Atheist Bus Ad Prompts New Policy in Indiana June 24, 2009

Atheist Bus Ad Prompts New Policy in Indiana

Transpo is the public bus line in South Bend, Indiana. They were at the center of a public relations fiasco a couple months ago when they rejected (then later accepted) an ad from atheists.

The oh-so-controversial ad read: “You Can Be Good Without God.”

Yesterday, Transpo decided they didn’t want to deal with this problem in the future.

The company will no longer allow ads dealing with the following:

  • Demeaning or disparaging ads.
  • Religious and social issues.
  • Alcohol, tobacco and firearms.
  • Profanity.
  • Violence.
  • Unlawful goods or services.
  • Unlawful conduct.
  • Obscenity, nudity or sexual activity.
  • Political and electoral speech.
  • Implicit and explicit endorsements by Transpo.
  • False, misleading or deceptive commercial speech.
  • Libelous speech and copyright infringement.
  • Disregard for transit safety.

So, on the upside, at least this ad will also be banned.

I’m fine with the new decision. It’s about fairness. If atheist advertising is banned, then religious advertising should be, too. It will be.

Good deal.

(Thanks to Todd for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • mikespeir

    I’d consider this a victory.

  • Yay! on the religious and social issues! That’s Victory!

  • I’d not say it’s a kind of victory until you see the end of religious advertising on the busses. I’m sure they’ll try to get their ads on the busses….

  • Sorry, but I don’t consider this much of a victory.

    A victory would have been “we’ll show your ads after all.”

    True, “we won’t show any religion-related ads” is certainly better than “we’re only going to show pro-religious ads.” But it doesn’t do atheists a whole lot of good. The theists don’t particularly need ads at this point.

  • “False, misleading or deceptive commercial speech.”

    Sounds like the buses won’t have any ads at all.

  • medussa

    Let’s just see if it’s enforced fairly.

  • I wonder if its possible to craft a single ad that violates all of those items…. or none of them.

  • Mike H

    Time to be a little less friendly, Hermant. It is only a victory in that the rules are “fair” now. However, the referees *changed* the rulebook after we joined the game.

    Had atheists never wanted to purchase a bus ad, the rules would still be the same.

    This rule change is a convenient way to hide their bigotry.

  • Neither religious nor social issues? Really?

    So does this mean no domestic violence PSAs? No suicide hotline ads? No “give your baby folic acid” ads?

  • Bo

    Seriously? No social issues? Basically, only currently-legal product advertisements then?

  • Ian

    Since most cities have publicly run buses only, and no competing transport, I’d prefer a more free (ie. fair) speech approach rather than banning everything that anyone could be offended by.

  • miohippus

    This is good news. Being that there won’t be any more religious ads, we can monopolize the space!

  • So in other words, rather than accept atheist ads, they radically changed their advertising rules?

    Just so they didn’t have to put our filthy ads on their nice buses?

    This is like Liberty University deciding not to let Republicans have a club, just they can keep Democrats from having one. I’m not sure I’d call that a victory.

  • Like medussa, I’d wait to see if the policy is enforced before declaring victory. Several years ago, there was a big dustup in my own Midwest State where a protestor tore down and set fire to a rainbow flag that was flying at the State House to honor the Capital City Pride March. Rather than deal with the controversy, the state government declared that only the US flag, the state flag, and flags of dignitaries from other states and countries would be allowed to fly from the flagpoles on the grounds.

    Yes, you guessed it. Six months later, as I was driving by, I noticed several flags flying that were not in the above approved list. I didn’t have means at the time to take a photo and raise a fuss.

    Let’s not let them off the hook just yet.

  • llewelly

    So, on the upside, at least this ad will also be banned.

    Is Transpo running that ad? Or any ads like that?

  • llewelly

    If you know anyone who lives where Transpo operates, ask them to keep their eyes peeled for religious ads run by Transpo. I suspect some may pop up despite the rules change.

  • Florian

    How much you want to bet they’ll still accept ads for churches?

  • Jim

    Censorship is wrong and unconstitutional. The company that runs this advertising agency should not have the right to censor publicly viewed space.

    Here’s what is going to happen as a result: They will continue to advertise whatever they feel like and anyone that tries to advertise something they don’t like, they can lean on their self-enforced rules as guidance. What happens when they don’t follow their own rules? What are the consequences they face for not following their own rules that they invented????


  • Hi. This might be bit off topic, but in the sadly christian Finland an atheist bus ad campaign has started as well. The ad states that “There’s probably no God. So, stop worrying and enjoy your life”. That’s fine. There was a buzz about islamic bus drivers not accepting it, but after all they found no problem with it. This would have been troublesome, as a very big part of bus drivers in the biggest finnish cities come from Northern and Eastern Africa and Middle East and many of them are islamic by religion. It was also proposed to make the ad say, in biggest cities, “There’s probably no Allah. So, stop worrying and enjoy your life”, because of the growing islamic minority of these cities. However, islam still is very small minority religion in Finland and in every Finnish city as well, so the proposed campaign would have targeted very few people.

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