On parade float, chamber within rights

December 13, 2013 

In hindsight, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce might have been wrong to ban DNA Bail Bonds from its Christmas parade, held yesterday on Main Street. Certainly, the chamber has neither enjoyed nor benefited from the publicity that began with this newspaper and spread rapidly among media outlets across the state.

It’s true that DNA’s float – with young girls in prison jumpsuits and oversized handcuffs – had nothing to do with Christmas. Then again, a parade put on by a pro-business group like the chamber should probably cut businesses some parade-float slack. A parade, after all, is as much about business promotion as it is entertainment, at least in small towns.

Certainly, DNA’s float was over the top, with toilet paper trailing from a toilet in a mock jail cell. But take away the toilet and that paper trail, and the float, while having nothing to do with the meaning of the season, was hardly offensive.

DNA, meanwhile, has gotten more attention from its banishment than it would have garnered from a parade float in Clayton, which, while growing, is still a small town. DNA, based in Smithfield, paid $145 to enter the parade. It got that money back plus the equivalent of thousands more, we suspect, in free advertising.

That’s a win for DNA and a public-relations loss for the chamber.

But no one should be too harsh on the chamber. No matter what one thinks of the chamber’s decision to banish DNA from the parade, the chamber was within its rights to do so. It also deserves credit for offering a compromise that the owners of DNA rejected.

The chamber is a private organization, and as such, it is free to associate with whomever it wants. By the same token, it is free to shut the door on whomever it wants, including a bail-bonds business and its over-the-top parade float.

The federal mandate to purchase health insurance notwithstanding, this is still a free country. In bouncing DNA bail bonds from its parade, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce exercised its freedom, and we should all respect that, no matter our views on Christmas floats.

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