Saturday, December 7, 2013


Of course they put mayonnaise on their
burgers, so the similarities end there.
The atheist group, Center for Inquiry Canada, have been denied billboard space in Vancouver and, being Canadian, are politely ootraged aboot it. After all, Canada, despite being under the iron-fisted rule of the Dread Queen Elizabeth, scourge of the Falklands, and cuddler of Corgis, is in fact a free country with all kinds of freedom of speech guarantees. They're like us, but with without all the murder. So why was their billboard rejected? All the CFI was trying to do was tell religious people that their word view is based on lies and superstitious delusions and that when we die we simply blink into nothingness and-

-oh...wait, no. No, they didn't. In fact, unlike some admittedly dick moves by atheist groups in the past, CFI's billboard was pretty innocuous. Here, take a look:
Wow, that Jenn is pretty wise. I think I'll base my life around her teachings
and then encourage others to do so as well. Violently, if necessary. 
Above: Yikes. Take that, uh,
victims of chattel slavery...
See? That's not so bad, right? They're just saying that maybe instead of sitting around waiting for divine intervention, people should, you know, get up off their asses and do something. Actually, it kind of sounds like the widely accepted (but not actually biblical) expression: 'God helps those who helps themselves.' It's a far cry from some of the downright insulting messages other atheist groups (see left) have been putting out there and that was sort of the point.

Try Atheism: All the smug certainty about
the unknowable, but with zero deities!
"When we designed the ads, we went out of our way to make them as soft as we could. Our purpose is to find those people out there who think the same way we do but don't know there's an organization that will support their views. It's like any other advertising campaign: we're looking for people who are interested in our message and our product."

and cheerleader for the godless void

Ok, so cynical comparisons to selling Vancouverians (Vancouverites?) on atheism like it's car insurance or a new phone carrier aside, O'Brien and the CFI have every right to be upset. B.C. law (as in British Columbia, not like Hammurabi's Code, although B.C. Law would make an excellent police procedural) protects against discrimination based on religion or in this case absence thereof. 
In the B.C. criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet
equally important groups: the guy who accuses the someone of stealing a goat, and
the rabble who stone the accused to death without a trial. These are their stories.
A woman's right to choose?
Clearly you hate adorable babies...
The advertising company who owns the billboards, Pattison Outdoor, has offered no explanation for the rejection, so we're left to wonder why they would refuse to put up CFI's signs. Don't they like money? O'Brien points out that the advertising company in question, Pattison Outdoor, had no problem putting anti-abortion ads outside hospitals in Halifax that offer abortions, so there's a chance, just a chance that the decision to reject CFI's ad was maybe a little religiously motivated. Maybe (ok, definitely).

Usually in disputes like this, that is, atheists vs. believers in some stupid squabble over ad space (surprisingly, it happens a lot), both sides come off as tremendous asshats, but this time, I'm going to have to go with the godless heathens. 
"Suck on it, Churchy McGodington!"
-Noted Atheist Richard Dawkins
What? Voltaire says a lot of things...
Look, it's not that I find their 'the universe is an indifferent, chaotic void' argument any more convincing or provable then the religiously inclined's insistence that a divine, cosmic Santa Claus is out there, intervening on the behalf of whichever football team's fans pray the loudest. It's just that they totally have every right to say it. Sure the ad's a little snarky, but like Voltaire says: I'll defend to the death their right to snark.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Canada does not have anything like our freedom of speech guarantees. For example, if you publicly deny the holocaust in print in Canada, you go to jail. I will leave it up to you to decide if that is a good or bad thing.

    On the other hand, as far as I know this does not apply to Atheism (note that CFI aren't facing legal charges or anything) so I'm sure that has nothing to do with their relative freedom of speech or lack thereof.

    As for B.C. Law, I give you Caveman CSI: