Everyone knows the back story by now: OC Transpo has turned down the "Probably No God" bus-side ads, justifying this decision by a series of prevarications. As it stands, Ottawa busses can carry ads for the evangelistic Alpha Course, the Anglican Diocese, pro-life pregnancy counselling services, and (appearing soon) random capsule Bible lessons. But suggesting there's no God? That might offend people! Nooooooo!
So, the issue went before the city's Transit Committee today -- and actually made the tag end of the six o'clock news. After some nice pics and a sound-bite from some of my fellow Ottawa Humanists, we got committee chair Alex Cullen:
To say that this particular group cannot speak -- if you follow the logic -- means that no Christian can speak, no Muslim can speak, no Hindu can speak, no Jew can speak, because these are all....[interruption by another committee member]Cullen gets it (and so, to his credit, does the guy running the Bus Stop Bible Studies): If "viewpoint" advertising is allowed at all, then everyone gets their shot at it. If Cullen ever runs for mayor, I'm voting for him (unless of course the other Alex runs again).
Then, cut to Councillor Marianne Wilkinson (whom I believe was the interruptor):
I think that to actually demean religions groups in this city is not what we should be doing at OC Transpo, so I can't support this and I think that you were wrong Mr. Chair that it doesn't do that, because to me as a Christian it does...No, Marianne. Let me explain "demeaning" to you: "Anyone who believes in God is a moron" -- that would indeed be demeaning of religious individuals and groups. But: "There's probably [not even definitely] no God"? In what universe is that "demeaning"? If I saw that ad 25 years ago, I would have said "No, I disagree", and then had the argument -- but demeaning? How about: "Marianne Wilkinson is a thin-skinned twit" -- yes, that's personally demeaning. Unfortunately, you're providing evidence that it's true.
Our folks made the Metro tabloid: