KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 4 (UPI) — Officials with the University of Tennessee bookstore got rid of novelty candies mocking President Barack Obama after a state congressman found them offensive.
David Kent, director of the bookstore, said the $2.99 mints, which bear the president’s image and the words, “This is change? Disappointmints,” were pulled from the shelves after he had a conversation with Rep. Joe Armstrong, D- Knoxville, the Knoxville News reported Thursday.
Kent said the bookstore carried similar products mocking President George W. Bush during his administration.
“We’ve never had any complaints before and we’ve carried them for years,” Kent said. “But someone saw it and they were offended by it, brought it to the attention of a state representative, and I said, ‘No problem, we’ll remove them.'”
Armstrong said the problem was in having products that aren’t “viewpoint neutral” for sale at a state institution.
“When you operate on state and federal dollars, you ought to be sensitive to those type of politically specific products,” Armstrong said. “If it was a private entity or corporation or store, (that’s different), but this is a state university. We certainly don’t want in any way to put the university in a bad light by having those political (products), particularly aimed at defaming the president.”