Pharyngula

Bold atheists have been buying ad space on buses in London and Washington DC—it’s been a successful tactic for raising the profile of godless groups, and has also been somewhat controversial. The Atheist Foundation of Australia sought to emulate those successes, and met an obstacle: the ad company simply refused to allow them to buy ad space, without giving a reason, and you can tell it was simply religious bigotry behind the decision.

It’s not as if they were trying to put up abusive or profane messages. Here are some of the slogans they suggested.

We started off with “Atheism – because there is no credible evidence”, we put that to the bus companies, they didn’t like that and they said the wording wasn’t to their acceptance. And then we changed that to “Celebrate reason” and thought we’d make it a bit comical “Sleep in on Sunday mornings”, but they refused that also.

This refusal is coming from the same company, APN Outdoor, that previously ran Bible verses on buses — it’s clearly simple bias that is behind their decision. I hope someone is considering legal action, since this kind of asymmetry that closes channels of communication to one side of a public issue means the ad company is arbitrarily imposing their faith-based beliefs on others.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    November 26, 2008

    I guess the only thing to do is go with a God-based theme until atheistic themes are allowed. Till then, how about these?

    God did it. Now you know who to blame.

    God controls everything. What a cock up.

    God. Only as good as he wants to be.

    God is my shepherd. Baa.

    Kneel when you pray to God. Say, while you’re down there…

  2. #2 Fred Mounts
    November 26, 2008

    Hm. I’ve been reading quite a few compelling arguments from the comments to this blog that bigotry can’t be applied to religion, because it’s something that can be chosen. I’m confused at this point, as Dr. Myers refers to religious bigotry.

    Someone help me out! I want to make sure that I have my ducks in a logical row when I’m arguing with people. The answer determines whether I’m a bigot or not :o)

    Fred

  3. #3 Brian
    November 26, 2008

    I am afraid I disagree with you on this one regarding legal action.

    While I have a right to free speech I don’t have the right to expect, or compel, others to assist me in exercising my free speech rights.

    In this case the ad company has freedom of speech just as I do and if it does not wish to promote a certain viewpoint I believe it is within its rights to do so.

  4. #4 Michelle
    November 26, 2008

    @Zeno #1: “God is my shepherd. Baa.” < - That would be my favorite. :D

    Ah man. Well look, they’re a company. You can’t force them to do something that does not work with their philosophy.

  5. #5 LordJiro
    November 26, 2008

    I don’t know much about advertising laws, particularly in Australia, but I’m fairly sure that, unfortunately, the ad company is allowed to accept or reject whoever it pleases, so I don’t think there’s any grounds for a lawsuit. May have to settle for a good ol’ fashioned boycott.

  6. #6 Ryan
    November 26, 2008

    Enter St. Peter and APN Outdoor employee.

    Employee: So, do I get into Heaven?

    St. Peter: Almost!

    Employee: Almost?

    St. Peter: You did everything right except that one time
    you let the atheists rent out ad space. That’s a big no, no.

    Employee: Goddammit!

    St. Peter: Well, you’re really not getting in now.

    And, scene.

  7. #7 Shane
    November 26, 2008

    I have to side with the advertising company on this one. Imagine if you owned the company and were legally obligated to run ads for scientology. I’m happy to support a boycott though! Too bad I don’t live in Australia.

  8. #8 Faouloki
    November 26, 2008

    I may be wrong, but isn’t the Atheist Bus Campaign in the UK being hindered by Stagecoach buses who refuse to run the ad, due to their owner being Christian?

  9. #9 chuckbert
    November 26, 2008

    Australians (I live there but am not one yet!) are quite complacent about the role religion has in public life.
    It doesn’t surprise me that there is resistance from a company here.

  10. #10 david
    November 26, 2008

    chuckbert, the absence of concern for religion in the everyday experience of Australians is just what shocks be so much that a company would refuse the business!

  11. #11 Geoff Rogers
    November 26, 2008

    Yay, PZ put something I pointed him to on his blog!

    I’ve come over all funny…

    For those interested, an interview with the spokesman for AFA is available on this site: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/religionreport/default.htm

    At the moment, and for the coming week, the top link will take you to the interview (and the rather crappy interview with a christian apologeticist which immediately follows).

