Halifax says no to Atheist Bus Campaign slogan.

Yesterday we official received word from Sherry Kirwin, General Manager of Pattison Maritimes, that our banner is too “controversial” for Halifax Metro Transit.

We are aware of your message due to the existing media coverage you are experiencing.  We are not able to accept your message as it currently reads.

If you would like to submit an alternative message, we will submit that for approval.

If any potential ad message is deemed to be possibly controversial, we must advise the transit system.  They rarely refuse creative content, however have advised us that in this particular case, your message has already stirred up enough media exposure across the country to be deemed controversial.

All advertisements must meet acceptable community standards of good taste , quality and appearance . Furthermore, the ads will not be considered discriminatory, or objectionable to any race creed or moral standard“, explained Ms. Kirwin.

Metro Transit needs to understand the seriousness of the message they’re sending by rejecting an ad as benign as ours on the grounds that it doesn’t conform to their standards of “good taste, quality, and appearance.” Metro Transit has a history of running ads that are potentially objectionable, from Vagina Monologue ads that include the slogan “The Vaginas are coming” to ads for an anti-choice organization known as “Birthright.”

We’re very concerned about our right to free speech — I think a lot of Haligonians are expressing similar concerns, so we’re really eager to sit down and discuss this face to face with Metro Transit.

*Update* Today during an interview, Lori Patterson of Halifax Transit Public Affairs mentioned “[…]this groups ads were known to be or were already viewed to be inflammatory or controversial before they reached this market.” When asked why it would be viewed as “inflammatory” and mentioning that the ads and atheism certainly represents a significant part of the population, she replied stating “it could be viewed as inflammatory to a certain group in population and that is certainly what we’re hearing. We have to recognize that this is an older area of the country and people still have, you know, traditional views. […] All the calls we’ve been getting have been against us running them.”[1]

“Anything considered to be objectionable to any race, creed, or moral standard, you know, we have the right to.. or we can refuse. And I’ve not heard of.. You know, we haven’t been approached by religious groups to my knowledge before.”[2]

I encourage everyone that supports this campaign to call Ms. Patterson and Halifax Metro Transit and let them know what you think.  Ask her if she thinks that the people of Halifax are not capable of making their own decisions and coming to their own conclusions about advertisements.  Ask her if she has forgotten about our national anthem and charter of rights. Not only are we supposed to be the “true north, strong and free“, but our Canadian Charter of Rights under section 2) guarantee’s “b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; “.[3] Canada is known around the world to be a country of religious (or in this case non-religious) freedoms. Does Halifax really want to be labeled as the city that doesn’t allow alternative views?

Metro Transit
Halifax Regional Municipality
200 Ilsley Ave
Dartmouth N.S., B3B 1V1
(902) 490-4000
(902) 490-6609
(902) 476-5975
Lori Patterson
Public Affairs, Transit Services
(902) 490-6609
(902) 476-5975
Mayor Peter Kelly
1841 Argyle Street
P.O. Box 1749
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3J 3A5
(902) 490-4010

[1], [2] CBC Radio One – Halifax

[3] Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/


To discuss this please sign up for our forums and have your say. There’s already a thread started on this topic here.

Join the Halifax Atheist Bus Campaign group. This group is an extension of the Official Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign.

Author: Chris


16 thoughts on “Halifax says no to Atheist Bus Campaign slogan.”

  1. This is just plain dishonesty and a double standard at work. Really, an ad can’t be objectionable to ANY moral standard?
    I geuss they can’t show any ads where women have their hair uncovered because it might offend a subsection of Muslims, right?

    What will happen to the money already raised for the Halifax campaign?

  2. “What will happen to the money already raised for the Halifax campaign?”

    Don’t count us out yet.
    We are still fighting.
    We have many interviews with the media over the next few days and we are placing many calls to anyone who will listen and even to those who don’t want to.

    We will not go down without a fight.

    We are also working on backup plans which we will be discussing over the next few days with the rest of the group.

    Have a little faith in us. 😉

  3. This is so pathetic yet typical. How many thousands of religious ads have the bus companies run? Anti-abortion ads are okay but god forbid an Atheist ad! I’m going to donate more money to help you out because this is complete nonsense and hypocrisy at its finest.

  4. “This is just plain dishonesty and a double standard at work. Really, an ad can’t be objectionable to ANY moral standard?”

    My thinking exactly, I hold anti-consumerist morals, adds selling products piss me off, now they can’t have any adds like that right?

    Or is the anti-consumerist movement to small compared to various religions?

