Advertising Standards Authority persecutes His Grace
Apparently there have been a number of complaints about one of the advertisements His Grace carried on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage. He has been sent all manner of official papers, formal documentation and threatening notices which demand answers to sundry questions by a certain deadline. He is instructed by the ‘Investigations Executive’ of this inquisition to keep all this confidential.
However, Since His Grace does not dwell in Iran, North Korea, Soviet Russia, Communist China or Nazi Germany, but occupies a place in the cyber-ether suspended somewhere between purgatory and paradise, he is minded to ignore that request. Who do these people think they are?
The advertisement in question is reproduced above. His Grace would like to make it clear to the ASA that he is now reproducing this allegedly ‘offensive and homophobic’ advertisement as an educative illustration of allegedly offensive and homophobic advertising; not as an offensive and homophobic advertisement per se. Naturally, His Grace apologises in advance to all those who find this educative illustration offensive and homophobic, for it is never his intention to be either offensive or homophobic. But those of you who do find it offensive and homophobic are free not to visit His Grace’s blog whenever you wish.
The specific complaint relates to:
c. An online ad, seen on the blog of ‘Archbishop Cranmer’, featured photos of couples on their wedding day on the first frame. The second frame stated “I do”. The third frame stated “70% of people* say keep marriage as it is ... (Source: ComRes poll for Catholic Voices)”. The final frame stated “Help us keep the true meaning of marriage. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION Click here ... Coalition for Marriage”.The 'Issue' here is that 24 anonymous complainants, 'including the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group' (doubtless disclosed to give weight to the allegations), challenged whether the claim '70% of people say keep marriage as it is'. However, His Grace is not required to respond to that point, since he did not conduct the research. But it transpires that 10 of these 24 complainants objected that the ads were ‘offensive’ and ‘homophobic’, and he is requested to respond to these allegations ‘under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 4.1 (Harm and offence)’.
He is informed:
We intend to deal with the complaint as a formal investigation, which means it will be considered by the ASA Council. We will then draft a recommendation for the Council based on your response to us. Once the Council has made a decision, the adjudication will be published on our website.They need to see ‘robust documentary evidence to back the claims and a clear explanation from you of its relevance and why you think it substantiates the claims. It is not enough to send references to or abstracts of documents and papers without sending the reports in full and specifically highlighting the relevant parts explaining why they are relevant to the matter in hand’.
...We require you to explain your rationale for the ad and comment specifically on the points raised in the attached complaint notification...
His Grace is asked specifically to respond to the allegation that this:
His response must be in writing, ‘preferably by e-mail’, by 21 May (typed in bold). If His Grace is unable to comply, he must ‘explain why you are unable to respond sooner and agree a timetable for your response’.
And then we get: ‘If you are not the right person to deal with this letter please tell us and pass the letter on to someone who is.’ His Grace is minded to respond that inflicting such an inquisition on an already appallingly-persecuted long-dead archbishop is perhaps not appropriate. He could then ‘pass the letter on to someone’ he thinks might be the ‘right person’, wondering for how long he might string this out...
His Grace is further minded to respond that he has neither fear of nor hatred for the gay and lesbian community, though he is a little pissed off with 10 of them. They could easily have emailed His Grace with their complaint, and we could all have had a jolly good chinwag about the whole thing. Instead, they called in the Gestapo to censor the assertion that marriage is a life-long union between one man and one woman, in accordance with the teaching of the Established Church, the beliefs of its Supreme Governor, and the law of the land. But to say so is now, apparently, ‘offensive and homophobic’.
Well, His Grace won’t be censored. He is further minded to provide the ASA with a copy of his well-publicised ‘bottom line’ (from the right-hand margin): Freedom of speech must be tolerated, and everyone living in the United Kingdom must accept that they may be insulted about their own beliefs, or indeed be offended, and that is something which they must simply endure, not least because some suffer fates far worse...
Unless, of course, we are no longer free, our democracy is no longer liberal, and it is now an offence to express the moderate view of the majority and promote the orthodox teaching of the Church of England Established.