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Monday, February 23, 2009

No fare: Atheist bus ads get booted from buses

The atheist bus campaign, a campaign to post atheist advertising on public transit, has hit a snare in the cities of Halifax, Vancouver and Ottawa. While several cities in Canada, including Toronto, have happily displayed the advertisements, the public transit authorities in Halifax, Vancouver, and Ottawa have refused to permit them on their buses. It might cause offense, you see.

The adverts, which read "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," have caused some offense, but they've also sparked a public discussion about ethics and public policy. And the hypocritical nature of the selective prohibition by public transit bureaucrats has raised our ire here at the Western Standard (Shotgun blogger and Catholic Terry O'Neill posted about the Vancouver decision here). If religious messages are permitted on public property like buses, then so, too, should these atheist bus ads be permitted as well.

We asked Justin Trottier, executive director of the Centre for Inquiry Ontario, to put together a piece for us on the atheist bus ads and freedom of expression. Trottier sent us a piece entitled "No fare: Atheist bus ads get booted off the bus."

Here are a few excerpts:

Atheists are... naturally quite uncompromising defenders of free expression. It is our hope that as champions for everyone’s right to this fundamental freedom, atheists will find common ground with other defenders of speech and expression and enter the mainstream. This includes championing free speech against city transit policies that would keep any statement that is religious or ideological in nature off transit property.

Freedom of speech was a key issue for our community long before this campaign, which itself was launched for other goals, like atheist and humanist acceptance and mobilization. The Centre for Inquiry’s Campaign for Free Expression was a response to many developments local, national and international that point to free speech as a defining issue at this time.

Read the rest here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on February 23, 2009 in Freedom of expression | Permalink

Comments

I guess what I find most amusing about this, is that Christians in this country are always mocking queers, feminists, Muslims, etc. for being offended for various reasons. Christian social conservatives are quick to trumpet free speech up until some atheist shows up and buys and ad, and then they draw a line.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-02-23 12:19:50 PM


Denying the atheist the right to publicize a position would be the same as GM denying Ford or any other car maker the right to advertise product. The prospective ad brought a smile to my face and I am a Christian. Laighten up folks and get a sense of humour. There is nothing offensive about the ad.

Posted by: DML | 2009-02-23 12:46:09 PM


It all depends on policy as stated. If the policy is not to accept any advertisements of a certain type, such as religious, and the policy is applied equally, no one has justification to complain. If, on the other hand, the policy is being selectively applied, I agree it is wrong.

I am not a Christian of any type, but neither do I get all hot and bothered about Christians and their views like some. The same applies to the advertisement. I do not agree with its message but at the same time I do not feel threatened by it. Frankly I rather find the whole thing a tempest in a tea pot.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-02-23 1:36:20 PM


"There's probably no Global Warming. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,"

There, fixed it.

Posted by: foobert | 2009-02-23 1:39:41 PM


I don't understand the issue. The bus campaign was done for this very reason, to increse publicity. Wether they get the coverage through the media or through their advertising its the same result.

Posted by: Sam T. | 2009-02-23 2:03:46 PM


The atheists have the right to put their ad up(as stupid as it is) if the buses are publicly owned. If the buses are owned by a private company then the decision should be left to the company's owners. God bless the atheists! They know not what they do! Fortunately, I am sure the man upstairs will let them in once they apologize to him. Personally, I'm always amazed by the number of supposed non-believers who at the end say a prayer, ask for a rabbi or minister, or ask their family to pray for them! Questioning your non-faith, eh?

Posted by: David | 2009-02-23 3:04:50 PM


Mike Brock: "...is that Christians in this country are always mocking queers,"

Oh really?

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-23 3:17:52 PM


Sam,

You describe a perfect catch-22. They are getting publicity, which is what they want, so they should not complain about their ads being refused. But if they did not complain about their ads being refused, they would be getting no publicity at all, and thus have something to object to. So the only way to get publicity (given the censorship of thier ad) is to complain that they are being denied publicity.


