Posts Tagged “advertising”

Photograph of Leah Remini, via Wikimedia CommonsA month ago I blogged about Leah Remini’s documentary series exposing the excesses of Scientology, on the occasion of it winning an Emmy. As I said then, Remini’s series is by no means the first major exposé of the Church of Scientology and its abusive practices. There have been many of them over the last several decades. One of the more noteable early exposés was a book, The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper, published in 1971 (which resulted in her being “fair gamed” and nearly destroyed by CoS). A biography of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah by Russell Miller, was published in 1987. Much more recently there was Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, published in 2013. There was also BBC’s Scientology and Me in 2007, and Going Clear on HBO in 2015.

Really, the inanity of Scientology has been well-known since Martin Gardner released Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science in 1952 (before the CoS existed and Hubbard’s bullshit was known only as “dianetics”).

So none of what Remini (and co-presenter Mike Rinder) reveal in the series is news. It’s not. But Scientology and the Aftermath reaches more people than ever and shining a much brighter light on CoS than before.

As far as I know, CoS’s main response had been to draft Web sites critical of Remini, Rinder, and some of their contributors. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, the popularity of her series has forced CoS to ramp up that response a bit (Archive.Is cached article):

Scientologists are emailing advertisers and demanding they boycott the A&E show “ Leah Remini : Scientology and the Aftermath,” claiming the documentary series is inciting threats and acts of violence against members of the church.

Individuals who say they are Scientologists sent multiple versions of the letter in recent months to advertisers and ad buyers, according to people familiar with the matter. The group behind the effort, Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination (STAND), also posted a handful of letters addressed to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler brand and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Geico, among others, on its website.

I have no idea how “Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination” extracted the “STAND” acronym from their name. I mean, “STAAD” works better. Maybe they avoided that because putting a “G” in front of it might confuse them with a ski-resort town in Switzerland. But hey, what could I know about it?

As the WSJ explains, at least one advertiser (Geico) did bend over for CoS and they’ve pull its ads from the series — but not from the network (which kind of makes clear that they’re specifically avoiding Remini’s show). Way to go, Geico. I knew geckos are flexible, but I didn’t know they had no backbones.

With this development, it’s clear Remini and Rinder have had an effect on Scientology. Good for them! The more is revealed about CoS’s shenanigans, the better.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Crusaders battleThe nation’s Neocrusaders have carried their war against Islam into the Nutmeg State, and have claimed several Metro North commuter-train stations as their beachhead. The Connecticut Post reports on this latest propaganda effort (WebCite cached article):

The series of billboards paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative are the latest chapter in an ongoing battle of trackside messages financed by advocacy groups on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The current ad campaign posted at five Connecticut stations on the New Haven Line — Greenwich, Cos Cob, Noroton Heights, Darien and South Norwalk — include the slogan “It’s not Islamophobia, It’s Islamorealism,” in red lettering on a black background.

Above the slogan, the poster lists the number 19,250, the purported number of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremists since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The signs were put up by a group led by Pamela Geller, a prominent and vocal Jewish Neocrusader, part of a pissing contest she’s gotten into with a critic of Israel:

Geller said the ads, which will run through Sept. 2 were bought to counter a round of platform advertisements critical of Israel that were financed by retired Wall Street broker Henry Clifford of the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, she said in an email exchange.

Call me unimpressed with Geller’s signs, which state that Palestine belongs to solely to Jews and that everyone else needs to get the fuck out — now. This is the sort of attitude that all sides in the Middle East conflict have been hurling at each other for decades now, and I note that it has accomplished absolutely nothing whatsoever. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see how continuing this sort of rhetoric is going to do any good; after all, one of the clichéd definitions of insanity is, “Doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.”

I note that at least one of Geller’s signs is non-factual. Have a look at it:

One of several controversial advertisments is posted at the Cos Cob train station. This ad reads 'Jews have had a continuous presences in Israel for over 3,000 years. Ancient Israel was renamed ''Palestine'' by the conquering Romans in 135 CE. By any name it has always been the Jewish homeland.' Photo: Lindsay Niegelberg / Stamford Advocate. Via the Connecticut Post.

One of several controversial advertisments is posted at the Cos Cob train station. This ad reads ‘Jews have had a continuous presences in Israel for over 3,000 years. Ancient Israel was renamed ”Palestine” by the conquering Romans in 135 CE. By any name it has always been the Jewish homeland.’ Photo: Lindsay Niegelberg / Stamford Advocate. Via the Connecticut Post.

Let’s go over the sign’s claims. First, we have: “Jews have had a continuous presences in Israel for over 3,000 years.” This part is true. The people from whom modern Jews descended, were living in the region, c. 1,000 BCE. So far so good for Geller.

But then we have: “Ancient Israel was renamed ‘Palestine’ by the conquering Romans in 135 CE.” While it’s true that Emperor Hadrian renamed the province “Syria Palaestina” in the early 2nd century CE, it’s absolutely not true that the name “Palestine” was a Roman invention. No way! The Romans followed a precedent that was ancient, even in their own day: Egyptians had known the area as “Peleset” for a millennium or more, and that name ended up becoming “Palaistina” in Herodotus and — yes! — “Pelesheth” in the Old Testament. Far from inventing a previously-unknown name, the Romans merely used an older one that they were aware of.

