Saturday, 7 December 2013

Vancouver Billboard Company's "Moral Monopoly" Amounts to Censorship

Landlord's Game was the 1924 predecessor of Monopoly.
Have you ever played the game Monopoly? Sure you have. Whether it be with a board, some fake money and a couple of dice or every day life. I've read that the original creator of the game came up with it as a demonstration of the negative effects of concentrating lands in private monopolies.

History has seen parallels with this idea in other systems. The concentration and consolidation of powers (political or market) has proven harmful to society.

Like, for example, the near total monopoly over everything by the Catholic Church during the middle ages and ending with the Renaissance. Or the situation here in Quebec up to the Quiet Revolution. In the religious context it usually means some dominant group silencing the messages of smaller groups - religious or otherwise - using state apparatus of censorship, or simply by owning all of the media.

Monopoly is probably how the Catholic Church will succeed in controlling women's bodies through their enormous -- near monopolistic -- hospital systems in the United States. Pre-1960s Quebec could act as a perfect template.

Well, a billboard company in Vancouver effectively has a monopoly on the city's advertising space.

Back in October, they designed a huge new pro-life billboard for the group Signs for Life to be put up in Halifax.

Likely around the same time, CFI Canada submitted their own designs for life-affirming positive billboards promoting the message that people could live good lives without God.

Looks threatening, doesn't it? (source)

Atheist advertisements have been rejected in Vancouver – again
Now Pattison Outdoor has refused to run a new round of ads, which would have expanded the previous Campaign to billboards in Vancouver. The new ads move the conversation beyond non-belief, featuring parables that replace religious morality with humanist ethical wisdom. 
“Pattison provided no clear rationale to support their decision,” said Kevin Smith, CFI President. “They refused to identify a motive for their rejection or to supply guidelines governing their decision-making process.”
This has been covered pretty well by both Canadian Atheist and The Friendly Atheist. I'll just add my two cents here.

I wouldn't have a problem with this if Pattison were one of a few companies in Vancouver. Then the CFI could simply take their business elsewhere and we'll all just let free enterprise take care of things.

The problem here is the company has a near monopoly on the signage in Vancouver.
Pattison holds a virtual monopoly on billboard space in Vancouver, giving them the power to censor these ads completely.
This effectively controls the messaging to the people of Vancouver and silences any unacceptable views. Practically, it comes down to the same thing as censorship of atheist material in newsstands, on television or being sent in the mail. The system is broken because Pattison controls the whole system. Perhaps Pattison should reconsider, or be broken up.

The CFI is going to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and I think they have a pretty good case.

Oh, and if Pattison wanted to gag the CFI from spreading their message, it could have backfired. Because I've been seeing their billboards all over the television and print media...

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, those signs are privately owned and they can decide, based on any criteria they want, who they choose to advertise. Anyone who doesn't like that is welcome to go through the process of buying their own signs and they can do the same thing. It's just not much that anyone can do about it.

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