So, what do you do if you see an ad promoting safe sex? Not much, you say? OK then, what if the safe sex being promoted is a bit icky?
Well, if you’re Wendy Francis from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), and the ickiness is in the form of consensual, adult man-love, you instigate a co-ordinated campaign to pressure the ad company into pulling the ads from public display. And then you lie about it.
You may remember Wendy as the Family First candidate who, in August 2010, tweeted this:
Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse.
Anyway, you can probably now imagine her horror when she stumbled across this bus shelter ad.
Wow… they’re practically rimming.
John and Jane Average, overwhelmed by a moral outrage appropriate for such public fornication, clutched their pearls, grabbed their smelling salts, and proceeded to overwhelm Adshel with complaints. There were whispers of involvement by the ACL, but that rumour was quashed, first by Wendy, and then by Adshel:
All complaints were made by individual members of the public; none were identified as stemming from the Australian Christian Lobby.
Well, except for all the ones that did. You see, later in the day, Wendy admitted that the complaints had been co-ordinated by the ACL. I guess lying is all in a day’s work, if that work is the Lord’s.
Wendy’s admission, coupled with a lightning-fast social networking backlash, prompted an abrupt about-face from Adshel:
Following ACL Queensland director Wendy Francis’ acknowledgement that the complaints received by Adshel, Brisbane City Council and the Advertising Standards Bureau regarding QAHC’s campaign have been orchestrated by the Australian Christian Lobby, Adshel is reinstating the ‘Rip and Roll’ campaign.
That’s great, but there are a few troubling aspects of this whole saga:
1 – The ability to whinge is not an argument
The decision to withdraw the ads (and the subsequent reinstatement) should always have been based on the merits of the complaints received, not the volume. Presumably Adshel wouldn’t pull an ad for toilet paper simply because 10,000 people objected to Labrador puppies. It seems that they would, however, pull the “Rip and Roll” ads back down if they received the same number of complaints again, this time from individual members of the public.
The only thing stopping that from happening is that the campaign is due to finish in two days. Yes, that’s right… Adshel went to all this trouble for a campaign that was coming down in two days anyway.
2 – Disguising bigotry as concern isn’t an argument either
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on Wendy. After all, she was only thinking of the children:
“I think people would be supportive of the message [the ad] is promoting but I don’t think … people want safe-sex messaging placed on bus shelters where schoolchildren wait for the bus. The message is OK, the placement of the message is not OK.”
Oh, and she also said this:
They show two young homosexual men in some sort of act of foreplay.
Hugging is foreplay? Well… I guess it could be counted as foreplay… in the same way as looking at each other, or brushing your teeth.
What else you got, Wendy?
It’s talking about a sexual act and I don’t think that’s appropriate for the general public. If something’s not allowed in a children’s timeslot on TV, I don’t think you should put it on a billboard or where children are waiting for the school bus.
Yes, no doubt some children will see the ads, but I think the benefits of a few less people getting AIDS might outweigh the awkwardness a parent feels when asked “Mummy, why are those two men hugging?”. On the plus side, Wendy, it will give you another opportunity to yell “BECAUSE THEY ARE EVIL!”. So… you know… swings and roundabouts…
3 – Did someone say Barbara Streisand?
Speaking of swings and roundabouts, thanks to the Streisand effect, Wendy has given the issue more attention than the “Rip and Roll” people could have ever imagined.
4 – Hypocrisy, anyone?
If you’re worried about your children seeing the ad, Wendy, you could always throw them a bible. There, they will find such child-friendly topics as murder, incest, and genocide, all of which are routinely featured on children’s TV.
Fortunately for your child, however, none are as disgusting as two men hugging.