Lastly we have: “By any name it has always been the Jewish homeland.” This statement obfuscates the facts. The region known as Palestine may be “the Jewish homeland,” but it also happens to be “the Canaanite homeland” and “the Samaritan homeland” as well. Many other peoples have lived there through history: Phoenicians, Syriacs, Philistines, & Arameans, not to mention Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Greeks, and any number of others. Really, the concept of assigned “homelands,” and deciding to which people a region “belongs,” is juvenile and ridiculous in any event. One can select any arbitrary window in history and then say the people who were in a region at that time, “own” it forever and ever. But the odds are, that people moved in there at some point, either adding to or displacing another people who previously had “owned” that region. All of humanity migrated out of Africa, so quite literally, no other area can be said to be the ultimate “homeland” of any people.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: The mature way to respond to one form of religionistic extremism, is not to hurl another form of religionistic extremism back at it. It’s childish, and it’s not going to help anyone.

I’ll close this post by pointing out that the “American Freedom Defense Initiative” is a contradiction in terms. Geller and the other folks behind it, are not promoting true “freedom.” If they had their way, Islam would be outlawed, and very likely so too would be non-belief. That sort of effort is the opposite of “freedom.”

Photo credit, top: Wikimedia Commons; middle, Lindsay Niegelberg / Stamford Advocate, via Connecticut Post.

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Toyota Super Bowl XLVI Ad (still), via (UK) Daily MailA group known as the Parents Television Council — which does not represent “parents” so much as it represents America’s militant Religious Right — is downright furious over this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials. Being modern-day Puritans, they are enraged at the idea that Americans might see anything even remotely suggestive. The Religious Right’s house organ, Fox News, offers this story on their anger and fury (WebCite cached article):

This year’s commercials, which began airing at 6:30 pm, a time when millions of children could be tuning in, were racier and more sexually suggestive than ever, according to the Parents Television Council.

Among the offenders were a hypersexualized Teleflora ad promising your girlfriend will do anything you want if you just order her some flowers; a Toyota Camry ad featuring a couch made of lingerie clad models; and a Fiat commercial where a beautiful model seduces a man on the street, has foam from a drink dripped on her chest, and then turns into a car.

You see, the PTC believes that, because they object to anything risqué being shown on TV, that this means no one in the entire country should be able to see anything risqué on TV. In other words, they’re assuming their own subjective beliefs trump everyone else’s freedoms.

Nice, huh? Unfortunately this is rather routine Religious Right thinking … that they have certain beliefs, ergo, everyone is required to live by them, whether they want to or not.

As a way of “tweaking” these militant Puritans, I’m embedding some of these commercials right here. Enjoy!

To anyone in the Religious Right who might actually have the courage to read this far (I know some of you are out there, I’ve heard from you, after all!): Please take note of something called the Streisand effect; what you make a big deal of complaining about, you actually call attention to, thus spreading it even further than it would have gone, had you simply kept your whiny, juvenile little mouths shut. If you’d just fucking grow the hell up, all these things that so aggravate you would roll off your backs, and no one would be any the wiser.

Photo credit: Still from Toyota ad, via the (UK) Daily Mail.

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JESUS SAVESChristians are a remarkably immature bunch. They think nothing of advertising their beliefs to anyone and everyone, all the time, everywhere; they missionize, they distribute tracts, they put up signs (including bright neon signs), they hold up placards at sporting events, and more. Yet — they seem to think no other types of believers are allowed to advertise their beliefs … and they especially hate when non-believers are the ones doing the advertising (going as far as to destroy non-believers’ signs and level death threats over them).

A sterling example of Christians’ attitude about other religions advertising, can be seen in this story by the Conservative Cybercast News Service about a Muslim group’s ad campaign in Australia (WebCite cached article):

“Jesus: A prophet of Islam” states the provocative tagline in a “public awareness” advertising campaign launched by a Muslim group in Australia’s largest city.

The group, calling itself Mypeace, says its aim is to inform, not offend – but offend it has, with one Catholic bishop calling the assertion about Jesus “a direct assault on Christian beliefs.”

So advertising is “a direct assault”? Seriously? Sorry, bishop, but no. A punch in the face is “a direct assault.” Someone advertising their beliefs, is not. It is, instead, free speech. Something Christians think only they should have, and everyone else must be silent, because they can’t tolerate the idea that there might be a non-Christian lurking around somewhere, trying to destroy them or something.

Christians who think this way — and that would be nearly all of them — are not only being childish, they’re fucking hypocrites. But remarkably, Jesus Christ himself clearly, explicitly and unambiguously forbid his followers — without exception — ever to be hypocritical. His multiple condemnations of hypocrisy in all its forms are both unmistakable and unequivocal. Any offended Christians, including the quoted Julian Porteous, auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, need to fucking grow the hell up for the first time in their sniveling little lives, and accept that there are non-Christians in the world, and they do not, in fact, have to be silent and unseen, just to keep Christians happy.

