Category Archives: activism

Atheist Advertising too Controversial in Australia

In previous posts I’ve discussed how the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) are trying in vain to place adverts on buses around Australia. Well now they have lodged a complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-discrimination Commissioner.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc is to complain to the Tasmanian Anti-discrimination Commissioner following the refusal of Metro Tasmania, a State owned bus company, to display its advertisements.

President of the Foundation, David Nicholls said: “Following legal advice we have decided to lodge the complaint. It is unfortunate the AFA has to go down this path to achieve justice. However, there is no grudge involved here, just a simple matter of what is right.”

David Nicholls said atheists worldwide have an important message for humanity and one that is quite urgent. He said the denial of an opportunity to express that message on Public Transport had possibly resulted from unfounded concerns in executive decision making. Mr Nicholls said he expected a good outcome to the complaint and envisaged the slogan, “Atheism – Celebrate reason! Sleep in on Sunday mornings” to soon be on a bus near you.

Hobart lawyer James Crotty has been retained to advise on the complaint.

hat tip to Sean

In more news of discrimination against atheists and free speech comes this piece of news from Albury-Wodonga. Kieran saw a good deal for classified adverts in his local newspaper so decided he’d post an atheist message:

The Border Mail has a classifieds deal on, $1.10 a line for a Christmas greeting. I rang up, and requested the following:

Christians, There probably is no god, so stop worrying and enjoy life – Kieran.

The lady at the other end said “No”.

Surprise, surprise, they wouldn’t accept it.  If the Border Mail is anything like my local rag, The Star, it will be filled with religious adverts, so why not one tiny atheist one?

In fact page 18 of The Star, dated 17 December, is a whole page advertising feature for Christmas church services. There are two letters, one from the Catholic Bishop and one from the Anglican Bishop, and eleven (11) pictorial adverts for various churches and their Christmas services. I don’t’ have a problem with that, if they’ve paid, they are fully entitled to, I’ll just ignore that page. However if the same newspaper refuses to place an atheist (or even a hindu, muslim or other religion) advert then that is discrimination, censorship and denial of free speech.

Kieran has asked for others to try and place an atheist message in his local paper and has even offered to pay for it:

If anyone manages to sneak a good atheist message into the Border Mail’s Christmas greetings, I’ll pay for it.

Intersting idea, and hat tip to The Atheist Blogger.

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Filed under activism, atheism, atheist, censorship, freedom of speech

Why Internet Filtering is NOT a good idea

When someone decides the picture on an album cover is offensive and adds it to a black-list then everyone suffers. from Wikipedia added to child pornography blacklist

Wikipedia has been blacklisted by a British online child pornography watchdog, causing almost every internet user in Britain to be blocked from contributing to the site anonymously.

The British Government-backed Internet Watch Foundation blacklisted Wikipedia over an article on the 1976 album Virgin Killer by German heavy metal band Scorpions.

At issue was a screen shot of the album cover, published with the article, that featured a naked, young girl with her genitals obscured by a simulated tear in the photograph.

After hearing of the blacklisting, Britain’s six main internet service providers blocked their users from accessing the article.

Here in Australia our government is considering having mandatory ISP filtering, unlike the UK where it is not compulsory. But as can be seen if something is considered child pornography then most operators will also consider it such, quite likely to avoid being seen as being soft on child pornography, it then becomes a matter of self censorship. Having seen the offending picture I can see how it could be considered child pornography, but then again I thought Bell Henson‘s pictures were as well.

The problem with the ban is that now all users appear to wikipedia as one of six users (the six ISPs blocking the site), so if just one user gets banned then all users on that ISP will be banned from modifying wikipedia. This may seem a bit innocuous but think of the consequences.

