'Don't be a Dick' warns Lancashire County Council as controversial new poster targets unmasked shoppers
A new poster campaign launched by Lancashire County Council has caused a stir after it told those refusing to mask up in shops, "Don't be a Dick".
The provocative poster sparked a furious backlash when it appeared on the Council's social media yesterday (Thursday, December 16).
Introducing the poster for the first time, the Council tweeted: "Meet Richard! Richard doesn't want to wear a mask, even though it's the law.
"Richard... thinks he knows best, but as well as being wrong, he's now £100 out of pocket.
"Don't be a Dick. Do your bit & mask up... it's cheaper."
The poster features an exasperated-looking man with unruly hair, wearing headphones and a headband. The image does not include a face covering.
The social media post takes aim at those not complying with the current face mask requirement in shops and on public transport.
It says: "Don't want to wear a mask on public transport and in shops?
"FINE (£100 fine that is)
"For goodness' sake just do your bit - is it really too much to ask?"
But the poster has led to an angry backlash online, with some accusing the Conservative-controlled Council of being 'offensive', 'inappropriate' and 'unprofessional'.
Others accuse the Council of being 'divisive' and 'provocative', and say the poster will only inflame those who are already reluctant to wear face coverings.
What did the Council say in response?
A spokesperson for the council said: "This is about calling out selfish people who just don't want to wear a mask even though it's the law.
"Ignoring this simple measure puts people at risk, not least those who can't wear a mask for medical or other reasons.
"It's part of a wider campaign of positive messages encouraging Lancashire people to work together to combat Covid-19.
"Its aim is to provoke debate and encourage people to mask up, but it's certainly not our intention to offend anyone."
Angry backlash - what some people think about the new Council poster
"What a cheap school yard bully campaign. You can make this point without being vile about someone's name," said one critic.
"Great message to send out, let’s start calling people names if they don’t do what you want. Very professional," added Samantha McIntyre.
"Most pathetic and divisive post I’ve seen in a while and it comes from our very own County Council," said Lancs musician Andrew Gilmour.
"Wow. Calling people a dick? Aren't you meant to be professional as your a council?," asked another. "Obviously Dick is short for Richard. But its the context it was written in."
"Bit inappropriate for a council to post offensive language," observed university student Jasmine Hagan.
Jessica Murray added: "So many people follow your page, including children. Yet Lancashire County Council use inappropriate language and are basically calling us dicks if we don't wear a mask. Its childish and not professional at all."
Even some of those in favour of mask wearing expressed their shock and disappointment with the tone of the Council's message.
"I support mask wearing, but this is a terrible campaign. Who on earth signed off on this?," asked Margaret McLaughlin.
Responding to angry comments on Facebook, the Council sought to defend its approach, saying: "This is about people who don't want to wear a mask (even though it's the law), not those who can't.
"We're calling out people who are selfish. Lots of people who can't wear a mask have a health condition that makes them more vulnerable to Covid.
"If all those who can wear a mask do as they should and wear one, it helps protect more vulnerable people who can't."