David,

"I am sure the man upstairs will let them in once they apologize to him"

Apologize? For what? Not believing that he exists? I am reminded of the recent A-Rod scandal. A-Rod claimed that a cousin of his injected him. Many reporters doubted the existence of such a cousin. But since then, the cousin has been named and seen by the press. Now I can see why A-Rod might want an apology for being disbelieved (although his credibility is not the best), but it would make no sense at all to apologize to Yuri Sucart for believing he did not exist. That's just weird.

I'm also reminded of the Watergate scandal. Some people thought Woodward and Bernstein made up "Deep Throat" and that he never really existed. When it was revealed not only that he existed, but who he was, I could, again, see why Woodward and Bernstein might want an apology from doubters and why doubters might feel they owe those two people an apology, but it seems really odd to think that W. Mark Felt was owed any apologies.

So if your god expects non-believers to apologize for disbelieving in his existence, then he is not really worthy of reverence. A god worth admiring would just smile and say "Surprise!" to the atheist as he is welcomed at the pearly gates. Your god sounds like a bit of a dick.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-02-23 3:35:34 PM


With their complaints about the atheist bus ads, Christians are determined to prove what intolerant cowards they are. Good job, Christians!

Posted by: Pluto Animus | 2009-02-23 5:17:11 PM


David referred to the bus ads as "stupid". So, David, you think that adults believing a magical, invisible friend is "intelligent"?
Before you post a comment again, David, you might want to remove your head from your anus first.

Posted by: Pluto Animus | 2009-02-23 5:21:48 PM


What makes you guys think it was Christians who got the ads pulled? When's the last time any of you remember Christians accomplishing something like this? They got pulled because they were starting to catch the attention of muslim groups.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-23 5:35:52 PM


dp: Do the math, you moron.
Canada is a majority-Christian country. The boards that decided to not permit these ads are also majority-Christian. Members of these boards have defended their decision based on their own feelings of being offended.
You have absolutely no evidence that Muslim groups are responsible for the repression of the atheist message, but you desperately want to blame them for what your fellow Christians have wrought. How pathetic.
(And anyway, even if "muslim [sic] groups" noticed the ads, how did that translate into official action against them being posted on buses? Were there threats or protests? If so, then why are their no media reports of them? Next time, try reason instead of superstition and bigotry; it's a more reliable way of getting to the truth.)

Posted by: Pluto Animus | 2009-02-23 6:00:34 PM


dp: Do the math, you moron.
Canada is a majority-Christian country. The boards that decided to not permit these ads are also majority-Christian. Members of these boards have defended their decision based on their own feelings of being offended.
You have absolutely no evidence that Muslim groups are responsible for the repression of the atheist message, but you desperately want to blame them for what your fellow Christians have wrought. How pathetic.
(And anyway, even if "muslim [sic] groups" noticed the ads, how did that translate into official action against them being posted on buses? Were there threats or protests? If so, then why are their no media reports of them? Next time, try reason instead of superstition and bigotry; it's a more reliable way of getting to the truth.)

Posted by: Pluto Animus | 2009-02-23 6:00:35 PM


"..Canada- One nation under no God- enjoy yourself..drink Coca Cola..."

ya and its ok to pee in public swimming pools because there is no God to see you do it--

Posted by: 419 | 2009-02-23 6:11:28 PM


Jesus, Pluto, one scolding was enough.

What makes you think I'm a Christian, anyway? You athiest nutjobs are more annoying than Jerry Falwell. In fact, you athiests have a lot in common with religious fanatics. You're both blinded by your beliefs.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-23 6:47:14 PM


dp, you hit the nail on the head when you said the fanatical atheists have much in common with religious zealots. In my opinion one must be extremely insecure to get so worked up.
All the frothing at the mouth over those big bad Christians confirms they know nothing whatsoever. Let them live in a Muslim country, then they would have something about which to complain.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-02-23 7:03:02 PM


Alain- That would certainly make them wish they were back among the big bad Christians alright.

I've lived a very secure and priviledged life surrounded by Christians. No one has ever tried to force me into believing anything.

Posted by: dp | 2009-02-23 8:31:22 PM


Fact Check,

One important difference might be the _kind_ of attention the atheists in this case are getting. It's one thing to "get your message out." It's another to both get the message out, and also pick up the status of a persecuted minority.