One person complains to the watchdog (and in this case it was only one user), the site gets blacklisted, all users on those six ISPs (about 95% of home internet users) now appear as one of six users. Lets say six people, one on each of the six ISPs, purposefully get themselves banned by wikipedia, then just about every internet user can no longer edit anonymously. Then using an alternate ISP these nefarious gang of six edit various wikipedia sites, the rest of the populace now finds it difficult to correct these edits. These new entries come

I know I’m probably being a bit paranoid and ‘conspiracy theorist’ here, but it just shows how easy it could be, if mandatory filtering was in place, for a small group of people to wreck  havoc on the internet for everyone else. Worse still, in Australia you might not even know it had happened, as the government doesn’t have to expose which sites have been black-listed.

1984 anyone?

In more political correctness gone wrong, comes the story of the man who has been convicted of possessing child pornography, and then lost his appeal. The offending matter?  A cartoon of Homer Simpson having sex with Lisa Simpson. Yes folks a cartoon! The judge (where do they find these people?)  stated:

the word ‘person’ included fictional or imaginary characters …,”

and

“… The mere fact that the figure depicted departed from a realistic representation in some respects of a human being did not mean that such a figure was not a ‘person’.”

feckin’ genius this judge, even most four year olds know the difference between a cartoon and a person, but not our ‘learned’ judge.

There are a few other bloggers covering this and they have come up with some, at times quite funny, extrapolations of this ruling. How far could this go?

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Filed under activism, atheism, censorship, freedom of speech, internet censorship, internet filter, no clean feed, porn

Aussie Atheist Bus Campaign – an update

A couple of days ago it came to my attention that the AFA’s Atheist Bus Campaign has hit another snag. From the transcript of the Religion Report radio broadcast the other day:

… the Atheist Foundation of Australia, who have been refused permission to buy advertising space on public transport.

You might have read in recent weeks that the British Humanist Association, assisted by crusading atheist Richard Dawkins, have been raising money to put their message on London buses. The ads, planned for January, will read, ‘There’s probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’

And in Washington, buses are already trundling around with a Christmas message from the American Humanist Association: ‘Why believe in a god? Just be good, for goodness’ sake’.

Well the Atheist Foundation of Australia wants to mount its own campaign, and says that its members and supporters have pledged $16,000 to fund advertisements on buses in Australia. So they’ve approached APN Outdoor, the company that manages public transport advertising in most Australian capitals.

According to the Atheist Foundation’s president, David Nicholls, APN Outdoor said that they had problems with the wording of the proposed message. But then after the Foundation made two sets of changes to the wording, APN Outdoor said they simply weren’t able to accommodate them.

WHY? Just because. David speculates that APN has rejected any and all atheist bus slogans because of the cultural belief that religion has some sort of privileged status. Even mild criticism of religion is shunned.

I suggest you have a read of the transcript or listen to the podcast, it’s quite interesting, After the host finsishes talking to David he contunes the discussion with Greg Clarke, Director of the Macquarie Christian Studies Institute who is open to allowing the atheist bus slogans “as long as it’s done with a level of civility”, which it was.

The radio show continues with a discussion about a new book, ‘In Your Shoes: Interfaith Education for Australian Religious Educators’, which provides advice for teaching students about different religious traditions. Some interesting comments from the author.

Back to APN censoring advertising, it appears that it’s not just atheist slogans they refuse to advertise. APN has also refused to carry the Catholic’s Respect Life Office (RLO) anti-abortion adverts which were going to display graphic pictures [to scare women into not having abortions]. Whilst I think the idea of showing graphic pictures and trying to scare women into not having an abortion is not very productive and amounts to not much more than psycological warfare against women at a time they can be very vulnerable, I’m not sure it’s really up to the advertisers to be censors? Or is it? Who should be ultimately responsible for what gets advertised?

In the article about the RLO’s advertising ban, I thought it was ironic that the RLO are worried about women’s mental health following an abortion. According to them:

Many women seeking help had experienced substance abuse, anxiety, sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, psychiatric illness, risk-taking behaviour and relationship problems as a result of their abortion.

