Archbishop Cranmer vs ASA

 ASA hassle blogger over innocuous advert supporting gay marrieage



15th May
2012
  

Updated: Advertising Standards Authority Persecutes His Grace...

ASA harangues well known blogger over polite call to sign a petition against gay marriage

gay marriage The well known and respected blog archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk is being put under pressure by the politically correct advertising police of the ASA. As Archbishop Cranmer explains:

Apparently there have been a number of complaints about one of the advertisements His Grace carried on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage. He has been sent all manner of official papers, formal documentation and threatening notices which demand answers to sundry questions by a certain deadline. He is instructed by the Investigations Executive of this inquisition to keep all this confidential.

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?

The call to sign the petition simply consists of

1. Photos of couples on their wedding day on the first frame.

2. The second frame stated I do .

3. The third frame stated 70% of people* say keep marriage as it is ...(Source:ComRes poll for Catholic Voices) .

4. The final frame stated Help us keep the true meaning of marriage. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION Click here ...Coalition for Marriage .

Apparently 24 complainants, including the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group challenged whether the claim '70% of people say keep marriage as it is' However, His Grace is not required to respond to that point, since he did not conduct the research. But it transpires that 10 of these 24 complainants objected that the petition call is somehow offensive and homophobic, and he is requested to respond to these allegations.

...Read the full article

Update: Illiberal Conspiracy

14th May 2012. See  article from  liberalconspiracy.org

liberal conspiracy logo An interesting post at liberalconspiracy.org suggested that it is correct that the ASA should follow up the complaints and demand a response from the blogger:

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.

...

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.

Why is it that the British authorities always seem to start from the default position that a complainant is right?

The 'advert' in question is clearly not threatening, or inciting in anyway whatsoever, it is not even mildly insulting. It is just a call to support a stance that is actually the status quo and is currently the law of the land.

The PC police at the ASA should not be allowing political campaigners to make complaints that end up hassling those merely exercising their right to free speech. It is not free speech if people are harassed and bullied into justifying their stance. The ASA should tell the complainants to sling their hooks and not support bullying.

Update: His Grace Responds with support from diverse organisations

15th May 2012.

Christian Concern are unimpressed by ASA bullying. From an article on  christianconcern.com :

Christian Comcern The investigation was launched after anonymous complaints were received against the blog for featuring the online advert which urged members of the public to sign the Coalition for Marriage petition.

The complainants, including the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group, have described the advert as offensive and homophobic . The anonymous writer has now been given until 21 May to respond to the allegations.

The writer behind the blog, which was ranked as the 24th most influential blog in the UK, commented:

This is nothing short of censorship. Nothing in the advert is factually incorrect or offensive. It is an advert to campaign to simply keep the law as it is. It is outrageous to suggest it is homophobic and the fact that the ASA are even considering such an allegation is ludicrous and displays evidence of a lack of even basic research by them before making the demand of Cranmer that they have done.

Critics have noted that the Chairman of the ASA is Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury, who is Vice President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and a leading supporter of same-sex marriage. He has previously been named by Pink News as being in the top 30 of the most powerful homosexual people in British politics.

Meanwhile the National Secular Society are also unimpressed. From an  article on  secularism.org.uk

National Secular Society logo The rather eccentric Christian blogger Archbishop Cranmer is under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority after he reproduced an advertisement from the group Coalition for Marriage which is seeking to thwart the Government's plans to legalise same-sex marriage.

The ASA has said that it has received ten complaints that the advertisement is offensive and homophobic . It demands that the Archbishop explain himself before he is once more sent to the stake.

Needless to say his wit and style is more than a match for the rather authoritarian tendencies at the Advertising Standards Authority, and he has turned the tables on them quite deliciously.

The NSS wants to announce its support for the Archbishop Cranmer blog. Although it disagrees with this blogger profoundly on so many issues, it agrees with him entirely that the Advertising Standards Authority is overstepping the mark and posing a rather sinister threat to freedom of expression.

But Archbishop Cranmer is enjoying confronting the ASA bullies. He has written a fine response.

archbishop cranmer logo He asks some pertinent questions of the ASA:

[Re] the complaint concerns the Coalition for Marriage advertisement, it must be observed that the same advertisement appeared on numerous blogs ('Internet [display]'), including Guido Fawkes (which you acknowledge) and ConservativeHome. You appear not to have troubled ConservativeHome at all in the pursuit of your enquiries, and your letter states that you have copied in Guido Fawkes for information only. Ergo you appear to have singled out His Grace alone in the blogosphere ('Internet [display]') and made demands only of him to respond to Point 2 of the complaint, i.e., that the advertisement was homophobic and offensive . Why are you harassing His Grace alone in the blogosphere? Why are all blogs which displayed this advertisement not being treated equally?

You state that 10 of the 25 complaints received deem the advertisement to be offensive and homophobic . His Grace understands the plainest meaning and definition of the term offensive . But, since homosexuals and homosexuality are nowhere mentioned in the advertisement, could you please clarify how the term homophobic is being used in this context?

See the full response from  archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com

 

16th May
2012
  

Update: ASA Persecuting His Grace Now in the Public Gaze...

Daily Mail reports on the ASA and republishes the supposedly offensive advert

gay marriage The well known and respected blog archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk is being put under pressure by the politically correct advertising police of the ASA.

An innocuous 'advert' calling for reader to sign a petition opposing gay marriage resulted in 24 complainants, including the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group.

The call to sign the petition simply consists of

1. Photos of couples on their wedding day on the first frame.

2. The second frame stated I do .

3. The third frame stated 70% of people* say keep marriage as it is ...(Source:ComRes poll for Catholic Voices) .

4. The final frame stated Help us keep the true meaning of marriage. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION Click here ...Coalition for Marriage .

The ASA demanded that Archbishop Cranmer justifies the advert and how he answers the ludicrous claim that it is somehow offensive and homophobic,

The story has now being picked up by the Daily Mail who gave the ASA to explain their requests of Archbishop Cranmer. The Daily Mail wrote:

ASA logo The ASA today stressed it would not necessarily uphold the complaints, which would lead to the ad being banned.

It said in a statement: The right of advertisers responsibly to express their views will undoubtedly be an important factor in our assessment of whether the ads are likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We are also looking at whether the ads are misleading.

The authority also responded to Archbishop Cranmer's outrage over the threatening way in which it approached him, explaining that: We have long found it useful to ask, in confidence, publishers of ads subject to 'offence complaints for their views, because they can give us a valuable insight into whether or not their readers are likely to be offended'.

Note the conciliatory tone used by ASA when being exposed in the press. Note the reasonable sounding:

We have long found it useful to ask, in confidence, publishers of ads subject to 'offence complaints for their views, because they can give us a valuable insight into whether or not their readers are likely to be offended'.

Then compare it with the bullying tones used by the ASA in an adjudication published today re a Facebook advert for Manhattan Bar. The ASA then wrote about 'asking' for advertiser input:

[Advertiser] Response

Manhattan Bar did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.

Assessment Upheld

The ASA was concerned by Manhattan Bar's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

Meanwhile the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group have published a statement about complaints attributed to the group. The group shouted on their website somewhat unconvincingly that it wasn't a call for censorship:

JGLG HAS NOT CALLED FOR CENSORSHIP OF ANYTHING. ONE OF OUR MEMBERS ASKED THE ASA FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO AN ADVERT SEEN IN A MAGAZINE BECAUSE HE BELIEVED IT TO BE UNLAWFUL. HE WAS NOT ACTING ON BEHALF OF JGLG. WE WOULD LIKE TO STATE THAT CALLING FOR AN INVESTIGATION ISN'T THE SAME THING AS CALLING FOR CENSORSHIP.

 

17th May
2012
  

Update: ASA Deny Bullying...

But Archbishop Cranmer demonstrates that they are speaking bollox

gay marriage Presumably due to the Daily Mail picking up the story of Archbishop Cranmer's battle with the ASA who say that they are investigating offence and homophobia attributed to a totally innocuous advert calling for people to sign an anti-gay marriage petitition

 ASA have now made a statement on their website at  asa.org.uk . This includes:

One of the bloggers on whose blog the ads appeared has raised concerns about us contacting him as part of our investigation. We have long found it useful to ask, in confidence, publishers of ads subject to offence complaints for their views, because they can give us a valuable insight into whether or not their readers are likely to be offended. They are not the subject of our investigation, as we have made clear to them in this case, and they are not compelled to respond.

