My last post did little to express my rage upon hearing that the atheist ads were refused in Halifax. In the time (hour or so?) since then, I have written a letter which I have emailed to the people responsible. I urge Haligonians (yes that’s what we’re called) – or any Canadian really – to do the same. You can write or call the following:
Halifax Regional Municipality
200 Ilsley Ave
Dartmouth N.S., B3B 1V1
Public Affairs, Transit Services
Mayor Peter Kelly
1841 Argyle Street
P.O. Box 1749
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3J 3A5
Below is a copy of my letter:
4 February, 2009
Re: The Atheist Bus Campaign
Ms. Patterson and Mr. Kelly:
I was deeply disappointed to learn today that the advertisement from the Atheist Bus Campaign was recently refused on the grounds that it was “too controversial”. I have several problems with this.
First, and this may seem trite but it apparently needs mention, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures Canadian citizens [section 2b] “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”. Your refusal to run the ad is a violation of our charter.
Second, Canada is world known for its tolerance of people’s views from religion to homosexuality. This is something of which I am quite proud. I am therefore deeply ashamed that we should be associated with bigotry towards atheists and other non-religious groups.
Third, the purpose of running an ad is to promote an idea. Many ideas begin as controversial and unpopular until exposure and education helps reduce prejudice and ignorance. Many people realize this and do not call to complain when they see ads they do not like. Unfortunately, atheists are still largely being treated as second-class citizens. Silencing any group prior to public view merely for the ideas they hold is a terribly Orwellian state of being.
Lastly, give the people of Halifax the chance to see the ads for themselves and make their own decisions. We are an allegedly free nation. Who are you to be the protector of their virgin eyes? Let the people of Halifax see that we live the true north strong and free, so that our patriotic ideals are more than just words in a charter or a song. Let the world see that we are not a country of hypocrites.