Friday, 13 April 2012

On The Buses: All Aboard

Right, I'll be adding stories about Busgate - as no-one is calling it - as I find them.
That's if I don't die of boredom and/or smashing my head against the wall, first.
The Guardian alone has run seven already.
Typical, you wait ages for a story about mad Christians running adverts on London buses, then loads come along at once etc etc...
Does seem strange the way this of all gay news stories has blown up so big, though ironically I think it lends weight to those of us who think much of the equal marriage debate is a phoney war.

Update: There's much wailing and gnashing of Twitter teeth about a piece on The Guardian online - Anti-gay bus ads took their cue from Stonewall's misguided campaign.
I think the author, David Shariatmadari, is right to question the efficacy of Stonewall's "Some people are gay. Get over it!" campaign, which seems rather simplistic and self-serving; they were basically just adverts for Stonewall.
But he goes on to lapse into reactionary rhetoric of blaming the victims, and saying gay men have only got themselves to blame for any "backlash", a point (over) emphasised by how his blog has been headlined.
A relatively measured piece on the Telegraph online by Tom Chivers, published before the ads were pulled, also seemed to blame Stonewall for being "provocative", and warned against kicking up too much of a fuss and a ban lest it encourage the evangelical bigots. 
This week's Brendan O'Neill Mary Mary Quite Contrary Bobbins Award goes - once more - to Spiked's Brendan O'Neill also writing on The Telegraph online for 'The ‘bus advert storm’ confirms that Christians are now more progressive than gay rights activists'.
Yes dear.
The Red Tops and the pro-gay marriage Times and anti Mail only ran quite brief news stories [Update: Mail Comment pieces went up online later this afternoon, which I'll deal with tomorrow].
The Readers' Comments after the Mail's story soon dissolved into a massive bunfight -most entertaining if you've got a spare hour or three.
Few (progressive) voices have raised the issue of freedom of speech.
I've only seen comments from Melon Farmers, New Humanist and Index On Censorship.
[Update: Oops! "Neither Chris Bryant, the prominent gay Labour MP, nor Ben Summerskill, the director of the gay rights group Stonewall, wanted the advert to be pulled, both citing freedom of speech" The Guardian].
Though I can't see how paid-for advertising counts as "free" speech, and the point here is not that it's offensive, but that it makes a false claim.
And if you're going to hijack our public spaces for cash, is it too much to ask that you show some basic courtesy?
Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship told The Independent;
“There is an increasing rush at the moment by people demanding anything which they find unpleasant should be immediately banned, deleted or removed. We’re closing down any trace of controversy or debate within public discourse and that is extremely dangerous.”
I agree with that.
Perhaps it's time for a new campaign? "Some people are homophobic. Get over it!"

PS Enjoyed this demolition job explaining why the ad was "technically" a lousy ad from ABC Copywriting.

PPS In an act of monumental apolitical fuckwittery Pink Paper have headlined their piece 'Thanks Boris!' Sorry?! Thanks for what?

PPS And finally... the piece on all this I read last today was the most interesting, 'Conservative Christians are becoming more confident in the political arena - The anti-gay bus ads are the latest move by Christian groups hoping to replicate US politics, where religion is centre stage' Robert Booth, The Guardian.

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