But Archbishop Cranmer takes particular notice of the claim: "they are not compelled to respond". He has published correspondence between himself and the ASA and demonstrates that the ASA bullies are speaking bollox:

See  Archbishop Cramer's response: ASA semantics and lies from  archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk

 

18th May
2012
  

Extract: The ASA Responds to His Grace...

The Archbishop is somewhat unimpressed by an ASA response written in Foboffish

archbishop cranmer logo The ASA has kindly responded to His Grace (within the 48hr deadline requested), and they appear to have opted for Discursive Deflection Letter No.17b, which incorporates expressions of absolute vacuity patronisingly written in sentences of monosyllabic nothingness as though the recipient were a moron. It answers none of the eight questions asked, and merits a jolly good fisking:

RE: ASA Complaint Investigation - 192907/JT

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email. I am writing to provide some further explanation as to why we contacted you about this ad, and how our process works.

His Grace thanks you for that, but he has no questions about how your process works. He simply asked why you chose to escalate this matter immediately to the level of formal investigation , and why you chose His Grace alone from the blogosphere to justify his decision to publish/distribute it. You answer neither question. And His Grace doesn't like the tone of I am writing to provide some explanation as to... how our process works : he is neither five years old nor mentally deficient.

See the full article

 

19th May
2012
  

Extract: An Admission of Error...

ASA write again to Archbishop Cranmer

archbishop cranmer logo The ASA finally wrote to Archbishop Cranmer without the previous patronising Foboffish:

We're sorry for any confusion or upset we've caused. We do accept that our first email didn't state that you were not compelled to respond to us, though we did clarify that explicitly in our second email to you. We do try to work with -- rather than against -- advertisers, agencies and publishers to resolve complaints that are raised with us. We also strive to make sure that our communications are clear, so we will certainly take on board the issues you've raised for future investigations.

Our website statement clarifies that publishers are not compelled to respond in these cases and was published after our second email to you.

Given that our investigation is ongoing and that you are not the subject of that investigation, I will not be addressing the wider queries you have raised or corresponding further on those points. That's because your questions go beyond your involvement in this case.

See the full article

 

22nd May
2012
  

Extract: ASA v. Coalition for Marriage Ltd (2012)...

Archbishop Cranmer responds to the ASA demands for justification of the totally inoffensive anti-gay marriage advert

archbishop cranmer logo And finally Archbishop Cranmer wrote to the ASA to answer their original questions:

By sending out complaint papers which demand responses with such phrases as We require you to respond... and we will need to see robust documentary evidence to back the claims and a clear explanation from you of its relevance ; and by doing so with demands to answer your questions by a certain deadline with threats of punitive action for non-compliance, you fraudulently convey an excess of power and claim an authority which you do not, in law, possess. You impress upon the recipient that you are the superior moral agent, and that submission and obeisance are the only appropriate response. Authority which is exerted without right is an illegitimate use of power; illegitimate authority is tyranny; and tyranny leads to injustice, which can have no authority at all. By abusing your self-certified power and self-authenticated authority for the perpetuation of an image of your self-integrity, you deny all authority. You ought to rename yourselves the Political Substandard Tyranny.

Your treatment of His Grace has been mendacious, oppressive, and partisan. This has only become apparent as he refused to comply with your demand to keep all correspondence confidential. How many others have been intimidated, harassed and bullied into submission by you as they suffered in silence, fearful of the consequences of disclosure?

...Read the full article

ASA's Chris Smith comes Out4Marriage

See  article from  archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com

Archbishop Cranmer also questions whether Chris Smith's campaigning in favour of gay marriage is appropriate to for the head of an organisation that is seemingly harassing political opponents.

With impeccable ('interesting') timing, Lord Smith of Finsbury has come out in favour of the campaign for same-sex marriage.