  12. #12 Masks of Eris
    November 26, 2008

    Ah, thinking up possible bus-slogans is fun.

    “By Christian dogma, Anne Frank is burning in Hell. Jesus is Love!”

    “Stalin didn’t put anyone in the gulag. It was their own pride that did it. God doesn’t put anyone in Hell either.”

    “God loves the world — witness earthquakes, tsunamis, parasites, famine, slavery and rape.”

    “All religions share one common feature — namely, that every other religion is false and wicked. (They’re all right, by the way.)”

    “Jesus is dead. Mohammed is dead. The only people that can help you are those around you.”

    “Your God, your business. Just keep your children out of it.”

    “Atheism: The idea that this world is all we have, and we ought to love it.”

  13. #13 Ced
    November 26, 2008

    Just on a sidenote, in October a public transport company in St. Gallen, Switzerland refused to put up posters by the Freethinker’s Association Switzerland (http://freidenker.ch/). The article in the Tagblatt (http://www.tagblatt.ch/aktuell/st.gallen/st.gallen/art536,976553) cites the city council: “There are more important things than to advertise with godlessness in buses.”
    The posters announced the installation of a website for atheists to announce and testify their non-belief (http://www.konfessionsfrei.ch/ “Life without dogma”).

  14. #14 Akheloios
    November 26, 2008

    You can’t offer services to one section of society whilst refusing to offer the same services to another section. It’s pretty much the basis of all anti-discrimination laws. You’re not allowed to be that much of an arse.

  15. #15 Sarah
    November 26, 2008

    Hold on… Thats exactly why we can’t have the ads on buses run by stagecoach in England… why not try for billboards, t-shirts and private properties

  16. #16 BAllanJ
    November 26, 2008

    Well, these are buses that are government owned, and I guess the ad company has a contract to run the signs… their contract with the government should not allow them to control the content. If they don’t want to run atheist ads, they shouldn’t have bid for the govt contract.

  17. #17 Jack
    November 26, 2008

    Pursuing legal action because an ad company refused to run an ad will get you laughed out of court pretty quickly.

  18. #18 AndyD
    November 26, 2008

    They have $16,000 to spend. How much change do you get from $16,000 and a frivolous lawsuit?

    Better to get a lot more money and let APN know exactly how much you enjoyed spending it with someone else.

  19. #19 chuckbert
    November 26, 2008

    If any Aussies or Aus-dwellers want to contact him the email address of the Marketing Manager of APN Outdoor can be found on his zoominfo entry at:
    http://www.zoominfo.com/people/McBeth_Paul_1284455694.aspx

  20. #20 Spiv
    November 26, 2008

    Like others have said, you can’t really pursue legal recourse on this one. It’s a private company who has the right to deny any customer for any reason. Social pressure is the only thing that could possibly make them bend, be it voluntarily.

    And since we’re all suggesting slogans:

    “Busy worrying about what happens after you die? Spend some time helping your fellow man while you’re alive instead.”

    “Still praying? Maybe you should try actually doing something.”

  21. #21 Matt Heath
    November 26, 2008

    I may be wrong, but isn’t the Atheist Bus Campaign in the UK being hindered by Stagecoach buses who refuse to run the ad, due to their owner being Christian?

    Probably, if it’s still the same bloke that used to run it. He bankrolled the campaign to keep anti-gay legislation on the books in Scotland too. He’s a dick.

    You can’t offer services to one section of society whilst refusing to offer the same services to another section. It’s pretty much the basis of all anti-discrimination laws. You’re not allowed to be that much of an arse.

    I’m pretty sure you are, under the law basically anywhere. Owning advertising space is surely (legally) like owning a press; you’re free to do what you want with it.

  22. #22 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    November 26, 2008

    It’s a private company who has the right to deny any customer for any reason.

    That’s a bit simplistic. I can’t open a store and hang a “no blacks” sign on the door; there are laws forbidding that.

    That said, I have no idea what the law says in this particular case.

  23. #23 CSBSH
    November 26, 2008

    I think I’m with #16. If the buses are owned by the government, and a private company has a contract with the government to sell ad space on them, then they should either allow both atheists, christians and muslims (and other interest groups) to buy ad space or they shouldn’t allow any of them to do that. Companies willing to discriminate people should not get such contracts.

  24. #24 Vidar
    November 26, 2008

    Maybe they could put up some bible verses about condoning slavery and genocide, or advocating stoning your children to death, or the one about cutting the unborn out of their mothers’ womb, and smashing the little fetus against some rocks.
    They can’t refuse, can’t they? It’s from the friggin BIBLE!

  25. #25 hyperdeath
    November 26, 2008

    I agree with #3

    Free speech guarantees that you will not be persecuted for your opinion. It does not oblige others to provide a platform for your opinion. The company’s actions are reprehensible, but (so long as they are not being subsidised by tax-payers money) it is their choice.

  26. #26 Liberal Atheist
    November 26, 2008

    I think we should do something like this here in Sweden, though I suspect only a very few religious people would protest. But it would still be worth it only to hear the reactions, and maybe it would start some discussion between strangers on the bus, something we’re not very good at doing.

  27. #27 Matt Heath
    November 26, 2008

    IANAL but I’m not buying the line that the contract with the government makes a big difference. Newspapers run government-paid-for material and aren’t expected to provide an open forum (in any jurisdiction I know of). In any case, if you google “separation church state Australia” you’ll see that there is no history of the courts enforcing non-establihment (and it’s not entirely clear cut that constitution requires a strict separation)

  28. #28 charley
    November 26, 2008

    We had a similar situation with a billboard here in west Michigan in March:

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,2377,Atheists-claim-censorship-by-billboard-company,M-Live

  29. #29 Judith
    November 26, 2008

    London and Washington, DC. Is this some new definition of the word “everywhere” with which I was not previously acquainted?

  30. #30 Paul Lundgren
    November 26, 2008

    I hate to say this, but I agree with #3 on this thread. Refusing business from a particular entity doesn’t automatically constitute discrimination. I don’t have any idea what Australian law says about this sort of thing. And refusing the advertising in the first place is a different thing than what happened in California, where the billboard was taken down after being erected in the first place.

  31. #31 Graculus
    November 26, 2008

    In this case the ad company has freedom of speech just as I do

    Actually, businesses do not have free speech rights.

    Hint: false advertising is still actionable.

    As far as I’m concerned businesses can’t have *any* rights, as they aren’t moral agents, but that’s a different argument. In this case what they are doing is possibly within Australian law, but would run afoul of the HRC here, which forbids businesses to discriminate on the basis of religion (among other things).

  32. #32 John S. Wilkins
    November 26, 2008

    This is, I believe, against section 45 of the Trade Practices Act, and would be very easily litigated.

  33. #33 Stephen
    November 26, 2008

    John: I’ll have to take your word for it. I just looked that section up, and I found it almost incomprehensible.

    But yes, I gathered from the original article that the company concerned has a monopoly on this sort of advertising (i.e. not just buses) in several cities. In which case I would have expected the refusal should be actionable under monopolies / competition legislation.

  34. #34 Evolving Squid
    November 26, 2008

    In this case the ad company has freedom of speech just as I do and if it does not wish to promote a certain viewpoint I believe it is within its rights to do so.

    I happen to agree with you with regard to the ad company in general… but the publicly funded BUS COMPANY does have a duty to permit and encourage the exercise of free speech. If they can’t be fair, then the transit service should be forced to drop that ad company.

  35. #35 Mez
    November 26, 2008

    Heh. Ads on buses remind me of one they had three or so years ago with the copy: “If life is a journey, Hong Kong is the ultimate destination”.

    Like, how did that one get through? Or did the ad agency really deep-down hate the client?

    Anyway, there’s no “right to free speech” in Australia. Non-discrimination law only covers certain differences, like race, gender and some disabilities, as well as religion; non-religion would probably fit that, BUT without some outside backing there won’t be enough money to fund a case + afford ads.

    Unfortunately quite a few of the people at the top or with strong influence in government over the last decade or so, including our current Labor PM, Kevin Rudd, have been one version or another of Christian despite the general lack of religion in the populace. (My parents, frex, would have ticked the CoE box on every census, but, besides sending me to Sunday School, showed no skerrick of piety or ‘belief’. In this they were quite typical Aussies.) Evangelicals have been increasing of late, tho’, and I worry that economic hardship may create more fertile ground.

  36. #36 BMcP
    November 26, 2008

    yet again, if it’s a private ad company, they really should have the right to accept or reject whomever they wish.

    Plus they can always try another advertisement company, it doesn’t have to be particular buses or even buses.

  37. #37 raven
    November 26, 2008

    It is borderline that this isn’t religious discrimination and a violation of free speech.

    There is only 1 bus company and it is publicly owned and most likely taxpayer subsidized. As a publicly owned entity they can’t discriminate on the basis of religion or the lack thereof or censor legal speech. At least in the USA they would have a difficult time in court over these issues.

    PZ deepsixing a troll is different. The internet is a giant brick wall. He controls one tiny brick. Anyone is free to scribble whatever they want on one of the other bricks or even rent a brick or two and babble incessantly on it. Same thing with newspapers or magazines. Xianity Today doesn’t have to take any and all advertising because there are thousands of mags out there and anyone can start their own.

    Who owns the channels of communication and how many there are make a big difference. Public schools can’t promote sectarian viewpoints, but private schools can and do promote any and all sectarian viewpoints.

  38. #38 noodles
    November 26, 2008

    RE: “If the buses are owned by the government, and a private company has a contract with the government to sell ad space on them.”

    I agree. Also, I think it’s ridiculous how many Americans accept the fiction that companies are people with rights. It’s all that Libertarian Utopianist twaddle and nonsense.

  39. #39 Diagoras
    November 26, 2008

    This reminds me of what Kazimierz ?yszczy?ski wrote in the 17th century:

    “IV – simple folk are cheated by the more cunning with the fabrication of God for their own oppression; whereas the same oppression is shielded by the folk in a way, that if the wise attempted to free them by the truth, they would be quelled by the very people.”

  40. #40 PsyberDave
    November 26, 2008

    Well, we’re all talking about it. If the bus company had run the ad, would we be discussing it now?

    It seems like they got some publicity anyway. And, they were able to tell us both of their slogans, not just one that they would have had to choose for their ad.

  41. #41 Chris Davis
    November 26, 2008

    Well, regardless of the ad agency’s legal right to discriminate against the campaign, they should be made aware at least that there is a large number of people all over the world who think they’re being dicks about it.

    Perhaps there’s someone at the apnoutdoor.com.au domain we could write to…

    CD

  42. #42 Rebelest
    November 26, 2008

    On the topic of censorship: Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Rancho Cucamonga, Ca., has been removed by the General Outdoor Advertising (GOA)under pressure from at least one city official.

    Atheists United: http://www.atheistsunited.org/ has a campaign underway for us to express our outrage at the suppression of FFRF’s free speech rights. They have a link to an automatic message generator or you can create your own. It is here: http://www.atheistsunited.org/about-atheists-united/programs/147-automatic-message-generator

    This is a clear violation of “free speech”. FFRF had a contract with GOA had paid for the advertising. The billboard had been installed and because some citizens had complained about it an official put pressure on GOA to remove the sign.

    We must not allow this kind of gross discrimination to stand! LAWSUIT! LAWSUIT! LAWSUIT!

    You can find out more at: http://www.ffrf.org/news/2008/rancho_complaint.php

  43. #43 Jack
    November 26, 2008

    #38 – “Also, I think it’s ridiculous how many Americans accept the fiction that companies are people with rights. It’s all that Libertarian Utopianist twaddle and nonsense.”

    I don’t understand the person/company distinction. A company isn’t an AI, it’s run by people. If the head of the company doesn’t want to sell to a group of people, that should be his business – it is, after all, his product until it’s sold.

  44. #44 Spiv
    November 26, 2008

    “It’s a private company who has the right to deny any customer for any reason.
    ———-
    That’s a bit simplistic. I can’t open a store and hang a “no blacks” sign on the door; there are laws forbidding that.

    That said, I have no idea what the law says in this particular case.”

    It is admittedly simplistic, but keep in mind I’m looking at this from a person who used to do firearms sales/transfer as part of another job. It may be that we had special rights as a result of the nature of the job, but the truth is as long as we didn’t provide a reason it was not only acceptable, but required to deny certain persons on various reasons.

    In our case it was almost always someone who was drunk, otherwise intoxicated, clearly purchasing for the purposes of immediate revenge, or people trying to circumvent the system (IE the felon who lost his rights, bringing his mother in to be the object of the background check and then immediately turning the weapon over to him). I personally know of no ATF or FFL who denied people based on race or sheer appearance, but I would guess it happens often. Fortunately the thuggush looking young adults who are most likely the victims of that can simply go to another store/dealer/whatever and escape the discrimination, but it’s less than ideal.