    I have a feeling they make these rules not allow anything, and then when they want to do something they ignore them, giving them supreme authority.

    Why do they allow religious adds that say all us atheists are wrong, but not allow adds that say that the religious are wrong?

    I don’t know,if they try to pull that s*** in Toronto I will be protesting, too long have rational, secular people not been allowed to voice our oppinions

  5. It is a restriction of our freedom of speech. Religious people may be offended? Come on religious ones, your beliefs cannot be so fragile as to crumble at an opposing view…or are they?

  6. Freedom of speech means tolerating (not agreeing with) speech and views you disagree with!
    As Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!”.
    Our right to free speech is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms!
    Our right to free speech is grouped separately, above and distinct from other rights as one of the “Fundamental Freedoms” as described in the Charter as “2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;”

    We need to take them to court right away so they get the message loud and clear!

  7. That could be one response to this. If they won’t run the atheist bus ads due to them offending a subsection of the population, people can make damn sure they know we’re unhappy about other ads they’re running. We’d find out real quick whether that’s the ‘real’ reason they won’t run an ad.

  8. Would Halifax Transit run an ad from a church group that featured a Bible verse? Would this be deemed acceptable simply because those that hold “traditional values” are still the majority?

    What exactly is so inflammatory about saying “There’s probably no god”, anyway? Is denying something for which there is no evidence really inflammatory? Just because some people don’t want to hear it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And it certainly doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to say it, and to be allowed the same privileges as church groups that freely advertise in our cities.

  9. This is a tough one in the Maritimes. Being from here, I know that this would be a poor sell here, like it or lump it. I would go with “Live Life Beyond Belief” here and I think that would have the effect of stirring up dialogue without causing the hard feelings that would be caused by the current slogan. Quite frankly, no one would ride the buses here with that on them, again, like it or not.

  10. You guys are upset because Halifax Metro Transit doesn’t want to run your ad – why wouldn’t you publish my comment yesterday? Is it just because I was coming from a theistic point of view? What about free speech? By and large I’ve found that humanists and atheists only favour free speech if you agree with them … sad isn’t it?

  11. Josh, I agree, at the very least this is a tyranny of the majority.

    They are no letting the adds run because it isn’t a popular view in their area. I assume that if their area was full of racists they would pull any adds the racists deemed against their views.

    Like I said tyranny of the majority, they won’t let the minority voice their opinion.

  12. I suggest we get someone to:
    approach KISS to see if any advertising can be done at their Halifax concert,
    through a banner on stage, or run across the stage with it

  13. The right to free speech isn’t trumped by some right to have your feelings protected. As Carlos Mencia says… “If your pussy hurts, get some vagisil.”

    If they’re so strong in their faith, can’t they pray that god will make the ink invisible as soon as it is put on the buses? Surely that is easier than flooding the earth, wiping out entire civilizations, talking 600 year old men into building boats, rescuing one person (out of hundreds of thousands of people) from a tsunami or providing miracle cures to 1/5,000,000 followers.

  14. Darren MacDougall Says: “This is a tough one in the Maritimes. Being from here, I know that this would be a poor sell here, like it or lump it.”

    A ‘poor sell’ means only that the campaign loses its money when the campaign runs. It is insufficient reason, and is contrary to the right to free thought written into the Canadian Charter, to discriminate against the ad, since free thought ans expression a federal right (where they do not, for example, promulgate a proven falsehood (to the level required by a court of law)). There’s no right to NOT have one’s feelings upset. These cases are known as ‘eggshell’ cases in the legal community (i.e. one feels one has to walk around these people as if one is on eggshells). Laws are not made for the eggshell cases, nor simply because someone or two or three take offence. The argument that “it’s offensive to me” is, at best, an unequal, biased, and, therefore, discriminatory position.

    We’re not talking about exposed genitals, here. For this, see how a well known clothing chain, American Apparel, is upholding Canadian rights to free speech and artistic expression, at about the same time the Atheist Bus campaign started: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/01/13/bc-american-apparel-butt.html

    This whole Halifax issue speaks to the simple question often noted by Richard Dawkins: “How comes religion gets a ‘free ride’?”

    At least UCC and the Trinitarian Bible Society (interview with Ariane Sherine: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7875834.stm) are prepared to accept, even encourage, open debate of both sides of the issue, even if it means they might lose the debate. It’s necessart to hear both sides, otherwise one ends up in the Orwellian situation of “1984,” where debate is not possible because the words do not exist or cannot otherwise be heard (see the lack of debate of dissent in other countries). Again, see Voltaire.

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