For all the reasons previously observed, Lord Smith must now resign his position as Chairman of the ASA, who have aggressively and deceptively made demands of His Grace (and others) in relation to a Coalition for Marriage advertisement which merely sought to uphold the traditional view of marriage and English law as it presently stands.

...Read the full article

 

23rd May
2012
  

Extract: ASA Concedes Lord Smith's Conflict of Interest...

Archbishop Cranmer makes the Telegraph over his call for Chris Smith to resign from the ASA

archbishop cranmer logo Thanks to John Bingham, the brilliant Social Affairs Editor of The Telegraph, the demands of this blog for the Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority to step down over his manifest conflict of interest have entered the mainstream media. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

The issue really is quite straightforward, and His Grace is at a loss to understand why others cannot see it. Lord Smith is actively campaigning for same-sex marriage while chairing an organisation that is investigating a perfectly reasonable and inoffensive advertisement promoting traditional marriage for alleged homophobia . The complaint is malicious and vexatious and ought to have been dismissed; the investigation is harassing, bullying and intimidating. Lord Smith's position is untenable.

Yet the intrepid Mr Bingham has established that the ASA itself believes that their Chairman has a conflict of interest in this matter. A spokesman said: Our chairman ordinarily does not vote, we have got 13 members of the council and the decisions are taken by them and our chairman does not ordinarily vote unless it is split. There is a conflict of interest here so even should the decision have been split he would not vote.

Well, thank God for that.

So much for Dr Webster's insistence that the ASA Chairman is operationally distinct : it is apparent that he chairs all Council meetings (how many limited companies have a council?) which take the decision to investigate potential breaches of the advertising code. This being the case, it is simply not sufficient for Lord Smith to lose his vote. He would have been (and will be) present at all discussions and party to all decisions: it is absurd to assert that his status and influence as Chairman have no bearing at all upon the decisions of other ASA Council members. It is very difficult indeed to support an advertisement in favour of heterosexual marriage in the presence of someone who believes it to be homophobic .

...Read the full article

Update: ASA and Lord Smith's (shifting) declarations of interests

26th May 2012. See  article from  archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk

The ASA have kindly acknowledged His Grace lengthy contribution to their investigation, which they summarised thus:

Archbishop Cranmer did not believe that ad (c) would be seen as offensive or homophobic. He pointed out that it merely featured pictures of photos of couples on their wedding day and a quotation from the marriage liturgy, and did not believe any rational or reasonable person would find this offensive.

And he has been given until 10.00am on 30th May to send them any comments on the factual accuracy of this.

...Read the full article

 

 Update: ASA Exploited by Campaigners...

Archbishop Cranmer predictably cleared by the ASA over worthless whinges, probably politically motivated, that should have been dismissed at the first opportunity


Link Here 13th June 2012

gay marriage Four ads for the campaigning group Coalition for Marriage:

a. A press ad, seen in Country Life Magazine, featured photos of couples on their wedding day. The ad stated 'I do' 70% of people* say keep marriage as it is. We agree: politicians should not be meddling with one of our great national institutions. 190,000 people have signed our petition in favour of keeping the definition of marriage unchanged. Whilst fully recognising the rights and views of others, we're asking you to support us. If you want to keep the true meaning of marriage as it is, and has been for thousands of years, say 'I do' - by signing our petition at c4m.org.uk PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION visit c4m.org.uk today ... Coalition for Marriage . Small print stated (*Source: ComRes poll for Catholic Voices) .

b. The ad was the same as ad (a), and was seen in the Daily Telegraph.

c. An online ad, seen on the blog of Archbishop Cranmer , featured photos of couples on their wedding day on the first frame. The second frame stated I do . The third frame stated 70% of people* say keep marriage as it is ... (Source: ComRes poll for Catholic Voices) . The final frame stated Help us keep the true meaning of marriage. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION Click here ... Coalition for Marriage .

d. The ad was the same as ad (c), and was seen on blog of Guido Fawkes .

1. Twenty-four complainants challenged whether the claim 70% of people say keep marriage as it is in ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) was misleading and could be substantiated.

2. Eleven complainants objected that ads (a) and (c) were offensive.

3. Three complainants objected that ad (a) was misleading, as they did not believe it made clear that the aim of the online petition was to oppose same sex marriage.