    Back to the matter at hand: if the company is state owned or sponsored, they have a pickle on their hands that will most likely be resolved at a hearing level. The slogans they proposed are only offensive to the overly sensitive, and they really would do themselves a better service just by selling them the ad-space at standard price without making a big deal about it. I’m guessing they’re afraid the religious will boycott them, but it’s really an opportunity to get the two sides in a battle for exposure and make good money doing it (if handled well).

    I think I’m going to go home and write out some of situations where people were denied for one reason or another. If you’re looking for an interesting job to get you some college monies, that’s definitely one.

  45. #45 Nerd of Redhead
    November 26, 2008

    Companies that sell things, including advertising space, fall under commerce acts. These acts spell out how a business must treat their customers. These acts usually include non-discrimination clauses. So the company cannot act by fiat. Businesses are allowed a certain leeway if customers cause a ruckus or try to defraud the business. So a bar owner can’t bar black people as a class, but can bar a black person if they pass a bad check, providing they bar everyone who passes a bad check.

    In this case, the advertising company might be sued by not providing the services to everyone.

  46. #46 Last Hussar
    November 26, 2008

    In UK law no company HAS to sell you it’s product (incidentally they don’t have to stick to the ticket proce either- it is an “Invitation to treat”. The price is agreed at the point of sale- you could try haggling over a trolley load of shopping). The ‘don’t have to sell’ is a point of confusion with many people- they think they have the right to the display model in the window.

    How exactly do you boycott an ad agency?
    “PZ why did you crash”
    “It was that or look at the billboard”

  47. #47 raven
    November 26, 2008

    Jack moron:

    If the head of the company doesn’t want to sell to a group of people, that should be his business – it is, after all, his product until it’s sold.

    Oh really? So you are fine with a hotel or restaurant not serving blacks. It is OK if a housing development won’t allow houses to be sold to Asians. And stores can have “No Whites Allowed” signs on their doors.

    The bus company isn’t even private. It is publicly owned by the taxpayers who subsidize it. Some of those taxpayers are atheists or atheist sympathasizers. The public shouldn’t be in the business of discriminating against one group or another or limiting free speech of religious minorities.

  48. #48 Olaf
    November 26, 2008

    #22, 47:

    There’s a difference between saying “we won’t sell advertising space to blacks/atheists/whoever” and saying “we won’t run advertisements for political or religious ideologies we disagree with”. If the company refused to advertise, say, a brand of chocolate just because its owner was an atheist that would be a case of discrimination; but they have no obligation to run adverts saying “there is no god”, “foetuses are babies”, or even “2+2=4″ if they happen to disagree with those statements.

  49. #49 speedwell
    November 26, 2008

    Raven, you are setting up straw men. No libertarian WANTS a business to racially (or otherwise) discriminate. Discrimination on the basis of anything but a person’s ability to do business is, frankly, bad for business. Would you shop at, or work for, a business that had a “whites only” sign on the door? Nobody here would, I bet. Neither would I. (They can just TRY that nonsense in the majority non-white neighborhood where I live in Houston.)

    But business owners should have the right to decide how to run the business that is their property, just the same way you should have the right to decide how, or whether, to spend your money.

  50. #50 Becksi
    November 26, 2008

    Religions make big claims of eternal paradise and various miracles. Isn’t that false advertising?

  51. #51 raven
    November 26, 2008

    There’s a difference between saying “we won’t sell advertising space to blacks/atheists/whoever” and saying “we won’t run advertisements for political or religious ideologies we disagree with”.

    There is no difference in this case. The advertising space is owned by the public. The advertising company doesn’t own it, they are agents or contractors of the bus line.

    Since when is the government in the business of censoring free speech or pushing one religion over another. Not legal in the USA.

  52. #52 tsg
    November 26, 2008

    IANAL but I’m not buying the line that the contract with the government makes a big difference. Newspapers run government-paid-for material and aren’t expected to provide an open forum (in any jurisdiction I know of).

    The government buying ad space in a privately owned paper is not the same thing as a privately owned company selling ad space on government owned buses.

