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← Atheists claim censorship by billboard company

Atheists claim censorship by billboard company - Comments

FightingFalcon's Avatar Comment 1 by FightingFalcon

Ugh...as much as I sympathize with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a private company cannot censor. Only a government can censor, as censorship requires the use of force.

This is a purely economic decision made by a company that would rather not deal with controversy. If the government was forbidding the billboard from being displayed, then that would be censorship. But it's not.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 19:30:00 UTC | #138773

notsobad's Avatar Comment 2 by notsobad

It's a private company and if they don't want your money, deal with it and go elsewhere.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 19:37:00 UTC | #138778

Wosret's Avatar Comment 3 by Wosret

I can't go back now. A while ago some fundies were putting up "pro-life" billboards in all the major cities in new brunswich, and fredericton billboard owners refused to rent them the billboards. So they made a pig stink, saying that it was taking away their free-speach. I said then what I'll say now. A private company has the right to rent to whoever they please, and refuse to rent to whomever they please. It is not a free-speach issue.

I stick to that opinion here.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 19:40:00 UTC | #138781

Storeo's Avatar Comment 4 by Storeo

I agree completely.

A private company doesn't (and shouldn't for that matter) have any obligations here.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 19:49:00 UTC | #138787

SPS's Avatar Comment 5 by SPS

As usual, it's profit before principle unless the latter threatens the former.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 19:53:00 UTC | #138791

82abhilash's Avatar Comment 6 by 82abhilash

I am amazed and impressed with my atheist peers. I bet if this was a Christian forum, everyone would be crying foul in unison.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 19:54:00 UTC | #138792

Double Bass Atheist's Avatar Comment 8 by Double Bass Atheist

Comment #146236 by 82abhilash

I am amazed and impressed with my atheist peers. I bet if this was a Christian forum, everyone would be crying foul in unison.

Oh, how right you are!!!

As most of us have experienced, I've even had non-confrontational posts deleted from theist sites.

Atheists are rational, logical, and even-handed. We go with the best available evidence (that's why we're atheists!), and that's why most posters here will not see this issue as big deal... private company, it can do what it wants.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:02:00 UTC | #138796

theantitheist's Avatar Comment 7 by theantitheist

82abhilash

We're able to way up both sides of an arguement because we are free to do so. We won't go to hell for failing to back up the side were told to.

The company has stated that they wish to avoid controversy and whilst I do not respect thier position they are a company and not an individual. They have to make practical decisions and at least they have given their reasons.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:02:00 UTC | #138795

Opisthokont's Avatar Comment 9 by Opisthokont

I am glad to see sense here: there is no insult to freedom of speech when any private entity declines to support another's point of view. We would applaud a publisher who refused to print works endorsing creationism. The fact that we are on the opposite side here does not give us any justification to change our stance.

Now, I object to billboards in general, but that is another battle.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:04:00 UTC | #138797

JD Cherry's Avatar Comment 10 by JD Cherry

Atheists are rational, logical, and even-handed.

Any libertarian or fiscal conservative would have arrived at the same conclusion, you know. I think it's the frequent self-congratulation of us atheists that turns people off more than anything.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:14:00 UTC | #138804

MelM's Avatar Comment 11 by MelM

It could also be that the company approves of dogma. Whatever, to withdraw the right to not support ideas is (borrowing from Hitchens) "making a rod for your own back" (as I recall). I cringe every time I hear someone use "censorship" the way it was used by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Atheists are getting our point across without coercion being used to violate freedom of speech--lets continue that way. Confusing the actions of government and the voluntary decisions of the people is a sure way to end freedom of speech.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:42:00 UTC | #138814

dragonfirematrix's Avatar Comment 12 by dragonfirematrix

This is the age of technology, or at least so we think now.

We need to create our own signs, magnetics for vehicles, bumper stickers, etc.

We should not wait for the authorities to recognize we non-believers. We should go around these religious authorities and create our own displays.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:46:00 UTC | #138815

MelM's Avatar Comment 13 by MelM

I believe there are web based outfits that will make bumper stickers. And, I'll bet it wouldn't take long to have some "Beware of Dogma" buttons made. etc, etc.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:54:00 UTC | #138817

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 14 by Enlightenme..

I'll add a pat on the back to early posters in this thread.

But let's not count chickens - the thread could just as well have devolved as evolved, partly due to the fact that a lot of us treat these comment sections as a forum ;)

^: "I believe there are web based outfits that will make bumper stickers. And, I'll bet it wouldn't take long to have some "Beware of Dogma" buttons made. etc, etc."
Tch tch, bloomin' capitalism eh - principles out the window.
Root of all evil isn't it!

