Persecution? Prove it.

The Christian Right are fond of claiming to be persecuted. At times, it appears to be their main hobby.

One of their number, Archbishop Cranmer, is now complaining he’s being “persecuted” by the advertising standards authority. He is an opponent of lifting the ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

One of the ads he ran on his website for the “Coalition for Marriage” (C4M) showed multiple pics of mixed-sex couples having weddings, and the key line from it was “70% of people say keep marriage as it is”.

24 people have complained about this ad.

The ASA would like Archbishop Cranmer to substantiate that claim, and have given him notice that he must do so by 21st May:

The C4M ads are offensive and homophobic. While giving the nasty views of a tiny minority, they try to imply that theirs is the broad majority view.

Against same-sex marriage? Imagine how stupid you're going to look in 40 years

Adverts are strictly regulated. Archbishop Cranmer himself is free to write as offensively as he likes on his own blog, express his homophobic views as strongly as he likes, and even to complain that he is NOT HOMOPHOBIC and he resents his homophobic views being described as such.

Rather confusedly, David Rattigan defends Archbishop Cranmer’s feelings of persecution with:

When is this constant drive at censoring one’s political and religious opponents going to end? Increasingly, the knee-jerk reaction to any offensive or objectionable view is not to respond with reasoned argument, but to complain to some authority and get the other side shut down. Are we so insecure in our claims that the only way we can counter critics is to force them into silence?

I have problems with C4M. I have problems with their poll, which their ad says found that “70% of people say keep marriage as it is.” But I would rather give a reasoned response to their claims (stay tuned for that!) than simply shut them up.

Assuming that the Coalition for Marriage can prove their offensive and objectionable claims are grounded in fact (which I doubt, but granting that for the sake of argument), the complainants have done C4M a big favour by referring their ads to the ASA: it’s entirely possible that the ASA will confirm that some or even all of them are legal advertising for the gay marriage ban. Coalition for Marriage will only be “forced into silence” if the ASA discovers that all of the C4M advertising material is factually misleading.

The ASA is required to follow up complaints about harmful, misleading and offensive advertising.

Archbishop Cranmer may recall that about six years ago the Gay Police Association paid for an advert which highlighted religiously-inspired homophobic hate crimes. The Evangelical Alliance, Christian Watch, the Trinitarian Bible Society, The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and the Bible Theology Ministries made formal complaints, and the ASA then “persecuted” the Gay Police Association just as they are “persecuting” Archbishop Cranmer now: which is to say, they sent a formal legal demand that the GPA prove the assertions that had been made in the ad.

Dear egoistical little homophobic Christians:

No, being required to abide by the law of the land is not “persecution”.

Prove the claims your advert makes in a sensible and reasoned way, to the advertising authority which is bound to investigate reports of false advertsing, and then you can continue to display the advert. Or if you cannot prove your “factual” claims to the satisfaction of a neutral authority, you shouldn’t be advertising them, should you?

And get over yourself, do.

Much love.

Update or as Unity at Liberal Conspiracy puts it:

“Where ‘persecution’ once meant getting nailed to a tree or tossed into an arena to fight for your life, it now means nothing more than ‘How dare you treat us the same as everyone else, you inconsiderate bunch of bastards.’”

Update, 15th May: The Advertising Standards Authority have responded, explaining:

One of the bloggers on whose blog the ads appeared has raised concerns about us contacting him as part of our investigation. We have long found it useful to ask, in confidence, publishers of ads subject to ‘offence’ complaints for their views, because they can give us a valuable insight into whether or not their readers are likely to be offended. They are not the subject of our investigation, as we have made clear to them in this case, and they are not compelled to respond.

But Archbishop Cranmer is still affronted at the idea that the ASA should presume to treat him just like anyone else. (Also, of course, having made such a fuss about 24 people who complained, actually emailed the ASA and complained, as if they thought they had some kind of right to complain… he obviously can’t back down and admit humbly he made a silly mistake.)

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