Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Pattison Outdoor Refuses To Put Up Secular Group's Bus Signs In Winnipeg

You wanna put up a sign? Ya gotta talk to Jimmy. (source)
Okay, here's the story so far. Some time ago, Dr Richard Thain, a member of Secular Ontario, signed a contract with sign company Pattison Outdoor for six ads to run on fifty buses in Winnipeg. On September 23rd -- apparently after a great deal of hemming and hawing -- Pattison turned his ads down. They're not being too clear about exactly why the ads are being rejected.

Pattison has a history of not liking ads by secular and atheist organizations.

According to this press release by Secular Ontario:
A private citizen in Ontario, Dr Richard Thain, a member of Secular Ontario and a supporter of Civil Rights in Public Education, placed an order with Pattison Outdoor Advertising for the creation of six different ads to run on fifty buses in Winnipeg in order to raise public awareness of a human rights issue in Ontario and Alberta. The timing of the ads was intended to coincide with the launch of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

The ads focus on the publicly-funded Catholic school system in Ontario. They express the opinion that Ontario should establish a single publicly-funded school system with French and English boards, open to all, and abolish public funding of a separate system which gives one religious faith group preferential treatment over all other citizens.
This effort to abolish publicly funded religious school boards in Ontario has got a lot of support from this blogger in the past.

I reached out to Richard via email last night so I could get an idea about the exact wording of these ads along with a clearer backstory.
I signed a contract with Pattison Outdoor Advertising (POA) to rent space on fifty Winnipeg buses for four weeks and a second contract for the "creative" which meant the POA design team would help me with the artwork, layout, font selection, graphics, and even creative writing & ad slogans, if desired, etc.  This is service they provide in the "Production Contract" (both the "creative" and then the manufacture of the 30" x 139"styrene posters which go on one side of the buses).

The texts for the ads were submitted to Pattison Outdoor with the instruction they were not to be altered or edited and that I was taking responsibility for the wording; they were just doing the artwork. 
Richard tells me that the Pattison account exec wanted him to send in a statement that he would be responsible for the wording of the ads and Richard complied with this request.
When the artwork was completed and the ads sent for production, the ads got bogged down in some sort of review process. The president of POA did not tell me what words or phrase(s) he thought violated Ad Council guidelines and asked me to rewrite them and resubmit. I refused. 
Pattison also expressed concerns about using the verb to Google at the bottom of each ad.
Richard tried to explain to them that the word Google is now a common verb in English (above is verb conjugated in the imperative.) He explained that he wasn't referring to the company but rather the word google has been listed as a verb in the Oxford Dictionary since 2006. You can indeed find it listed at Merriam Webster's online dictionary.

Richard agreed to drop Google and replace it with the generic verb Search -- even though we all know everyone who search will inevitably be googling anyway. This was still not good enough for Pattison.

I can only present the proposed text from the six ads. This is because the graphics were created by Pattison's creative team.  Richard did provide me with a short description of them and based on that, I made this very simple graphic, but I've never actually seen them myself.

There was also a stock photo of a child and a highlighted group of words: Equality, Inclusion, Dignity, Respect.

So here's the text that was rejected:

Ad 1.  
One third of Ontario's publicly funded teaching positions (Roman Catholic schools) are essentially closed to two thirds of the population, the non-Catholics.

Ad 2.
UN Human Rights Committee finds Canada guilty of religious discrimination in Ontario...twice! (1999, 2005)
Note that Ad 2 was going to be modified to read: SHAME ON  CANADA! In 1999 the UN Human Rights Committee found Canada guilty of religious discrimination.  Canada is still guilty. However, things didn't progress far enough for this to happen.

You can read more about this UN ruling over at the CBC. The United Nations ruled that Ontario ought to either extend public funding to all religious schools of all religions or stop funding Catholic schools. Obviously the latter makes more sense.

Ad 3.
The public funding of religious schools in Ontario and Alberta is an international human rights embarrassment, a financial disaster and a moral disgrace.
Ad 4.  
Ad 5.
Religiously segregated school systems have been eliminated in Manitoba (1890), Quebec (1997) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1998).
Ad 6.
"...with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent." -- Pope Paul VI Dec 7, 1965
So, back to the press release. Apparently, the wording was considered inappropriate by Pattison Outdoor, but they didn't go into detail about exactly what was objectionable about the phrases -- except for the reference to Google which Thain agreed to drop.
Mr Randy Otto, president of Pattison Outdoor officially informed Thain's lawyer, Dan Mayo on September 23, 2014 that they have decided not to accept the ads.