1. Coalition for Marriage said the poll on which the claim was based was carried out by ComRes, who were a well-known and reputable polling company used by many sources. They said the poll asked whether marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman . They provided a link to the full poll results, and said they did not believe it was misleading to base the claim 70% of people say keep marriage as it is on the answer to this question. They pointed out that the question referred to continue and defined and said these meant the question related to whether the definition of marriage should be kept as it is, and not widened. They said the existence of other polls on the issue of gay marriage were not relevant, and that readers were free to make up their own mind about the opinions behind the polling figures. They pointed out that the ads stated clearly the source for the polling figure and that the poll was commissioned by Catholic Voices.

2. Coalition for Marriage did not believe the ads contained anything that was likely to cause offence. They said that pictures of happy couples on their wedding day appeared regularly in the media, and that the rest of the ad merely contained further information about their campaign. They said the aim of the ad, and their campaign, was to defend the definition of marriage enshrined in UK law as it had existed for hundreds of years. They believed those complaining were intolerant of opposing views. They believed the ads were an upbeat, warm-hearted presentation that simply endorsed the longstanding, globally accepted legal definition of marriage.

Country Life said their magazine covered a diverse range of subjects and they were not afraid to put forward a point of view or encourage debate. They said they accepted ad (a) because, in their opinion, it was simply an organisation's point of view and in theory no different to any other campaigning ad, about which there would always be differing opinions. They said they had received a small number of complaints from people who felt the ad was offensive but did not believe all had been from people who were actually readers. They said it was not their intention to cause offence and they welcomed all readers, whatever their point of view.

Archbishop Cranmer did not believe that ad (c) would be seen as offensive or homophobic. He pointed out that it merely featured pictures of photos of couples on their wedding day and a quotation from the marriage liturgy, and did not believe any rational or reasonable person would find this offensive.

3. Coalition for Marriage did not believe the ad was likely to mislead readers as to the purpose of the petition. They believed that asking people to sign to show their support for the current legal definition of marriage explicitly signalled objection to same sex marriage. They believed anyone signing the petition would be aware of the current political debate around marriage. They also pointed out that the ads directed people to their website to sign the petition, and that more information about their campaign and the current political debate about same sex marriage was available there.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not Upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that Coalition for Marriage based the claim 70% of people say keep marriage as it is on a poll carried out by ComRes for Catholic Voices, and this was clearly stated in the ads. The question asked in the poll was whether respondents agreed with the statement Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman and 70% said they did. The poll related to an online panel of 2004 people, and the data had been weighted to be representative of the general population. Although some complainants believed the claim made in the ads was misleading because it did not reflect the results of other polls on the issue of same sex marriage, we considered the claim accurately represented the responses received to the poll conducted by ComRes and that the source for the claim was sufficiently prominent to ensure that those viewing the ad would be aware that it referred to the results of that poll only. Most people would expect polls relating to matters of opinion to lead to differing results depending on the exact wording of the question and the context in which it was asked. Also, the ad stated on which poll the claim was based and who had commissioned it. Finally, the poll was publically available on the ComRes website. We concluded that the claim was not misleading,

On this point we investigated ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) under CAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation) but did not find them in breach.

2. Not upheld

We noted the complainants believed that ads (a) and (c) were offensive as they considered them to be homophobic. However, the ads focused on the current legal definition of marriage and its history. We considered that, although some people might disagree with the advertisers' opinions on the matter of same sex marriage, the ads in themselves did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

On this point we investigated ads (a) and (c) under CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach.

3. Not upheld

The ad appeared in the context of a high-profile public debate around the issue of same sex marriage. We considered that readers seeing the ad would infer from the references to keeping marriage as it is that Coalition for Marriage were opposed to same sex marriage and that this was the purpose of the petition. The petition was on Coalition for Marriage's own website, which contained further information about their campaign. Therefore, we concluded the ad was unlikely to mislead readers about the aim of the online petition.

On this point we investigated ad (a) under CAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) but did not find it in breach.

 


Censor Watch logo
censorwatch.co.uk
 

Top

Home

Links
 

Censorship News Latest

Daily UK Ratings from the BBFC

Melon Farmers