The latter is quite a valuable commodity, especially in Canada.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-02-23 8:53:40 PM


why don't you athiests attack allah, buddah,zeus,and other deities? you seem to think it's open season on god and the son of god of christians.

Posted by: DOUG | 2009-02-23 11:23:54 PM


Actually, David, you're wrong. Just because a bus is publicly owned doesn't oblige its operators to put up any sick or twisted presentation some taxpayer dreams up. Generally only messages deemed appropriate for a family audience are allowed; kids ride buses too. This is why you're unlikely to see a poster of satyrs rubbing their bodies with pig poop and fornicating like wild monkeys with semen spewing from their ears like lawn sprinklers. Or any other overtly controversial topic, for that matter.

If people are offended enough they won't take the bus, and the whole business model of public transit is to get people to take the bus. While I personally think the whole global warming thing is insanely overblown, those who push transit for that reason also have reason to be concerned with offending the membership. So do your bit for the environment and stick to sandwich boards.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-23 11:27:21 PM


Actually, Pluto, most of the people on public boards today are baby boomer secular humanists, who could care less about religious ramifications while they take their decades-long party of protest, pot, and pussy into the nursing home.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-23 11:30:53 PM


The problem, Doug, is that "progressives" have a hard-wired self-image problem ("self-esteem" in their parlance), and a pathological need to side with the underdog. Whether the underdog is a worthy contestant is irrelevant. All that matters to them is that the underdog is not number one, and so deserves greater respect and accommodation than the incumbent patriarchal majority plutocracy. Why else do you think they side with suicide bombers over Israel?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-24 6:59:08 AM


Plato Anus: "Canada is a majority-Christian country"

...Oh really? You and Bruce must still think we're in the '50's here in Canada.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-24 9:04:29 AM


Mike Brock: here's a hug. :)

But this caught my eye later in the comments:

"This is why you're unlikely to see a poster of satyrs rubbing their bodies with pig poop and fornicating like wild monkeys with semen spewing from their ears like lawn sprinklers."

That is one diseased mind. Even Freud would be impressed.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2009-02-24 9:21:28 AM


That is one diseased mind. Even Freud would be impressed. - I get this from a demographic that supports the live dismemberment of the unborn. Only people wracked by pathological narcissism and self-deception could convince themselves that tasteless but harmless smut is morally worse than suctioning out inconvenient unborn one limb at a time. But that's contemporary liberalism for you.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-24 9:50:18 AM


...what the leftist airheads don't conceive (excuse the reference) is the masses of unborn they are brutally killing could be future leaders for their cause one day.

Talk about a paradox.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-24 11:15:42 AM


The only logical outcome from these actions is the complete secularization of public property, a form of whitewashing the evolution of Western civilization. That will make the Islamists happy because anyone who morally equates Christians with Muslims is equating a reformed religion with something strait out of the eighth century. When demography allows it, you will not only see exclusive Islam on public display, you will be forced to participate.

Atheists who feel they must sell their message with actions such as these adds remind me of Gays who embarras the gay community with disgusting public displays like Gay Pride parades. It's a form of needless pissing on someone's parade.

Besides, even atheists like me enjoy Christmas.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-02-24 11:38:11 AM


...what the leftist airheads don't conceive (excuse the reference) is the masses of unborn they are brutally killing could be future leaders for their cause one day.

Not to mention all those little babies left unconceived because of the rhythm method. The vatican has a lot to answer for.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2009-02-24 12:09:51 PM


what the leftist airheads don't conceive (excuse the reference) is the masses of unborn they are brutally killing could be future leaders for their cause one day.

This is absolutely one of my favourite argument fallacies: argumentum ad consequentiam. It is also, more broadly, an appeal to emotion.

The problem is, of course, that even as an appeal to consequence, it ignores the fact that not only could one of those aborted fetuses be future leaders, they could also be future Stalins, Hitlers, Maos, Dahmers, etc.

