So, there’s this advert that’s run in at least one, possibly more Canadian newspapers. I’m not interested in posting the advert, but I’ll link to an article that talks about it. Understandably, a lot of people are Very Upset about this advert. In much the same way that many people (as my friend Melistress can talk about) are upset about the recent image that went around of a billboard indicating that religion is like a penis, and you wouldn’t want either shoved down your child’s throat. Well, not *exactly* like that, but the reactions are similar.
In both cases, there are people who are saying “those sorts of things should not be allowed to be printed/publicised”. And they’re wrong. I’m going to come back to this every time it comes up, because, you see, that’s what freedom of speech and/or expression is. The people who paid for the anti-gay advert in the National Post got what they paid for. They got attention. And every time you post that image or the advert on facebook or on your blog, they get more attention. Sure, it might be negative attention, but it’s attention. The people who mount these ‘shock campaigns’ are very, very good at what they do. Because the people who are horribly offended by them are very vocal, and the people who are in support of them are also very vocal. And the majority of people say what they think quietly, and behind closed doors, and they don’t want to rock the boat.
But. Aside from that. Here is the issue with this particular advert:
A lobbyist group (I am assuming a right-wing lobbyist group) paid a lot of money to someone to design that advert, and then they paid a lot of money to the newspaper to run it. Some newspapers apparently, reportedly, declined to run the advert. At least one has not. Which, I think, is unfortunate. I think it is intriguing how we seem to think, and indeed that we claim over and over, that the media is supposed to be impartial. It seems to me that there is absolutely nothing impartial about the media, and I think there probably oughtn’t be. Why? Because it is created by the people, for the people. If you will. And if we don’t teach one another to be critical thinkers and to listen to many views and to suss out as many facts for ourselves as we can, I think we are in a very dangerous place indeed.
But really, what we have here is 1) capitalism/consumerism in motion. Business/Interest A wanted their point of view to appear in a newspaper. They paid for that privilege, and they have the right to say whatever they want, and the newspaper has the right to print whatever they want as long as it is not actively advocating harm to others, etc., etc., (I won’t get in to the discussion here about whether teaching children to be homophobic is harming people); and 2) free speech in motion.
You know I don’t like the advert, and that I don’t agree with it. And I would gladly, if I had the money, or the wherewithal to collect enough money, design and print, in that newspaper, a very different sort of advert. So if you hear of a group who is doing that, I’d like to donate money to them. I’ve been told that the newspaper in question would not run an advert advocating acceptance, and I’m not sure I believe that, and don’t have the money to try, so we’ll just have to have a difference of opinion there. But, in the end, so what? If I did have the money, I could just as easily run an advert advocating acceptance in *any other newspaper in the country*. I could run an advert in *all* of the other newspapers, if I had the money. Which I don’t. So the point is moot.
And I can speak out against the point of view expressed in that advert, and I do, and often, to anyone who will listen. I believe that in this country and in this environment, if you have enough money, you can pretty much pay anyone to do pretty much anything. Until you piss someone off, I guess. And if you combine money with political will with moneyed backers with [pick your cause], you’ll be able to do EVEN MORE STUFF. Just THINK of all of the people I could piss off if I had an endless currency pool.
Okay, but seriously. That isn’t even the point. The point is this. These things *should* be permitted to be published and publicised. You might not like it, but if the newspaper wants to run it, they get to. And if the group who paid for it wants to print it in every paper in the country, they get to. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. It’s a *good* thing this paper was able to or chose to print this advert. Not because the message was good or right or moral, but because THAT IS THE PRICE WE PAY FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. No, I’m not saying don’t speak out against what you disagree with. What I am saying is that I will congratulate the newspaper that printed it for doing so, and will encourage them to do so again.