Advert decision appealed by bigots on grounds of popularity
You wouldn’t think it possible that anyone could object to the introduction of a policy on the grounds that some people might support it, but that’s the view of Christian charity and kneejerking busybodies The Core Issues Trust. They object to the rejection of their offensive bus advert (below) on the grounds that Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, may have hoped to win votes from the ban. Um, yeah.
To be fair to them (and this does cause me a great deal of pain, seeing that they are strongly into the “gay cure” therapy that’s even being rejected by fellow conservative wingnuts), it does appear that Boris attempted to make political capital out of the decision in a rather crude way. It’s also possible that he acted improperly in interfering with the decision-making process. So Boris is still a self-serving prat, but even stopped clocks can be right twice a day.
What makes this appeal futile for all purposes other than publicity and stirring up the tired old “persecuted Christians” narrative is that whatever the decision, Transport for London will still have the right to refuse the advert, and almost certainly will on the very reasonable grounds of offensiveness and discrimination against a protected characteristic. This advert, targeted at gay people, simply asserts that sexuality is chosen, implying that anyone who chooses the “wrong” option should not expect to be treated with dignity.
At this point, you can just imagine the bigots chiming in and screaming that it’s not fair, because “they” (i.e. Stonewall) got to put their advert up. In fact, you don’t need to imagine it, because here’s Andrea Minichiello Williams, never short of a few words:
In a mature democracy both sides of a debate should be heard but it seems that Boris Johnson, Transport for London and Stonewall are intent to shut down the Christian side of the debate by fair means or foul.
Do you see where she’s going wrong here? Well, there’s the implication of a massive conspiracy between BoJo, TfL and Stonewall – I’m dying to know what secret bunker they meet in – as well as the idea that there’s a debate, as opposed to a few fanatics peddling “cure” treatments which are not only unproven (to be generous) but actively damaging, and the prejudging of the case before the court right now. But that’s not all. Have a look at Stonewall’s advert:
The observant among you may have noticed a significant difference between this and the Core Issues Trust effort. Stonewall’s advert essentially says “This is just who we are, stop oppressing us” while the response amounts to “No, because you chose to be like that, so stop making such a fuss”, with a side order of “degenerate, hellbound sodomites” served as a subtext. Really, there’s no comparison.
Nor is it possible to claim that the Core Issues Trust advert is equivalent because both are by (and addressing) protected groups, either a sexuality or a religion. In one case, it’s a simple statement of fact and a plea for tolerance. In the other, it’s an assertion that might best be described as controversial, directly aimed at another group and challenging its members’ self-identification. You don’t need me to tell you which is which.
Incidentally, I do wonder at the wisdom of any media strategy which identifies your own group as being inextricably linked with the intolerant bigotry addressed by the Stonewall advert, as Andrea Minichiello Williams appears to do. But it’s also odd that they seem to be implicitly admitting that bigotry isn’t as popular as the alternative with voters, or at least that bigots are less likely to be swayed by a cheap bus-related policy gimmick.
Soon, they’ll give up on the “Christian Majority” rhetoric altogether, and spend all their time calling for protection as an oppressed minority. It’s starting already. The emptiest vessels really do make the most noise.