In fact, given how few people--as a proportion of the society-become "leaders" and one might argue that of those, only a few are good... the proposition here is completely moot.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-02-24 12:37:25 PM


Not to mention all those little babies left unconceived because of the rhythm method. The vatican has a lot to answer for. - And how, exactly, do you murder that which was never living to start with? Science as well as Church doctrine teaches us that life begins at the moment of conception, not before.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-24 12:42:09 PM


"...anyone who morally equates Christians with Muslims is equating a reformed religion with something strait out of the eighth century."

Actually, the medieval Arabic traditions associated with Islam—the burqa, the hijab, the tribal mentality—are not part of Islam. They are simply medieval Arabic traditions (and actually predate Islam). People conflate the two because Arabs are the most visible practitioners of Islam, even though not one in five Muslims in the world today is of Arabic descent.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-24 12:52:04 PM


Oh, what a quandary the world is for those perfect ones like Mike.

Can you imagine? This is a world filled with imperfect human beings.

While some may become Plato or Aristotle, most will become Stalins of Pol Pot wannabes. After all, it's all within the range of human possibility.

That's a consequence of that awful religious concept that every human being has been given the gift of free will.

Yet the very examples of the atheists who made the 20th century the bloodiest in human history proves one thing.

Since good and evil are equally legitimate, then is it any wonder that instead to struggling to attain inner peace, the atheist with no moral code who is the final arbiter of what's good for him acts to eliminate those who disagree with him?

It must suck to be alive with all that anger that festers within as a result of rejecting a philosophy based on love.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-02-24 1:17:27 PM


Yet the very examples of the atheists who made the 20th century the bloodiest in human history proves one thing.

I'm glad you brought this up. Stalin and Mao were both definitely atheists, but they shared something in common with religious people: they held collective rights above that of individual rights.

I like when Christians like to take credit for liberty, such as the US Bill of Rights and constitution.

Any student of history will realize that the US founding fathers were--for the most part--not Christian at all. They were deists. At least one of the founding fathers who was not a Deist (Adams) rejected the divinity of Christ.

Since good and evil are equally legitimate

This is one of those stupid fucking statements that makes it impossible to have an intelligent conversation with theists. You construct these false assertions and unqualified statements.

Show me an atheist who deemed good and evil as equally legitimate? What does that even mean?

That you might believe that atheists don't have morality, worship satan, are all socialists, support indiscriminate violence, etc. is manifest of your lack of intellect, not their lack of morality.

Libertarianism is highly popular among atheists. Moreso than socialism I would say, these days. I meet far more people who believe in god and call themselves socialists than I meet libertarians.

Tony Blair believed in God, and oversaw the transition of the UK into a full-fledged police state.

Ann Coulter believes in God, and apparently wants to bomb the entire Middle East into oblivion (save Israel), killing all who occupy it's soil.

Hugo Chavez, South America's newest communist revolutionary is a devout Roman Catholic.

Save me your fucking bullshit attempts to connect the dots between atheism and evil. You know what's evil? Standing outside abortion clinics and calling women murderers.

You know what else is evil? Telling homosexuals they face eternal damnation for a sexual preference that is no fault of their own.

What else? Oh, making women feel ashamed about their bodies and assailing them for doing something completely fucking natural, like breast feeding in a public place.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-02-24 3:09:32 PM


There is a God...so God help these poor people.

Posted by: A believer. | 2009-02-24 3:40:09 PM


...more like, I know there is Intelligent Life out there somewhere in the universe.

Proof is they haven't tried contacting us.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-24 7:35:54 PM


"That you might believe that atheists don't have morality, worship satan..."

Mike, do you know what an oxymoron is?

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-24 7:37:32 PM


...in case the above posting was lost on you, atheists don't believe in Satan too correct?

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-24 7:38:19 PM


So much outrage, Mike. It's going to eat you up if you don't do something about it, and no, spreading the crap around doesn't count. Now then:

1. There is no denying that our cultural and legal traditions were strongly influenced by their Judeo-Christian origins. Not all atheists are mass murderers, but most of recent history's bloodiest mass murderers have been atheists.

2. Deism (the belief that an all-powerful God created the Universe and then abandoned it) was the predominant belief system among the European and American upper classes in the 18th century. Like most fads, it died out. The Church did not. Moreover, our modern concept of liberty comes largely from English tradition and common law, starting with the Magna Carta, which was drafted by Catholics and signed by a Catholic.