Another note to Christians: Just because you consider Jesus Christ to have been “the Son of God,” does not mean everyone else on the planet is required to think the same thing about him. This means Muslims are free to consider him a mere “prophet” if they wish to. What right do any of you have to control what other people think about Jesus?

Photo credit: Songkran.

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Hacienda restaurants has apologized and plans to pull down billboards like this in South Bend, Ind., after complaints about the tie-in to the Jonestown cult deaths. Mike Hartman, South Bend Tribune.Planet Earth — Humanity’s Sense of Humor, which originated in primeval times, passed away in South Bend, Indiana, when a restaurant was forced to take down funny billboards which promoted itself as follows: “We’re like a cult, with better Kool-Aid” (cached). This was apparently an unacceptable reference to the Jim Jones cult and attendant “Jonestown Massacre” in which hundreds of people, including a US Congressman, lost their lives.

It is unknown where Sense of Humor was born. It spent its youth traveling widely, but without notice, until it was first studied by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Afterward, Humor enjoyed a celebrated career around the world, bringing joy to literally-uncountable numbers of people in equally-countless venues around the globe, through all of subsequent history. But Sense of Humor had endured criticism during the last few years over being too harsh, insensitive, and irreverent, and this sent it into a melancholy tailspin from which it never recovered.

Sense of Humor leaves behind a sour and intolerant populace, incapable of finding enjoyment in anything, and unwilling to let anyone else find enjoyment, either. Humor’s spouse, Mirth and Merriment, suffers from the same lethargy which afflicted Sense of Humor, and is currently on life support. The Comedy family is not expected to survive the year.

Calling hours will not be held, since gathering to remember Humor fondly may bring forth too many funny memories, which will soon be outlawed, and no memorial service is planned, since no one apparently is going to mourn Humor’s passing.

Update: Additional nails were hammered into the coffin of the barely-cold Sense of Humor, when comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired by insurance company Aflac from his job as the voice of the company’s duck mascot (cached). Gottfried’s offense was to have sent out a few jokes via Twitter, based on the recent Japanese earthquake.

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And nearby seems to be the end of the world?‘Tis the season … for billboards, apparently. I’ve blogged already about the putative “Bible scholar” Harold Camping and his declaration that the Rapture will come on May 21, 2011, and the end of the world will come exactly 6 months later, on October 21, 2011. Apparently, in spite of his previous — failed! — prediction that “the End” would occur in 1994, his crew remains convinced of this lunatic scenario; The Tennessean reports on their advertising campaign (WebCite cached article):

There are 24 shopping days left till Christmas.

And 171 days left until Jesus’ second coming.

That’s the message on 40 billboards around Nashville, proclaiming May 21, 2011, as the date of the Rapture. Billboards are up in eight other U.S. cities, too.

Fans of Family Radio Inc., a nationwide Christian network, paid for the billboards. Family Radio’s founder, Harold Camping, predicted the May date for the Rapture.

The Tennessean doesn’t offer any pictures of the signs in question, but the Friendly Atheist does, and here’s one:

Picture of one of Camping's billboards, courtesy of the Friendly Atheist

Picture of one of Camping's billboards, courtesy of the Friendly Atheist

If you need to know why I’m sure Camping is wrong and has no idea what he’s talking about, I covered all that in my previous post on the matter, and honestly, he’s not worth my having to repeat myself, so I’m not going to duplicate that effort here.

Just a little food for thought: I wonder how many atheists are screeching and railing over these signs, and demanding that they be taken down, because they’re too “in your face.” Offhand, my guess is that none are.

Update: I’ve set up a special page on my blog, counting down to Camping’s predicted Rapture and Armageddon. Just so everyone is prepared … to laugh at Camping’s idiocy, when they fail to come to pass as he predicts.

Hat tip: The Friendly Atheist blog.

Top photo credit: Vlado Stajic.

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Baba Yaga (Zvorykin)In a move I find both refreshing and troubling, the Russian Parliament is considering a law to ban advertising by that country’s occult practitioners. The (UK) Telegraph reports on the proposed legislation and the problems which led up to it (WebCite cached article):

Russian MPs have backed a bill that bans anyone who calls themselves a witch or a wizard from advertising their services in the media in an effort to combat a controversial national obsession with the occult.

According to the Orthodox Church, Russia has 800,000 practitioners of the occult, many of whom advertise in newspaper small advertisements offering cures for alcoholism and spells to lift curses and return errant husbands for a fee. One report claims almost one in five Russians have consulted occult ‘healers’ but MPs have warned they are risking their health and possibly their lives by trusting in such quackery. They say it is time the country grew up.

In a tragic incident this summer, a four-year-old boy in Russia’s Far East suffocated to death during an exorcism ritual carried out by a local healer who was convinced the boy was possessed by a demon.

This particular event was widely reported this summer, by Pravda, among other places (cached).

I’m not sure stifling advertising will really curb the “healers'” activities, though … I’m fairly certain they’ll find ways to announce themselves and make sales, in spite of it. What might be a better idea — instead — is to prosecute those who defraud or harm people, thus encouraging them not to want to bother selling their putative “services” in the first place. This should obviate the need to prevent them from advertising.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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