the law somewhere down the line. Or just needs an editor.
The most important part of the ad, though, comes in the last two lines. It features a name: Janet Hanson, who's identified as the chair of Concern for Children. It's the only time when a real name has actually been put forward. Unfortunately, that's all we had. So we searched through all the Janet Hansons in North Dakota and even called one, but no replies yet.
So, if you're out there, Janet Hanson, give us a call. We'd love to hear why you're putting random ads in our newspapers.