As a general rule of thumb anything that winds up Cranmer is usually a good thing so it’s with some amusement that I have report that 24 people including a ‘Jewish Gay and Lesbian group’ have reported his blog to the Advertising Standards Authority over an advert he ran on behalf of the ‘Coalition For Marriage’.
So far as the substance of these complaints are concerned, the advert included a claim that ‘70% of people say keep marriage as it is’ giving the source of this claim as poll conducted by ComRes on behalf of Catholic Voices, a semi-official Catholic propaganda and astroturfing operation, and this is being challenged under rules 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading Advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation) of the CAP code.
To add insult to feigned injury, rule 4.1 (Harm and Offence) has also been brought into play by a number of complainants who’ve alleged that the advert is ‘offensive’ and ‘homophobic’.
This is all a desperate imposition on our fulminating faux cleric. Not only is he, of course, being ‘persecuted’ by the ASA’s request for evidence to back up the factual claim in the advert but, as always, any awareness of the Godwin’s Law is amongst the first casualties in this conflict…
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?
They are, of course, people who are tasked simply with doing a job which entails investigating complaints about advertising lodged by members of the general public, and all they’ve done so far is contact Cranmer and offer him the chance to give his side of the story. The ASA hasn’t ruled on anything as yet and on reviewing the material facts of these complaints I think it unlikely in the extreme that they’ll be upheld.
As regards the 70% claim, the poll was conducted by ComRes, which is a member of the British Polling Council, and the full results are available on its website, from which we find that of the 2004 people who took part in the poll, 70% did indeed agree with the proposition that:
Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman
Okay, for a social scientist’s standpoint, the poll stands out as a pretty blatant bit of push-polling – before being asked that question, respondents were first asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following three statements:
Marriage is important to society and should be promoted by the state
Although death or divorce may prevent it, children have the best chance in life if raised by their own mother and father in a stable, committed relationship
Stable relationships between same-sex couples should be legally recognised through the civil partnership scheme
And its also fair to say that ComRes has become a favourite polling organisation amongst a number of Christian lobby groups in the last few years and largely one suspects – and this is personal opinion – because it allows these organisations to get away with running what any credible social scientist would regard as obviously leading opinion polls.
Nevertheless, the results of this poll do back up the 70% claim and unless the ASA is prepared to get into it with ComRes and challenge their polling methodology its highly likely that this poll will be accepted as adequate substantiation of the advert’s main factual claim.
As regards the allegation that the advert is, itself, offensive and homophobic well. let’s be honest, we’re hardly in ‘God Hates Fags’ territory here are we? And, in any case, this is essentially a single issue political campaign and should, therefore , attract a greater degree of protection under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights than would be the case for purely commercial advertising.
In short, it should take no more than 10-15 minutes to compose a suitable response which addresses and roundly dismisses the complaint.
What’s interesting here, therefore, is not the complaint itself but the stereotypical ‘How very dare you!’ overreaction to the ASA’s decision to investigate the matter, a reaction that is entirely characteristic of other incidents in which complaints have been made alleging either religious homophobia or, in some cases, inappropriate proselytising.
If the only argument here was these complaints are misconceived and even, perhaps, vexatious then I’d be inclined to agree wholeheartedly but, as seems to be invariably the case, that’s not the only thing with which Cranmer and others are taking issue.
What seems to rankle some Christians, whenever such complaints are made, is the mere fact that those complaints have to be investigated and they are not, therefore, afforded the kind of privileged status and unthinking deference that the believe they should be afforded. Where ‘persecution’ once meant getting nailed to tree or tossed into an arena to fight for life it now means nothing more than ‘How dare you treat us the same as everyone else, you inconsiderate bunch of bastards.’
Although I doubt very much that the ASA will uphold of these complaints, if they do it’ll only be because Cranmer has followed some of the half-witted ‘advice’ that being posted in comments and completely fucked up his response to what should be a trivial matter to deal with, which wouldn’t be such a bad outcome if there were any prospect of his camp followers learning something useful from the experience.
Unfortunately, as the comments under his post clearly show, the chance of most of those people learning anything is so small that its not even worth of effort of hoping for a fuck up.