Thursday, February 05, 2009

"You Can Be Good Without God" Bus Campaign

I have found another potential candidate for next year's list of Anti-Atheist Bigotry in 2009. This one might not appear on the final list because it happened in Canada, but it certainly qualifies on other grounds.

The Friendly Atheist has pointed me to an article about a group that wants to put an advertisement on the side of a bus that says, "You can be good without God."

This proposal has been rejected on the grounds that

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.

See: Friendly Atheist The Most Offensive Atheist Bus Ad Yet

Okay, imagine this.

A Jewish organization wishes to post a sign on the side of busses that say, "A Jew can still be a good person."

And the Board decides to reject this because some people in society might find it offensive.

That’s the claim. That there are people in the community who hate the message that, “"A Jew can be a good person," and for the sake of protecting their sensitivities the Board has decided to reject having such a message posted on its busses.

This opens up an interesting series of questions.

What type of person is it who would be offended by a message like, "A Jew can be a good person"? Whose sensitivities would the Board be trying to protect by disallowing such a message? Would there, perhaps, be some name we can give to people who would be outraged by the claim, "A Jew can be a good person?"

What type of Board is it that would be so concerned with protecting whatever group of people who would be outraged by the message, "A Jew can be a good person?"

One of the arguments that I have heard is that bus drivers cannot choose what busses to drive, nor can passengers choose what busses to get on. So, if we allow a sign that says, "A Jew can be a good person," a driver who is outraged by such a thought might end up being assigned to a bus that has that message. Or a potential passenger who is outraged by the very thought that a Jew can be a good person might find himself waiting at a bus stop and discover that he must now board a bus that says, "A Jew can be a good person."

Whatever we do, we must not allow any situation to develop where those citizens would actually be forced to drive or ride on a bus that carries such a message. The sensitivities of those who are outraged by the thought that a Jew can be a good person must be respected. For that reason, no such bus could carry such a message.

It appears that there is a Board in Nova Scotia that believes that this type of prohibition, somehow, is just what we need to fight discrimination and prejudice. In a conflict between the interests of Jews who wish to claim, "A Jew can be a good person," and of those who would be outraged by such a message, the Board, in the name of tolerance, declares that it must side with those who are outraged by such a message.

Or, similarly, between those who wish to claim that an Atheist can be a good person (or, alternatively, you can be good without God) and those who are outraged by the thought of anybody ever making such a claim.

Oh, I want to let you know the name of the company that thinks that it is important to protect these types of sensitivies. Pattison Maritimes. Perhaps a government near you is doing business with this organization.


Mikayla Starstuff said...

I could only see the message "A Jew can be a good person" as offensive if I questioned the motive of the speaker. I mean, is there any reason why a Jew wouldn't be likely to be a good person?

I think the message does work better with athests, as in "An atheist can be a good person" since there are so many out there, unfortunately, who have been told that to not believe in god one must be vile and evil.

anton said...

A contributor to the problem can be found in our Bill of Rights.

". . . the Canadian Nation is founded on the principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God!"

And that was a document created in 1982. Try and do something in Canada that confronts that principle.

Anonymous said...

"A Jew can be a good person" is equivalent to "An atheist can be a good person".

The way the slogan is worded, "You can be good without god", it is not a mere statement of fact, but it adresses the reader ("You") and it implies a world without god (imaginable or even real) - two fine points that make it different from "A Jew can be a good person", a statement which neither applies to a Christian reader, nor does it imply any world different from the mainstream Christian perspective.

I would have worded it
"A person can be good without belief in god" in order to not appear to proselytize and to not offend, but open minds.

This has to be done one step at a time, I am afraid.

Jackie said...

There is a huge difference in the two statements "A Jew can still be a good person" and "A Jew can be a good person". You started with one statement and changed it. I think very few in Canada or elsewhere would disagree with the second. I would hope that everyone would be offended by the first.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Well I suppose that we could become somewhat Jesuitical and ask what exactly do you mean by "good". But I would adhere to the proposition that you really do need a God to formulate a moral life. Morality is codified in our laws and all flow from the common consensus of the people. To say that morality flows from God means that morality would be absolute and we can see an action in one society that is tolerated but in another it is not. For example, stoning a woman for adultery in a Muslim country is frowned upon in western culture. Clearly, if there is a an absolute, all societies and cultures would be together on this. The same goes for the "Thou shall not kill" commandment. There are more loopholes in that little "law" than in Swiss Cheese.