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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Local businesses use Taser jokes to their advantage

Three days after Andrew Meyer was Tasered by university police, a sign went up in Gator Dawgs.

"Don't let your money get Tasered," it read.

Otis Britt, who owns Gator Dawgs, made the sign.

"People have laughed at it, but no one has said it's inappropriate," he said.

The store isn't the only business that's been cracking jokes about Tasers.

Britt has since taken the sign down and put up a new one: "Taser your taste buds with a spicy chicken sandwich."

He said he's just making fun of the incident and that he thought it wasn't really that big of a deal.

Over the weekend radio station 100.5 The Buzz temporarily changed its name to 100.5 The Taser, asking listeners to call in for prizes when they heard a Taser sound effect.

Radio station representative Candy Rupp wrote in an e-mail that no one seemed offended at the gimmick.

"We were not trying to take a stand or offer an opinion," Rupp wrote. "We were just trying to lighten up the mood a bit."

Krissy Abdullah, a journalism junior, created a nearly 6,000-member Facebook group supporting Andrew Meyer called "Don't Taser Me, Bro." She said she does not think Taser advertisements are appropriate.

"I think it's pretty disgusting, actually," she said.

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Abdullah said she doesn't appreciate jokes she has heard from teachers and other students about what she said is a serious situation.

"In a sense it's nice that people are at least talking about it, acknowledging it," she said, "but they're trying to make a serious situation into something lighthearted."

Jon D. Morris, an advertising professor at UF, said that using advertising like this is a risk.

"There are times when you can take bad things and people think they're hysterical," he said. For example, he said, Steven Colbert can make fun of the news and be funny.

But he said companies who use political events and tragedies to advertise have to tread a fine line.

"I think it's in bad taste, but beyond that, it could be successful," he said. "People could laugh at it."

Bigger companies can often benefit from controversial publicity, he said, but the individuals who come up with the ads might not. They often get publicly fired.

Britt said he doesn't have plans to take down his Taser sign anytime soon.

"Oh, I'm going to run it into the ground," he said.

He said he thinks police probably didn't need to Taser Meyer, but some protesters got out of hand.

"I guess I'm just kind of making fun of it now," he said.

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