New Zealand has bigots too

I actually thought this wouldn’t happen in good old New Zealand. We are a tolerant lot and seem quite happy with our largely secular society. But there’s always some die-hards wanting to spoil it, isn’t there?

This press release from the NZ Atheist Bus Campaign describes how the NZ Bus company has reversed their approval of the adverts because of public complaints.

The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign, which late last year raised in excess of $20,000 from public donations, has met a set back in their plans. Nationwide bus company NZ Bus, who had tentatively approved the campaign’s ads on buses in major city centres, have now rejected them.

NZ Bus stated that they have received a number of complaints from the public about the proposed ads, which read “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Spokesperson for the Atheist Bus Campaign Simon Fisher says “It’s concerning that peaceful atheist messages are not allowed on buses while religious messages are often seen on buses and in public. Messages of atheism are rare in New Zealand and we aim to raise awareness for the one-third of New Zealanders who are unconvinced by the claims of religion.”

Organisers of the Campaign tried to reach a resolution with NZ Bus, and later attempted mediation sessions through the Human Rights Commission. NZ Bus refused to participate in these mediation sessions. Because they are refusing to discuss the matter and reach an agreement, the organisers of the Campaign are now investigating the possibility of taking this case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Simon Fisher says “we’re disappointed at the response from NZ Bus and plan to look at options going forward. We owe it to the thousands of Kiwis who have supported this campaign with donations and messages of support.”

Advertisements with identical wording ran in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Spain. Similar campaigns also ran successfully in Croatia, Finland, Holland, Italy, America and across the Tasman in Australia.

“We are gravely concerned that in New Zealand we’re unable to present an atheistic message, showing that we do not have the same practical freedom of expression as in other first world countries. It highlights why this campaign is so necessary.” said spokesperson Simon Fisher.

The Campaign will continue to accept donations for advertising, see http://www.nogod.org.nz for further details.

Why don’t these complainants identify themselves? Let us hear their arguments. A complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal might provide us that opportunity.

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14 responses to “New Zealand has bigots too

  1. Sorry to hear this, Ken.
    Whilst I’m obviously not going to contribute any $$ to the campaign, I’d argue for their right for it to go forward.

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  2. Me too. Even though I thought the campaign a little naff I see no reason to stifle it. Actually, I think that this kind of publicity may be more effective than the entire campaign as it will show the uglier side of religious dogma.

    (welcome back Dale, looking forward to an update on your trip)

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  3. Pingback: fruitful faith » nz bus, etc…

  4. I think it’s a bit silly pulling the adverts. If anything the wording ought to have been more robust, forward and jocular as I would have though would better suit NZ.

    I’d like to think that New Zealand companies aren’t so timid that a small vocal minority is enough to make them “jump” as appears to be the case here.

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  5. As you say Grant, the NZ public is pretty easy going (think Tui ads or Nude days), these ads are intended to provoke debate and it’s an offence against free speech to have them pulled.

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  6. Bit of link love for Frank, for those who haven’t see his post yet…

    http://bit.ly/cOgi54

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  7. It seems some people are terrified of the debate.

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  8. It’s in the mainstream media anyway, so it’s getting attention all the same:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3368326/No-God-bus-campaign-stalled

    You could argue that it’s getting more attention through the bus company backing out than if they went ahead…

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  9. Yes, Brian Edwards commented:

    “I take heart from the sure and certain fact that nothing can draw more attention to a commercial than banning it.”

    http://bit.ly/cfXtHd

    Seems to be a silly reaction on the opponents part. They have done this elsewhere, brought public attention to the ads before they go up and generally the bus companies have conceded in the end anyway.

    You think it would be more sensible for these people to hold their tongue.

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  10. Or was it undercover atheists complaining in order to get the ads withheld and thus create the controversy that gets it the publicity…

    Probably not. ;)

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  11. I like it Frank

    Perhaps we have our sleepers in the catholic Church. Lyndsay Freer is one of ours (http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/stories/2010/02/23/1247f2a8daf6)

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  12. It would make it far too easy if I could pass all ludicrous comments from Christians off as sleeper atheists. Then I’d be able to pass off Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, Brian Tamaki… and the list goes on, as yours ;)

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  13. Can we make George W. Bush one of yours? A sleeper Christian former President would be the height of “undercover” :D

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  14. Pingback: Why Christians oppose the atheist bus campaign | Radical Atheist

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