    If the government would not be allowed to discriminate to whom they sell ad space if they were doing it directly, then neither should the company they contracted it out to.

    To do otherwise opens the door for the government to discriminate simply by farming it out to a private company.

  53. #53 Olaf
    November 26, 2008

    #51:

    Fair enough that the company’s public. I can’t say I know enough about Australian law to know what that implies about the legality of accepting only some adverts, though.

    I’ve just realised that the post you were replying to said “If the head of the company doesn’t want to sell to a group of people”, to which your ‘No Whites’ analogy is of course perfectly relevant. I was comparing it to discrimination based on message rather than on the person spreading the message, for which I think there is a significant difference. My apologies.

  54. #54 Steven Carr
    November 26, 2008

    So Bible verses are allowed are they?

    Simply put Numbers 31:17-18 on the side of the bus.

  55. #55 FishyFred
    November 26, 2008

    PZ: I’m told that the caterers for the Beltway Atheists’ (Washington, D.C.) Festivus Party dropped them because they found out they were atheists.

  56. #56 Heraclides
    November 26, 2008

    @2:

    Of course you can apply ‘bigotry’ to other things, bigotry means “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself”, or “an unreasonable or obstinate adherence to an opinion”, nothing about what the opinions are about but the intolerant attitude to them. I believe it originally applied only to religious views, but is used broadly these days. The OED seems to agree with me on this one ;-)

  57. #57 Kel
    November 26, 2008

    I was very pissed off when I was informed about this yesterday. What the fuck seriously?

  58. #58 clinteas
    November 26, 2008

    Bit of a non-issue really IMO.
    Australians dont like in-your-face political advertising anyway,I reckon you’d probably turn off more people than you would win over.
    And its summer,its the wrong time to be doing this sort of thing,its beer and beach and Cricket here for the next 4 months.
    Im not saying it wouldnt be good to have the ads up and see them cause a bit of a stir and a public discussion,mind you.

  59. #59 Wowbagger
    November 26, 2008

    Australians are generally as laid back about religion as they are about everything else (sport notwithstanding) so the signs wouldn’t be likely to make more than a small handful of people blink – so I find it a bit weird that the company would choose for forgo revenue for religious reasons.

  60. #60 Heraclides
    November 26, 2008

    @54: Ouch.

  61. #61 Graculus
    November 26, 2008

    I don’t understand the person/company distinction. A company isn’t an AI, it’s run by people.

    If they are a corporation they gave up those interests when they protected their assets behind incorporation.

    Or are you a typical Libertarian, who believes that all power and rights belong to amoral, immortal entities, and real humans should just suck the hind teat?

  62. #62 jimwatsondc
    November 26, 2008

    Buses are sprouting messages of reason everywhere…except Australia:

    Add the US to the list of exceptions…

    http://www.godhatesfags.com/visual/photos/busads/index.html

    I found this peach at another blog I read.

    If I believed in a god, I’d pray for the rapture to take the mouthbreathers away and leave me in peace.

  63. #63 Cath the Canberra Cook
    November 26, 2008

    OK, this company sucks and we should write to them or the government or something.

    But as for the campaign itself, Aussies are generally pretty laid back about religion, and I don’t think this campaign would work here. IMO, it would be better to go for concrete examples of harm, to actually move the giveashitometer off zero.

    And totally OT, but what’s the origin of that mouthbreathing=stupidity thing? As a sufferer of chronic sinus conditions, I swear I don’t get stupider when by doze is sduffed.

  64. #64 Wowbagger
    November 26, 2008

    I second Cath’s request for an explanation for where ‘mouthbreater’ comes from. I’ve heard it a few times now (including on Family Guy) but haven’t ever really understood it.

  65. #65 Wowbagger
    November 26, 2008

    Ahem, mouthbreather.

    I’ve got sinus issues of my own today – pollen count is high – so maybe there’s something to it.

  66. #66 hohoho
    November 26, 2008

    i mentioned in the last thread about australia i might have started a riot by implying that aussies are a bunch of biggoted aresholes… i say ‘might’ as i didnt bother reading the thoughts of 100 or so right thinking aussies that happen to grace our planet…

    but as this again shows, those that haven’t left their pitiful island could be too easily mistaken for oklahomans…

    u can say what you want now, carnts, i’ve been down under long enough to smell your coffee…

  67. #67 Rob Davidson
    November 26, 2008

    Yeah, what’s so bad about breathing through one’s mouth? Seems pretty trivial – it’s only marginally less healthy than nose breathing. I think it’s one of those US-based idioms that eventually will filter through to Australia, like “go figure” and “could care less”.

