Friday, September 04, 2009

Accepting the Chaliceblog invitation

ChaliceChick addresses the question of the controversial Freedom From Religion ad in the latest UUWorld in her usual thoughtful manner, saying Let's Play UU World Editor ; Which ads would you take? Which ads would you refuse? Why? I have to respond here, because as usual, I ran way too long for a comment.

My editorial principles would be: no attack ads; nothing that ridicules or denigrates any person, faith, or organization. No political ads, even positive and polite ones, for fear of both offending members and running afoul of the IRS. Ads must be tasteful, taking the sensibilities of the readership into account. Lastly, I am sure there some editorial policies about products or groups that may be unacceptable that have been decided by the board. (see my speculation about tobacco below) How I have applied these principles in the past: I have written to the UUWorld protesting the "Darwinfish" ads; some of their products are direct attacks and deeply offensive. How I would apply them to CC's examples:

- a moderately-phrased ad from a Pro-life group that appeals to the emotions of readers with a headline like "a person is a person no matter how small". The headline quoted is the essence of the entire argument; it is presented as a position statement, not an attack on any person or group. The language is not offensive or derogatory. If that is the worst thing in the ad- no graphic photographs, no accusations of unworthy motives against their opposition- I would accept the ad.

-an ad from a UU reiki practitioner extolling the benefits of Reiki and selling classes on reiki. As long as the ad does not make unsupportable claims, like curing cancer or something, it's inoffensive and no sillier than half the things we do. Take it.

- An ad from a non-UU Christian group that urges social justice action in God's name "Thy will be done on Earth' is a call to action." Social Justice Action is a huge part of this church; indeed, I was attacked in comments to Elizabeth's Little Blog for suggesting we take time to heal ourselves as well as the rest of the world. The only possible reason for refusing it would be if there's an official editorial policy against using the "G" word, and if there is, there shouldn't be- take the ad.

- An ad from a tobacco company advertising their product for native American-style rituals. I think there actually is a policy against accepting tobacco ads- does anyone know for sure? If there is, it doesn't matter what the people in the ad are using the tobacco for. If there isn't such a policy, there should be- refuse the ad, and add a disclaimer to the boilerplate about products that are lethal even when used as recommended.

- A less-moderately phrased ad from a pro-life group that says something like "Everyone who supported slavery was free; everyone who supports abortion is already born." This language is stronger, but no stronger than has been used in some of the articles. At least half of it is demonstrably true, and the other half can be reasonably assumed. Again, if that's the worst thing in the ad, take it.

- An ad from a UU Christian group that encourages people in trouble to reach out to Christ. Something like "Dear God: I have a problem. It's me." The language is inoffensive. The concept is inoffensive; there are some UUs who do exactly that. Hells bells, even many Pagans (such as myself) realize most of their problems can be found in the mirror. Take the ad.

-An ad from an animal rights group that says "Stop kidding yourself, animal slaughter is murder, go vegan." Like the Pro-Life ad, the statement is their entire argument. It is strongly worded, but not a direct attack on any person or faith. Take the ad.

- An ad from an organization of reform Jews encouraging people to convert to Judaism. I had thought it was the official position of their faith to discourage conversions; you usually have to prove a strong calling to get them to accept a conversion. Leaving that aside, as long as the ad only promotes their own theology, and does not denigrate anyone else's, take the ad.


Anonymous said...

"Everyone who supported slavery was free..." begs the question of the close personal slaves who fared well under the system: "house slaves." There is no scientific survey of the subgroup of these folks who were winners under the peculiar instituion. I am no exhonerating slavery, just saying that for some slaves, emancipation was a major step down the security ladder. I cannot believe that none of them foresaw and dreaded the coming of the Yankee economic sell-out and the brutal share-cropping system.

Joel Monka said...

True. There were also free blacks who owned slaves, and were slave traders. It's a more complicated subject than is commonly supposed.