Marquee message found to be offensive, not funny

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 31 2014 05:21:00 PM HST

A local business is being asked to take down a message posted on its marque, that some say is offensive and demeaning to women. KITV4's Catherine Cruz has more on the growing controversy.

HONOLULU -

Hawaiian Rent All has been known to get clever with its signage, often poking fun at current events.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's story.

But what they posted last week made members of IMUAlliance cringe.

"It's nice to see a joke over a marque to lighten everyone's day. This is clearly over the line," said Kris Coffield, legislative director for the political action group that is fighting against human sex trafficking.

The recent Capitol controversy over a poorly worded bill involving Honolulu police and  how far they can go to bust a prostitute created a firestorm this month.

But in this case, using a slang word for prostitute was not a laughing matter for the IMUAlliance.

"We think it’s extremely offense for a rental company to suggest that women are objects who can be bought and sold for sex and we are very surprised they didn’t take that into consideration before they put up their sign," said Coffield.

The beauty salon across the street said its clients love the Hawaiian Rent All sign. Some said it's all in how you look at it and they think folks just need to lighten up.

"They've done some cute ones with presidential campaigns. It's clever stuff. I didn’t think any of it has been offensive," said Denniz Perry.

But one parent we talked to had reservations.

“I look at and it and well, it might be a little bit inappropriate because of the topic. As a parent if you have to explain that to a child, it might be a little bit challenging," said the father of two sons.

"That's not terminology that's acceptable in schools. That's not terminology around the dinner table so why is that acceptable for a business to use?" said Coffield.

The company doesn’t think it has anything to apologize for and released this statement:

"Hawaiian Rent All carries lawn and garden equipment. Tools that are available for rent include garden hoes, concrete hoes, mortar hoes and back hoes. Hawaiian Rent All is unaware of any other meanings or uses for these tools."

The company does not plan to take the message down until Thursday when it is scheduled to be changed.

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