3. Atheists don't bother equating good and evil and the endless debate such discussion incur; rather, they tend to deny the existence of good and particularly evil at all. Humanity is their god, their own selves above all.

4. No, not all atheists are immoral. But I have noticed that their belief that one brief lifetime is all they have tends to make them a rather angst-filled and sybaritic lot.

5. Your assertion that libertarians tend toward atheism, if true, would explain their obsession with legalizing drugs. "After all, it's my body!"

6., 7. Neither of these people has murdered people by the millions. If this is the best you can offer in contrast to Papa Stalin, Chairman Mao, and der Führer, please consider your surrender accepted.

8. Anyone who knows Glen Clark can tell you socialist Catholics are nothing new. And you have to look pretty hard to find a Latin American leader who isn't Catholic, at least on the surface.

9. How is the calling of women who procure abortions murderers amount to evil? It's factually true, if not legally so. They're hiring a person to kill living organism that is human.

10. Preferences are always the choice of the individual. Preferences are a matter of taste, and taste can be altered. Such change is at the heart of every AA and detox program. Granted it does take work, as well as a willingness to accept that some tastes are better than others.

11. Taking a crap on someone's car in a public place would also be a completely natural act; people crap more times than they'll ever breast-feed, and you can join every other species who already dumps their loads in Nature's outhouse. Oh, and you can't make anyone feel anything; how they respond emotionally to adversity is up to them, not you.

Like I said, Mike, your bitterness is showing. It makes for lousy arguments. You raise some cogent points, but cherry-pick excessively, and your tireless injection of bile and piss into the debate completely undermines a totally unsuccessful effort to define evil on your terms. No one cares about your feelings. No one. Get used to it.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-24 8:31:42 PM


...well I feel for Mike. Time for a group hug!

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-02-25 5:54:04 PM


Shane: "If this is the best you can offer in contrast to Papa Stalin, Chairman Mao, and der Führer, please consider your surrender accepted."

Der Fuhrer was a christian you prat!

Posted by: joe agnost | 2009-03-10 12:01:40 PM


Shane: "I get this from a demographic that supports the live dismemberment of the unborn. Only people wracked by pathological narcissism and self-deception could convince themselves that tasteless but harmless smut is morally worse than suctioning out inconvenient unborn one limb at a time."

Nobody (except you) has said anything about what is "morally worse". Pointing out what a sick mind you must have to come up with such a disgusting example of "smut" says NOTHING about how one feels about abortion.

Nice deflection attempt though - you sick [email protected]!

Posted by: joe agnost | 2009-03-10 12:04:57 PM


Der Fuhrer was a christian you prat!

First, "Christian" is a proper noun and should be capitalized.

Second, O font of all things historical, Hitler's mother may have been a Christian, and he may have been baptized as a Christian (photos, anyone?) but as an adult he rejected Christianity:

National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew.


Nobody (except you) has said anything about what is "morally worse". Pointing out what a sick mind you must have to come up with such a disgusting example of "smut" says NOTHING about how one feels about abortion.

That's because your brand of "progressive" has no moral base from which to take a comparison. If it feels good, you do it, and cannot understand why others would care. As for "disgusting smut," I never look at hardcore pornography; it grosses me out. You want to talk about disgusting...

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-10 12:35:21 PM


"First, 'Christian' is a proper noun and should be capitalized."

Thanks for the english lesson (you pompous ass).

I like to cause offense - you won't see me capitalize god either... deal with it.

"Hitler's mother may have been a Christian..."

OK genius - why was the nazi credo "gott mit uns" (god with us)? Because Hitler was an atheist heathen?? Unlikely...

"I never look at hardcore pornography..."

Sure you don't.... you just write about it:

Shane: "satyrs rubbing their bodies with pig poop and fornicating like wild monkeys with semen spewing from their ears like lawn sprinklers."

Naw...... you're normal - just keep telling yourself that.

Posted by: joe agnost | 2009-03-10 12:49:20 PM



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