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 20:59:00 UTC | #138819

PsyPro's Avatar Comment 15 by PsyPro

Just so we are clear about what is being said here:

A private:

employer may refuse to hire someone because he or she is an atheist, a woman, a member of a racial minority (or majority) group, ...

landlord may refuse to rent to someone because her or she is...

restaurant owner may refuse to serve...

bar owner ...

...

billboard owner ...

I just want to be sure.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 21:10:00 UTC | #138820

fontor's Avatar Comment 16 by fontor

4: A private company doesn't (and shouldn't for that matter) have any obligations here.

Sorry to wreck the party, but I'm not so sure. Can the billboard company approve or disallow /any/ message? Do they have /no/ obligation to the public?

Who gave them the permission to control the billboard business anyway? Can I make my own billboards and put them up? Probably not, in which case they have a monopoly. Is it right for them to control the 'broadcast' of ideas with impunity?

If anyone can put up a billboard, then there's no problem. It's like the web; no one else gets to tell you what to post on your blog. But if the right to broadcast is limited, and perhaps even government-sanctioned (as I suspect it is), then the company has the responsibility to ensure that decisions like these are non-arbitrary and in the public interest.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 21:12:00 UTC | #138821

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 17 by Enlightenme..

Psypro,
Indeed, a grey area,
This sort of stuff has come up in UK recently regarding Christian private landlords being able to refuse bed & breakfast accomodation to homosexuals (or even unmarried couples I believe if they choose) , but if they ran a hotel they would be obliged to obey the law.
I'm sorry I can't say further as I didn't pay that close attention.

Also other stuff about Catholic adoption agencies able to turn down same-sex couples 'on-principle'

That's getting off-topic though!

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 21:25:00 UTC | #138822

lordfenriz's Avatar Comment 18 by lordfenriz


A private company has the right to rent to whoever they please, and refuse to rent to whomever they please. It is not a free-speach issue.


If a private company decides not to rent to an individual because he is black, does this argument still hold?

No, it doesn't. I don't know about the UK, but here in the US a company can't discriminate against another group based upon race, religion, etc.

In other words, companies can't, in fact, do whatever they want in every situation.

I'll cede the point, of course, if there is a US lawyer on the forum who knows differently.

This quote is from legalzoom.com:


Both federal and state laws prohibit businesses from denying public accommodation to citizens on the basis of race, color, religion or national original. The Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the right to "full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin."

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 21:28:00 UTC | #138824

82abhilash's Avatar Comment 19 by 82abhilash

I am going out on a limb here, but I personally do not mind it if a private company discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, race, religion or gender. I would not mind as long as there is a free market in which there are other private companies that also compete that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, race, religion or gender.

What makes me think there will be? Private firms rely on talented individuals and are mostly indifferent to things that has no bearing on the talent of the individual. Which these kinds of discrimination truly are. Those that do will find themselves fighting for a smaller piece of a large talent pie and will struggle to keep up.

I will have a big problem if the government does that. But not private companies, unless of course the government is actively or passively endorsing such an activity.

I would rather that such private companies be out competed in a free market and boycotted by responsible citizens and driven to bankruptcy. That would be my ideal.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 21:38:00 UTC | #138829

Bigorra's Avatar Comment 20 by Bigorra

The billboard company doesn't have to rent the space to the FFRF if in their judgement it would cause harm to their business. Sorry if the space was their first choice, but it doesn't mean that CBS Outdoor Advertising is obligated to rent the space to them. FFRF has every right to make as much publicity as they can about CBS-OA's decision and call it wrong if they like. There are other billboard companies out there, such as Gannett that may rent them space. Then FFRF could freely post a link to information about CBS-OA's decision right on the billboard. The NY Times wouldn't be obligated to give the FFRF prime space in their newspaper if Ford or 3M was willing to pay more for it. Perhaps Amway (Grand Rapids is the home of Amway) was paying CBS-OA more money than FFRF was willing to pay, to put up their billboard, or others had threatened to pull their advertising when the billboard went up in other markets. While I support FFRF, I would never agree that a private company should have to do anything for them. And if you disagree with CBS-OA, don't buy products from those who advertise with them and let those companies know why you don't shop with them.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 21:59:00 UTC | #138836

Fire1974's Avatar Comment 21 by Fire1974

Opinion shall never be governed!

This law is absolute!

Feel free to disagree.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 22:16:00 UTC | #138841

Wosret's Avatar Comment 22 by Wosret

I am also not against companies discriminating arbitrarily. Refusing to do business for race, religion, age, weight, or even dress code. Unless they are receiving government support in some way, then they should be required to comply with government restrictions.

If some guy wants to refuse business, let them sabotage their success. I think that such a company can be destroyed without legal action, be boycots, as well as other companies willing to take your business.

I'm all for rights, and I think someone has the right to be a stupid bigotted prick if they want to be. As long as they aren't infinging on anyone else's rights.

This may not be the law, maybe such discrimination is illegal. Even so, I will say that I am against that, and still highly doubt that this instance could be construed as such an example of discrimination.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 22:22:00 UTC | #138843

Richard Morgan's Avatar Comment 23 by Richard Morgan

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This composition my be downloaded by:
1) Rationalists
and / or
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Musically gifted Lava Lizards.



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Tue, 18 Mar 2008 22:27:00 UTC | #138845

MelM's Avatar Comment 24 by MelM

The public interest be damned!
Be aware that while enforcing "obligations" in the "public interest", individual rights are being rejected item by item. Obligations and public interest are the complete opposite of individual rights.

The U.S. FCC is now considering a new law to control excessive violence on TV (CENSORSHIP) just as obscenity is now controlled (CENSORSHIP)--all, of course, in the public interest (an undefinable term). We may very shortly have conscript national service (an obligation) imposed in "the public interest". I have no desire to lead a life of unchosen obligations in the public interest; others can load up on all the obligations they want--I won't try to stop you. I abhor any idea of ever violating anyone's rights but, the public interest be damned.

The nutters are likely going to win.
Remember this. I think the chances are very good that within 2 or 3 decades, the nutters will be the ones deciding what the obligations are and what the public interest is--the more rods we hand them, the less they will have to do and the sooner power can be consolidated. At the very least, they will control every school and university that's publically funded and anything else operating with public obligations--such as the "air waves". I will hold out for every area of private independant action that I can; it'll be the last to sink and the last place from which to fight back.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 22:34:00 UTC | #138849

MelM's Avatar Comment 25 by MelM

If some company can be found that will not refuse because of religious convictions or for any other damn reason, I think a "Beware of Dogma" button would complement my A pin very well.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 22:42:00 UTC | #138850

Skeptic Pete's Avatar Comment 26 by Skeptic Pete

In my home town of Newcastle Australia there's a HUGE billboard with a very simple message...

"Jesus is the answer"

I just wish I had the balls to grab a can of spraypaint and write "If Jesus is the answer then you're asking the wrong questions".

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 23:07:00 UTC | #138855

mundusvultdecipi's Avatar Comment 27 by mundusvultdecipi

There are several subtle differences between the role of a publisher and a seller of billboard space however. Firstly, as regards taste and censorship a billboard is in a public place where it can easily be viewed by all, including children, as they go about their everyday lives unlike other media which have a watershed (tv), an age rating system (cinema) or a degree of voluntary access (just about everything else) as a result the regulatory framework in most jurisdictions differs for outdoor advertising displays.

As a result comparisons with book publishing are not necessarily helpful as it is usually recognised that taking money for advertising or display does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the message involved. A case CAN be made that those who provide a service open to all in the PUBLIC domain, (albeit for a fee) have to a limited extent diminished their ability to pick and choose. As a result many countries prohibit discrimination in provision of goods and services on the basis of certain criteria such as sexuality, religious belief, sex and so on and so forth.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 23:26:00 UTC | #138858

PsyPro's Avatar Comment 28 by PsyPro

mundusvultdecipi writes:


A case CAN be made that those who provide a service open to all in the PUBLIC domain, (albeit for a fee) have to a limited extent diminished their ability to pick and choose. As a result many countries prohibit discrimination in provision of goods and services on the basis of certain criteria such as sexuality, religious belief, sex and so on and so forth.


*Can* be made? How about HAS been made by the constitutions and statements of rights and freedoms by *ALL* of what we would regard as civilised countries?

Do we really have re-fight this every generation? I wear a t-shirt, purchased for me by my wife of over 30 years, that proudly proclaims: ``This is what a feminist looks like''---and I have NO desire to fight that battle again.

The idea that private corporations because of self-interest will correct all the evils of discrimination is just so .... ignorant, stupid and ahistorical that I cannot believe I see it pontificated it here. So much for the idea that atheists are from the high end of the intelligence pool.

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 23:47:00 UTC | #138860

mmurray's Avatar Comment 29 by mmurray

So you are OK with something like a backpacker hostel not allowing black people to stay. This happened recently in Australia in Alice Springs. As far as I know they were completely privately run.

Michael

Tue, 18 Mar 2008 23:51:00 UTC | #138861

mundusvultdecipi's Avatar Comment 30 by mundusvultdecipi

PsyPro - the reason I qualified my statement with CAN, as against HAS is that the US, Canada and most EU countries (for example) operate, in this regard, under very different regulatory and constitutional frameworks.

Additionally even where there is a broad degree of concensus in principle on this matter there is a wide variety of opinion as to what categories of expression and/or of consumers should be covered. Personally, I myself broadly agree with the sentiments you have expressed, am not convinced by your last statement though, I seldom find that people are worse off as a result of having honestly and intelligently debated an issue thoroughly no matter how self-evident the conclusion may be to some individuals.

Wed, 19 Mar 2008 00:09:00 UTC | #138867