Well I’ve heard the same thing about women who had found out they were pregnant and didn’t want the child. I’ve also heard of womens lives that have been completely ruined because they were coerced into having a child they didn’t really want, some of these women have experienced the exact same symptoms the RLO described. So who is right and who is wrong? Should abortion be banned because some women feel bad afterwards? NO, I don’t think so, in fact I think if abortion wasn’t so stigmatised, especially by the religious, and women were provided with non-judgemental guidance before, and afterwards if required, a lot less women would have psychological problems with abortion. What do you think?

One more Bus advert banned by APN, ‘The Chasers War on Everything’ DVD release was going to carry the slogan:

“The only good thing to come out of APEC.”

with pictures of their APEC stunt. However APN has banned the advert for being “too political”.

I’m starting to wonder how APN makes any money, as they seem to not want to advertise anything even remotely political or anti-religious.

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Filed under abortion, activism, APEC, APN, atheism, atheist, Atheist Bus Campaign, billboard, Catholic, censorship, christianity, freedom of speech, politics, religion

Atheist Bus Campaign – Aussie Style

Most of you should have by now heard of the UK atheist bus campaign, which I discussed a few days ago. Well it looks like us Aussies are going to follow the POMs lead and run an atheist bus campaign of our own. The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) has announced they are going to run a similar campaign here. The message on our busses is going to be:

“Atheism – Because there is no credible evidence”

At the moment they are only accepting pledges, if you are interested send an email to info@atheistfoundation.org.au with the subject of “Donation Pledge for Bus Ad Campaign”, and tell them how much you intend to pledge once they get the campaign underway. And if you are not already a member of the AFA why not join up as well.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of the wording, I actually think we should have gone for the exact same wording as the UK campaign. Sort of turn it into a world wide slogan, atheist/humanist/secular organisations all over the world displaying the same wording on their buses would have a huge impact in my opinion. But I’ll donate anyway, I hope you’ll join me.

update

Received an email from the AFA thanking me for my pledge and also informing me why they chose not to use the same wording as the UK campaign. It seems the AFA were worried the UK slogan might contravene advertising guidelines, particularly in South Australia (SA) and possibly other states. The following is copied from the email I received:

Here are the relevant regulations in an email from the advertising company.

——–

In this case the Clauses to be tested would pertain to any breaches to any religious guidelines. In SA the following clauses apply:

14.1 The Licensee must not display on a Vehicle and Advertisement that :-

(a) discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of …, religion…;

(h) depicts …, religious or other subject matter which is contentious,…

——-

The risk here is, should the Minister deem any advertisement contravenes these guidelines, the Minister can ask for the advertisement to be removed within short time frames, at the cost of the client.

So you can put up adverts for religion, but not against it; typical.

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Atheist Activism

A chart showing the relationship between weak/...Image via Wikipedia

I found this fascinating quote today:

It is undeniable that atheist activism is desperately needed. It is also clear that we can make an important difference through even a minimal investment of time. So why aren’t more atheists engaging in activism? It occurs to me that it might be useful to address some of the obstacles to atheist activism. This post examines black-and-white thinking as one such barrier to activism.Vjack, Atheist Revolution: Obstacles to Activism: Black-and-White Thinking, Sep 2008

You should read the whole article.

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Lawful Excuse

Kingsnorth Power Station, Hoo, Kent, United Kingdom

Image via Wikipedia

News from UK. A British jury acquitted environmental activists who damaged a coal-fired power station. The Court cleared the six activists of criminal damage, accepting they had a “lawful excuse” to damage the Kingsnorth property to try to prevent the even greater damage of climate change.

The defence of “lawful excuse” under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage — such as breaking down the door of a burning building to put out the fire.

As the article in The Australian says “[this] will send chills down corporate spines across Britain”. This is the second time Greenpeace activists have successfully used the “lawful excuse” defence.

I wonder if this law could be used against churches? I can see the defence case now:

The damage caused to the minds of young children is far worse than the damages we caused writing “God is a Delusion” on the church walls.

So how about it? Anyone got some spray paint tins?

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