"We would point out to you that the terms and conditions of our agreement with Dr Thain, which he acknowledged and agreed to abide when he signed our media contract, gives Pattison Outdoor Advertising the sole right to refuse to run creative 'which in our opinion' violates Canadian Advertising Foundation guidelines."

Pattison Outdoor considers 'this matter closed.'

Otto did not identify which words or phrases Pattison Outdoor considers to be in violation of `The Canadian Ad Standards.' Thain's lawyer says the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards is a private-sector set of rules which must comply with the Canadian Constitution and Human Rights Act.
Richard Thain is sticking to his guns and is refusing to change is words -- especially since he's not being told which words need to change. However, it's a matter of principle and he maintains it's his right to free expression. Besides, there are no words here that are obviously obscene! They are referring to a UN ruling!

Thain points out in a quote on the press release:
"It is ironic that at the same time as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is opening in Winnipeg, Pattison Outdoor is denying my right to free expression," Richard Thain pointed out. "This right is enshrined in The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
It is, indeed. Furthermore, the chairman and sole owner of Pattison Outdoor, Jim Pattison, has a history of picking and choosing the sort of material that gets posted on his signs. It often needs to comply with his fundamentalist Christian and conservative point of view. He's fine with putting up anti-choice and climate change denial posters but has a problem with Greenpeace. Last December, he rejected some completely innocuous banners by CFI -- just... because... God.

This would be fine and all, if Pattison Outdoors didn't have a virtual monopoly on banners. At least this is how things were in Vancouver. I'm uncertain how things are in Winnipeg and would be interested to find out.

The press release ends with the following six groups who support Thain in this endeavor. You can add me to that list.
The following people and groups share a concern regarding the discriminatory public funding of religious schools and agree that it is time to establish a single, secular publicly-funded school system with French and English boards

Leonard Baak: (613) 805 0940

Renton Patterson: Civil Rights in Public Education (613) 735 5069

Malcolm Buchanan: a past President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and former General Secretary of the OSSTF (289) 439 0157

Luke Fevin: APUPIL (Albertan Parents for Unbiased Public Inclusive Learning) (780) 700 4007

Patrick Morrow: Winnipeg MN Humanist Atheists Agnostics of Manitoba (HAAM) 204 612 0601

Eric Adriaans: Toronto ON, Centre for Inquiry Canada (226) 374 0612

Eric Thomas: Humanist Canada, President (613) 242 5060

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Jessa Duggar Writes Something Else On Her Instagram

It was only one day and already Jessa Duggar -- from the Nineteen Kids & Counting quiverfull-type-evangelical-homeschool-Christian-unreal-reality-television-family fame... Well... Listen... She's gone done written something else on her Instagram!

It's not so much the image, which is a haunting picture of children in a Nazi concentration camp. Nope, it's Jessa's description of the image that made people upset. (Emphasis mine.)
I walked through the Holocaust Museum again today... very sobering. Millions of innocents denied the most basic and fundamental of all rights--their right to life. One human destroying the life of another deemed "less than human." Racism, stemming from the evolutionary idea that man came from something less than human; that some people groups are "more evolved" and others "less evolved." A denying that our Creator--GOD--made us human from the beginning, all of ONE BLOOD and ONE RACE, descendants of Adam. The belief that some human beings are "not fit to live." So they're murdered. Slaughtered. Kids with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The sickly. The elderly. The sanctity of human life varies not in sickness or health, poverty or wealth, elderly or pre-born, little or lots of melanin [making you darker or lighter skinned], or any other factor. "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?" (Proverbs 24:10-12) May we never sit idly by and allow such an atrocity to happen again. Not this generation. We must be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Because EVERY LIFE IS PRECIOUS. #ProLife
First off, she has a pretty horrendous picture of what evolution is all about. I've heard it before from the evangelical crowd. Regardless of what the Nazis used to justify their atrocities, evolution is as close to proven fact as any theory in science can ever get. It's right up there with the theory of gravity and the theory of relativity.

