Sunday, January 26, 2014

No such thing as bad publicity

We have all heard that saying. And I have now discovered that it is true.

When put up bus shelter ads and then bus ads in Halifax, we knew there would be some controversy over them. But you can never predict these things until they happen. They are always a little different than you expect.

First Hilary Murphy, a student at St. Mary's University in Halifax, posted an online petition to Metro Transit and to Signs for Life, asking that the signs be taken down because they are offensive and hurtful to women.

To date, her petition has obtained over 1800 signatures. Signs for Life penned a response to the petition stating the purposes of the signs and the fact that there is no intention to remove these signs before Metro Transit takes them down.

You can read the petition here, and scroll down the page to read the reply from Signs for Life to Hilary.

The second reaction came from Allison Sparling, a graduate of Mount St. Vincent University. Allison decided to take a more pragmatic approach to her opposition to the signs. And she has initiated a counter fund-raising campaign with South House to put up signs supporting "Choice" and reproductive rights on the buses. Their goal is to raise $4000 and they are halfway there.

So what is the result of these efforts? As far as I can see, these two ladies have succeeded in spreading word about the Signs for Life campaign to over 3000 people who might not have heard about it otherwise. And because of these counter efforts, Signs for Life has had 10 media interviews, something that would not have happened were it not for them.  Thanks! 

I have posted links to Hilary's and Allison's webpages to give full disclosure. Do I worry that I might be helping them out and getting more support for them? not in the slightest. I refer back to the title of this post.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...


I've been seeing the ads now that I've been taking the bus and frankly, I can't see how anyone can think they are so offensive (though the bar for offense in lower than a limbo pole now a days). Personally they are beautiful, showing a new born child and acknowledging the scientific fact that he came into existence 9 months before. Makes me wonder if these people turn into rabid dogs at the mention of the law of gravity or if they can offend their eyes by looking at the periodic table.

A lot of the arguements on the SMU student's petition are about shaming women. Assuming these people don't know the difference between guilt (feeling bad about something you have done) and shame (feeling bad about who or what you are), if women react to these ads, they probably feel guilt. Even if the law and the culture tell them they are right (to the point that activists tell them it's a human right), they react violently when a single message tells them that a baby is a live in the womb? The sign isn't accusatory. It doesn't point a finger at specific woman A and say, you had an abortion and are going to hell. Their reaction remind me of the Tell-tale Heart. Most women who have abortions don't wear a scarlet A. The anonymous people on the bus wouldn't know they did it and yet, ads like these (if we believe the people who signed the petition) make them feel guilt, as if someone is accusing them. They hear the heart beat, like they can't help it. Food for thought.