  68. #68 Knight of L-sama
    November 26, 2008

    For the record I should point out that in Australia most bus services are not government owned. They’re operated by private companies under government contract.

    The only exception that I know of is Brisbane City Council who own and operate their own bus service. And I don’t remember seeing any sort of religiously based advertising on any of them recently.

  69. #69 Kel
    November 26, 2008

    It annoys me that every day when I catch the bus to work I have to see advertising for some new-age bullshit TV show.

  70. #70 JakePT
    November 26, 2008

    Interestingly, there were bus ads for Scientology here in Sydney a couple of years ago.

  71. #71 Tim Lamb
    November 26, 2008

    @ #68 – It’s correct that most bus companies in Australia are private companies, who bid for the business from the state government. Another exeception to this however is ACTION is Canberra, which is a government-owned business entity.

    @ #32 – IANAL but my reading of section 45 of the Trade Practices Act – and admittedly my eyes glazed over partway through – is that it is trying to prohibit contracts which lead to effective monopolies or otherwise restrict trade. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a “right” of a consumer to engage services. I agree with previous comments that courts are unlikely to find that such a right exists.

    AFA are better off capitalising on this refusal – news reportage of discrimination is publicity you can’t buy!

  72. #72 Michael Hawkins
    November 26, 2008

    The more we get out the message, the better it will be. The people running this ad company should be ashamed of themselves.

    Don’t forget, the AFA can always use donations.

  73. #73 David
    November 26, 2008

    Excuse the innocent tagalong spam (I’m hoping being a regular reader will buy me some slack this one time)…but I’ve posted an interview on my site with Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine and enthusiatic supporter of the London bus campaign. I think readers here will be interested in what she has to say, particularly with respect to the challenges science educators face. http://www.neuronarrative.com

  74. #74 shonny
    November 26, 2008

    What else to expect from a country overwhelmingly populated by sheep?
    And the brighter ones walk on all four!

  75. #75 Kel
    November 26, 2008

    What else to expect from a country overwhelmingly populated by sheep?
    And the brighter ones walk on all four!

    Don’t go confusing the United States with Canada…

  76. #76 Jack
    November 26, 2008

    Re: Raven

    Oh really? So you are fine with a hotel or restaurant not serving blacks. It is OK if a housing development won’t allow houses to be sold to Asians. And stores can have “No Whites Allowed” signs on their doors.

    Sure, why not? It’s reprehensible and I wouldn’t do business with them, and I suspect you wouldn’t either. That doesn’t mean we need a law for it.

  77. #77 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 26, 2008

    Sure, why not? It’s reprehensible and I wouldn’t do business with them, and I suspect you wouldn’t either. That doesn’t mean we need a law for it.

    yeah that’ll work

  78. #78 Jack
    November 26, 2008

    Re: 61 (Graculus)

    If they are a corporation they gave up those interests when they protected their assets behind incorporation.

    Or are you a typical Libertarian, who believes that all power and rights belong to amoral, immortal entities, and real humans should just suck the hind teat?

    What’s with the scare words? “amoral, immortal entities?” And the drama of “real humans” and “hind teat”?

    I believe I have the right to my body and what I own. That includes the goods and services I sell. What’s wrong with that?

  79. #79 raven
    November 26, 2008

    Re: Raven

    Oh really? So you are fine with a hotel or restaurant not serving blacks. It is OK if a housing development won’t allow houses to be sold to Asians. And stores can have “No Whites Allowed” signs on their doors.

    Jack:
    Sure, why not? It’s reprehensible and I wouldn’t do business with them, and I suspect you wouldn’t either. That doesn’t mean we need a law for it.

    Thanks Jack. You have identified yourself as a brain dead kook and you owe me 45 wasted seconds of my life that I will never get back. I see now why libertarians get lumped in with Moonies, Alien Abductor victims, Creationists, and Scientologists. Fanatics are all the same and they never let facts, history, or reality get in the way of their ideology.

    We had your system for 2 centuries. Blacks were very much second class citizens denied most oportunities of average citizens. This actually happened to a friend’s mother. Asian kid, had a serious accident, bleeding. Rushed her to the hospital in the 1930s. They wouldn’t treat her because she was….Chinese-American. The family had to rush her a long way to find a hospital ER that would let nonwhites through the door.

    We now have myriads of laws against discrimation. They have done wonders for making the US a better place for everyone.

  80. #80 ambulocetus
    November 27, 2008

    Chiming in on the slogans: “War, Famine, Corruption; and all you care about is abortion?”

  81. #81 cicely
    November 27, 2008

    Steven Carr @54:

    So Bible verses are allowed are they?

    Simply put Numbers 31:17-18 on the side of the bus.

    Nah; too subtle. Plus, a huge number of Christians (maybe a majority?) don’t actually read the thing, or restrict themselves to just their favorite parts.

    I would say, print out the verse/s, with Biblical citation, and then under it in large, bold letters (I visualise it in bright red with black outlines) print “Think about it, people!

    Obviously the people who are pure-quill Faith-heads will just ignore it, but it could help sprout the seeds of doubt in others who are susceptible to reason.

  82. #82 Chris Davis
    November 27, 2008

    Waitaminit. Suppose I own a bus ad company with a country-wide monopoly. My cousin runs a company making chocolate.

    The head of a rival chocolate company approaches me to buy ad space on my buses, and I tell him to piss off because I don’t want help my cuz’s competition.

    Is that legal? The law’s an ass if it is.

    CD

  83. #83 Arwen
    November 27, 2008

    We had wall-to-wall (Catholic) World Youth Day bus ads for months here in Sydney. Even the RTA’s traffic warning signs advertised it. And I remember the Dianetics bus ads too. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t smack of hypocrisy.

  84. #84 grinch
    November 27, 2008

    #41 paul.mcbeth if you google.

  85. #85 Craig
    November 27, 2008

    If the head of the company doesn’t want to sell to a group of people, that should be his business – it is, after all, his product until it’s sold.

    Unless the company is not incorporated or an LLC, the owner enjoys immunity from things that you and I as individuals don’t. If the company goes bankrupt, he doesn’t lose his personal assets. If the company violates some regulation, he doesn’t face jail time (usually). If the company is sued, he’s not at risk of having his house taken.

    If the owner gets to have his company have free speech rights like real people, then the owner should NOT have rights and immunities that real people don’t have.

  86. #86 Martin Andersen
    November 27, 2008

    “I hope someone is considering legal action” – Terrible idea on several levels.

  87. #87 Steven Carr
    November 27, 2008

    Why not put up adverts we know would be accepted, like the ones for the Alpha Course?

    An advert showing some people praying,or people in a church listening to a sermon, and asking ‘Is there more to life than THIS?’

  88. #88 Angel Kaida
    November 28, 2008

    @61 and 79,
    Those of us libertarians who aren’t spouting ill-considered political ideas in this thread or any other may not appreciate your stupid generalizations. Thanks.

    And I’m pretty sure that 48 is right, and this wouldn’t qualify as discrimination on the basis of religion. I’m also pretty sure that, provided these are taxpayer-funded activities, it’s still a government endorsement of religion, which is a problem (though not the same problem). And regardless of whether the activities are taxpayer-funded or in any other way illegal, those people are certainly being assholes. We should pharyngulize them (by sending them messages stating our opinions with exactly the level of politeness we feel is appropriate) and hope that they will realize they’re being assholes and fix it. That’s my guess :)

  89. #89 mindlesley
    November 28, 2008

    I think atheist graffiti-artists should do tasteful, rational art-responses to Anp ban. Also we in Oz should agitate for changes to Trade pracices Act to clearly state what companies that hold government contracts, can and can’t do.Also strengthen anti-monopoly clauses within this act. We also need to get our new fed. gov. to work on a campaign for a bill of rights in Aus. b4 end of their term. I doubt anyone read the whole of section 45 with any degree of thoroughness. It is not a 5 min. read. Skimmed more likely!Love, peace and intervention domestically, Mindlesley PS another case where one of our state governments have abbrogated any responsibility by privatising a service (the ads not the bloody buses) that could be contributing to the public purse.
    Dawkins help us if they finally give everything to private industry. Dont get agitated ML!

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