Next, They'll Be Hunting Witches in Nova Scotia! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Reader Pascal Poirier tells us:

I am sure you are aware of the bus ads in London, UK.  In case you were not aware, we had recent developments in Halifax, NS, Canada, with the attempt by Humanist Canada to put the toned-down slogan "You can be good without God" on our buses.  It appears that this true statement was too controversial for the transit authorities.

This campaign was undoubtedly inspired by the currently successful bus-ad campaign in London, England, encouraged and supported by Richard Dawkins. Signs stating "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" are seen all over that city, though Dawkins had reservations about including the word, "probably" in the text...

Yes, the Metro Transit agency in Halifax, Nova Scotia, will not allow the "You can be good without God" advertisement to appear on its buses. The agency's very proper spokesperson said:

We're a public transit service first, and then we sell advertising on the side, and normally the standard procedure is we have a contracted agency who sells our advertising. If there's something that's viewed to be controversial, as part of our contract we get to see the messaging on it, and so they advise us if they think something's going to be controversial and then we review the message. If we feel it's going to be something that's going to upset a number of people, we don't choose to advertise it ... we don't wish to be controversial, any more controversial than we have to be.

Folks, I'm trying to think of anything that won't offend "a number of people." Personally, I'm offended by ads for churches, temples, and mosques, but I don't think that Metro Transit would tear off those advertisements to spare me the agony I'd have to undergo by riding in a bus so festooned, or just seeing them pass me in the street. The organization behind the intended-but-forbidden advertisement is Humanist Canada. They say on their website that they'd hoped to place the message in bus terminals and subway stations across Canada over the next few weeks. They quote their president Pat O'Brien:

Our ad has been shown to be acceptable to everyone else in the country... Some people like it, some don't. That's fine. It's all about getting the message out and getting the conversation going. We want people to know that belief in a god is not necessary to live a full, moral and happy life. Humanists embody this concept every day... It would be interesting to see what vegans think about the KFC ads. I mean, at what point do you stop offending people?

Good question! The "Good Without God" transit campaign was created to reach out to atheists, agnostics, skeptics and other non-believers. Humanist Canada, in common with other Humanist groups, is a non-profit charitable organization promoting ethics, rationality, critical thinking, dignity and equality for all persons.

We're getting there, slowly...