Wednesday, March 11, 2009

There probably is no free speech...so start worrying.

As if this is still in the news. This silly ban of atheist ads on OC Transpo buses. The ads read "there probably is no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life." That's it. That's all they say. First, they get turned down by the folks at OC Transpo who don't want anything "incendiary" to appear on their buses. Which is, of course, ludicrous. Then city council, which is in itself ludicrous, gets in on the fun. Some say the ban should be overturned, on the grounds of ludicrousness. Others say the ban is appropriate, because they too are ludicrous. And now the paper is reporting that this ban will likely be overturned, because it contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Of course it does. To believe otherwise is...well...ludicrous.

Here is the policy, in a nutshell: Any religious advertising which promotes a certain ideology, which in the opinion of the city might be deemed prejudicial to other religious groups or offensive to the users of the transit system is not to be permitted. OK. So what does that mean exactly? Well, according to the city's transit committee, it means that the four complaints they received were enough to ban these signs outright. Four complaints. From people who were offended. Not by the signs themselves, because they were never seen, but by the idea of the signs. And they go ahead and make sure that the signs will never be seen by anyone, so that no one can possibly be offended.

Except for me. And several others like me. I am offended. I will be offended every time I step onto a city bus and see ads for fattening snack cakes and environmentally-unfriendly meat products and Catholocism and Judaism and just about everything else, but I don't get to see these atheist ads. Frankly, I have seen dozens, even hundreds of religious ads around town. I would consider myself to be an atheist, but I have not been offended. Before now, that is. I just think, "oh, there go those God people" and move on. Now, however, I will be very angry when I see these things. And I will write letters of complaint. Come to think of it, I also dislike Eat-More bars. And should I see them advertised anywhere, I will complain about that as well. And I've never really been a fan of those Body Break TV segments...

Hopefully, this all becomes a moot point after it is pointed out to the people who declined to take the ad money from these atheists that they are being ludicrous, and that the only people who could possibly be actually offended by this ad are religious zealots who deserve to be offended, as often as possible, by everything from Spongebob to The Golden Compass. There is a protest scheduled for this morning at City Hall, where this atheist group of "humanists" or whatever they're calling themselves is planning to convene peacefully. Which is nice, but of course pointless. This is something that will have to be overturned in a court, one which exists to protect us from the nutjobs, both of the religious and the non-religious ilk. It's just a shame it had to go this far. The fact that this has to be discussed by lawyers and judges and government at all is...well...ludicrous.

2 comments:

  1. I'm with you, Eric. There is no reason not to show these ads. I'm an atheist but I acknowledge that the existence of a god is impossible to prove or disprove, meaning it's a matter of personal faith. Scientific research has shown that there probably is no god, but nobody really knows. If the zealots out there want to run ads reading 'There is a God. Now start worrying about pleasing Him so you can get into Heaven', I will support their cause too.

    In fact, I hope that this triggers a battle of bus ads for various faiths. That would be awesome to see.

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  2. I certainly hope so...think of the revenue that would generate for our poor, cash-strapped OC Transpo! They would be dumb NOT to do this. Oh wait...

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