A group of zealous atheists in New Zealand have been raising money to run an advertisement campaign: advertisement for – well nothing, really (quite literally). The campaign was a spinoff from an identical one in the UK where signs declaring the (probable) non-existence of God.
They’ve hit a snag. The company that the group would like to peddle its advertisements has decided that they don’t want to do so. “The company has defended the decision, saying it has the right to decline ads that it sees as controversial or divisive.” As a spokesperson for NZ Bus said,
“NZ Bus has the right to decline advertising that may, in its perception, be considered controversial or divisive,” she said.
“We have said ‘no thank you’ to Mr Fisher and have wished him well in his endeavours to secure a bus company to work with.”
Ah well, it’s a free world and we live in a free market economy. If the ads have merit, surely someone will want to promote them, right?
Somehow, this line of thinking doesn’t seem to be popular with the atheists in question, and certainly not with their spokesperson Simon Fisher. In fact, not only is this just an unfortunate reality of the free market, but it’s a violation of their human rights, the group maintains. “The group was considering taking the case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, Mr Fisher said.”
It’s an interesting world where someone thinks they have a basic human right to the use of someone else’s advertising space to promote their beliefs. I can only wonder what these very same atheists would have said if a bus company decided not to run ads encouraging people to become Muslims – and the Muslims started talking about legal action. I’ll let your imagination run wild with the sort of descriptions that would be applied. In fact, feel free to offer your on wild speculation in the comments section!
- New Zealand's Labour Government and the end of free speech
- Do atheists know more about Christianity than Evangelicals?
- Musings on debate outcomes
- Students: Free at Last
- Free speech and the crusade against Brendan Eich