The blog of Dr Glenn Andrew Peoples on Theology, Philosophy, and Social Issues

New Zealand atheists vs free market economics


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!


Membership vs Faith


Dissenters: We still know where you live


  1. One could easily imagine athiests playing the “church and state” card if they saw religious advertisements on public transportation.

  2. michael

    Would the bus company have said “NZ Bus has the right to decline advertising that may, in its perception, be considered controversial or divisive,” if it was a christian ad campaign?
    Religions for self rightous hypocrites.
    Nz Bus are clowns.
    Long live free thinking.

  3. Michael, why are you asking me what they would have said? Have you called them?

    The fact remains, to threaten a lawsuit because someone doesn’t let you use their property to advertise your beliefs is very anti free thought, and anti free market to boot. You don’t want free thinking. You want people to use their resources to promote your thinking.

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