The current paranoid climate about Christianity is continuing:
Phones4U has been criticised by the ad watchdog for “mocking and belittling” Christianity in a national press campaign that featured a winking Jesus and the headline “miraculous deals”.
The ad featured an illustration of Jesus Christ grinning broadly and winking with an image of the Sacred Heart on his chest, alongside the headline, “Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones”. It was created by Adam & Eve. Media was planned by the7stars.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ad after 98 people objected and claimed it was offensive to the Christian faith because of the imagery used, the use of the word “miraculous” and because it was published during the Easter period.
Phones4U defended itself by saying the intention of the ad, which ran in the Metro, was to portray a light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity.
The phone company issued an apology to all those who complained and withdrew the ads.
The ASA acknowledged that the ads were designed to be light-hearted and humorous, but ruled the ad was “mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs”.
The watchdog said the ad was disrespectful to the Christian faith and likely to cause serious offence and as a result has banned the phone company from running the campaign again.
So 98 people had enough time to burn to be offended and do something about it? The ad is gently humorous, it doesn’t even resort to mockery. It’s abundantly clear it doesn’t ‘belittle’ Christian beliefs, but even if it did – who cares? Since when should Christianity or any of its icons have legal immunity from being lampooned? This is crap of the highest order, and a display of unbelievable cowardice by the ASA. We have laws to prevent incitement of religious hatred, which is correct – we don’t and should not have any laws to protect anyone from being offended.
(via British Humanist Association)
And yet the Advertising Standards Agency banned this ad as ‘potentially offensive to Catholics’:
The advertisement for Antonio Federici ice cream shows two priests who appear to be on the verge of kissing, with the tag line “We Believe in Salivation”. On the basis of six complaints, the ASA has banned the advertisement as potentially “offensive to Catholics”. This is the second advertisement from the firm that the ASA has banned. A previous one showed a pregnant nun eating the ice cream with the tag: “Immaculately conceived”.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “It seems our celebrations about the end of the blasphemy law were premature. The Advertising Standards Agency – which is elected by no-one and seems to be answerable to no-one – has reinstated the law unilaterally. Anyone who has seen the Antonio Federici ads knows that they are mildly humorous, in no way threatening, abusive or insulting. It is entirely wrong that these advertisements have been banned by such an unaccountable body, which needs to be reined in.”
Aside from the clear homophobia, I want to comment on the question of offence. It’s right that the National Secular Society should be worried about blasphemy being reintroduced into Britain by the back door, but it’s only a lesser function of the greater question about whether anyone in the country should be protected from offence. The ASA themselves said:
We noted the ad used the text “We Believe in Salivation” as a theme to refer to the taste of the product and to the image of the priests, who were portrayed in a seductive pose as if they were about to kiss passionately. We considered the portrayal of the two priests in a sexualised manner was likely to be interpreted as mocking the beliefs of Roman Catholics and was therefore likely to cause serious offence to some readers. We concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 11) clause 5.1 (Decency).
Interesting that the ASA should choose, in bending over backwards (ahem) not to offend the sensibilities of SIX THEISTS, to legitimise homophobia. Something has gone horribly wrong in this society when religious homophobes should have their bigotry protected from offence - not discrimination, not violence but merely from gentle mockery. Offence doesn’t involved discrimination – protecting from offence doesn’t involve protection from incitement to hatred. Why on earth should there be any system in place in this country which allows for protection from ideas or images people (in this case SIX) just don’t like, even though they aren’t harmed by them in any way? The majority of Catholics after all don’t appear to have been remotely bothered.