However, it was her apparent equation of the murder of millions of self-conscious human beings during the holocaust with the termination of pregnancies -- not self-conscious fully-formed human beings... often not even close -- has offended many of her followers, some of whom were already getting over her anti-atheist comments the day before.
I love you and you are a sweet girl. But I am Jewish and I can't even understand why you would compare the Holocaust to abortion. Women have abortions because their life style or body is not fit for a child. Do you think women feel good after killing an innocent child? It was what they had to do to save a baby from a miserable life. The Holocaust was when 9 million innocent and defenseless people who were deemed 'less than human' were slaughtered. Please don't ever compare those two again. Again I say, you are a lovely girl, just don't compare slaughter to selflessness. -- _mya_butoryak_
Abortion is not murder if you look at science. A fetus isn't viable or alive within the time abortion is allowed. Comparing that to the Holocaust is horrendous. Those people were alive and slaughtered. They were put through hell. To say something that isn't alive is going through the same thing is unjustified. I hope your child does not grow up with the same prejudice and narrow-minded approach to life. Shame on you, @jessaseewald. God forbid you're raped. Would you want that reminder of the attack? And putting a child up for adoption? Well, there are 109,000 children in the foster care system in the United States alone. And millions of ALIVE children around the world waiting for a loving family to adopt them today. I pity you and your lack of compassion. -- mayniacmeg
Ironically, comparing the holocaust with abortion -- many of which are performed when pregnancy is under 12 weeks -- is sort of extra dehumanizing, I think, for the victims of the holocaust. As the last commenter pointed out, these people -- who were completely aware of their situation -- were made to suffer in the vilest and cruelest ways over extended periods. The suffering was totally unthinkably gruesome and horrifying. To say that's the same as abortion belittles the event.

Look, I'm no big fan of abortion. Who is? However, in many situation it's the lesser of several evils and, in the end, it must remain a woman's choice over her own bodily autonomy.

Some of you may wonder why I'm even covering this story. Well, Jessa is the product of her upbringing. It is a cloistered, sheltered evangelical Christian homeschooled upbringing that is anti-evolution, anti-climate change, (anti-science), anti-choice etc. So, this is apparently what you get. It's not Jessa's fault -- by all indications she appears to be an intelligent woman who's simply working with what she's got.

Another reason is that, apparently, half a million people follow this Instagram. It's sad, but these people are looked up to by thousands if not millions of young people. Her words may have more effect on some than all the teachers and public speakers out there.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

South African "Eat Grass" Pastor Now Urging Congregation To Drink Gasoline

Lead warning on a gas pump at Keeler's Korner, Lynnwood, Washington (built 1927). (source)
Remember Pastor Lesego Daniel of Rabboni Center Ministries? He's the South African preacher who urged his congregation to eat grass. That was pretty bad and, as far as I can remember, resulted in people vomiting copiously. Well, now things are worse and I think the police probably ought to be called. He's telling people to drink gasoline! This is no longer funny -- it's sick.
A video showing a controversial South African Christian pastor making members of his congregation drink petrol – which he said would turn into pineapple juice – has sparked a public outcry.
Is he just toying with people now to see how far they'll go? This is like some cruel test to see to what degree people can become completely deluded by blind faith.

Skip ahead to the seven minute mark. Things get completely messed up.

Read on, this man should be locked up.
Pastor Lesego Daniel of Rabboni Center Ministries, located north of capital Pretoria, can be seen in the video holding a bottle of petrol, which, he says, he had prayed for to turn into pineapple juice.

The video, which has gone viral online in recent days, shows Pastor Daniel first giving the petrol to one of his fellow preachers to test.

A female congregant then comes from the audience shaking and dancing, reaching out for the bottle in the pastor's hands.

"You want to drink pineapple juice?" Daniel asks her before giving her a sip of the petrol.

Then several other congregants come forward and drink from the same bottle.
So far, though, it seems that the authorities aren't doing anything at all to control this insanity. The above article quotes a dean of Theology who's pretty sure this isn't Biblical and that although the country's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, this freedom ends when people get harmed. Well, at least someone said that.

Two other people were quoted expressing their outraged, but unlike the dean, they remained anonymous.

Seems like nobody is challenging this pastor who is now clearly a danger to human life.