A paid-for video ad on Twitter and a Video On Demand (VOD) ad for Royal Mail:
a. The video ad on Twitter, seen on 27 July 2017, featured a scene with customers and staff in a bank. A short while later a gang of men in balaclavas with baseball bats entered the bank and shouted, This is a robbery. The staff and customers in
the bank were made to get on their knees with their hands held up and were threatened with the baseball bats. One female member of staff was grabbed repeatedly by the shoulder and the wrist and asked her full name and date of birth by one of the
assailants. Other customers were asked similar questions about their personal identity, passwords and log-in details, while a member of the gang appeared to type the information on a hand-held electronic tablet. One customer offered a gang member
money to which he said, We don't want your money. Throughout the scene the members of the public, which included a child, were shouted at aggressively by the assailants, appeared scared and some were crying. One gang member asked another, Got it?
they replied, Got it all, after which the gang left the bank. On-screen text stated Your identity is now your most valuable possession. Text at the end of the ad stated, LET'S BEAT IDENTITY FRAUD followed by text that stated Visit our ID Fraud
Centre for help and advice, accompanied by the Royal Mail logo and the text, The future in safe hands.
b. The VOD ad, seen on ITV Player on 9 August 2017 at approximately 9.00 pm during an episode of Coronation Street, was the same as ad (a).
Seven complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were likely to cause fear and distress without justifiable reason, particularly for those who had been victims of violence, and whether ad (b) was inappropriately placed at a time when children
could have been viewing.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that Royal Mail had sought and followed advice regarding the ad's placement from Clearcast and CAP's Copy Advice team, and acknowledged that the ad had not been shown on VOD before 9 pm. We concluded therefore, that it was unlikely
that children had seen ad (b).
We acknowledged that identity fraud was a growing problem and it was important that steps were taken to inform the general public about how serious it was and how they could protect themselves. While we understood that the scenario of a bank
robbery was chosen to emphasise the seriousness of the crime, we noted that this was not among the common scenarios in which identity fraud was perpetrated. As a result, we considered that consumers would not be able to clearly see from the ad how
they could protect themselves, for example by avoiding certain actions that could make them potentially vulnerable to identity fraud. We noted the ads' reference to the Royal Mail's ID fraud centre, but it did not appear until the very end of the
ad, during which time the scenario was presented without explanation or context.
Furthermore, because the setting of the ad was recognisable and showed ordinary people, including a child, being shouted at aggressively by criminals, lying on the floor and trying to hide behind furniture, and looking visibly frightened, the
impact was heightened and there was an added sense of threat. Because of this, we considered it to be reminiscent of other crimes or situations that people may have experienced that extends beyond the bank robbery depicted and therefore could
trigger negative emotions for those who had been victims of violence. We did not consider that the use of baseball bats made the ad less violent than if knives and guns had been used, as the bats were often shown held in a threatening manner by
the criminals or positioned next to customers heads.
We understood Royal Mail and ITV's view that the ad served to highlight a serious and growing crime and to assist customers to find information to protect themselves. We noted from the results of the test sample of viewers that the ad may have
increased ID fraud awareness for those who had seen it. We also noted that Royal Mail had amended the Twitter ad so that a warning appeared accompanying the video and that they did not intend to use the ad again. However, we considered that the
overall presentation of the ads, as seen by the complainants, was excessively threatening and distressing to the extent that it overshadowed the message the ad intended to convey. We concluded the ad was likely to cause fear and distress to
viewers, in particular to victims of violence, without a justifiable reason.
We told Royal Mail to ensure that in future their ads did not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason.
The Runnymede Trust is a campaign group seeking racial equality in the UK. It describes
its approach as:
In order to effectively overcome racial inequality in our society, we believe that our democratic dialogue, policy, and practice, should all be based on reliable evidence from rigorous research and thorough analysis.
The group has just issued a report on a range of issues that it gathers together under the title of Islamophobia. It notes that the term has a wide range of meanings but proposes a new and more tightly defined pair of definitions:
Short definition: Islamophobia is anti-Muslim racism.
Longer definition: Islamophobia is any distinction, exclusion, or restriction towards, or preference against, Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
It is interesting to consider the concept of massively changing the meaning of a word to suit the purposes of a political campaign group. The meaning of words belong to the people that use them, not to the dictates of a political campaign group.
Political correctness tries to impose a lot of 'correct' terms for people, or groups of people. But language has a lot of defences against unnatural imposition. Words can be intonated to add 'quotes' to imply ironic usage. Also out of place words
prompt the listener to ask 'why was that unexpected formal word being used'? What are they getting at?. Perhaps it could mean a telling off for previous wrong speak in the conversation, or perhaps it is a warning that PC sensitive issues
would be best avoided.
And of course if a formally imposed polite word eventually becomes the norm it loses the politeness of formality, and can then be used in a disparaging way, and so we have to start work evolving a new polite word.
So if political correctness demands that the word 'Islamophobia' is used as an accusation of racism, then surely the word will forever be used in quotes to show that people consider this an accusation too far. And of course it is not beyond
the wit of man to dream up a few new words to replace it, maybe even a more positive term meaning reasonable criticism of Islam.
Bosses of Knox College in Illinois have banned a student play in the name of political correctness. A few easily offended students had whinged about a performance of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, saying that it was too white
and racially insensitive.
Peter Bailley, a Knox College spokesman said that campus leaders are proud of the open dialog between our students and faculty.
The play, which is about a Chinese sex worker who seeks to do good deeds, drew complaints that it stereotypes Asian women and that it engages in whitewashing because whites would be cast in nonwhite roles.
The Knox Student newspaper editorial board calling the play racist and the department very white ... like many departments at Knox. The editorial continued:
The theatre department ... needs to acknowledge that they are coming from a place of privilege and prejudice. They need to listen to their students when they voice their concerns about not only the plays the department produces, but interactions
with insensitive faculty and problematic syllabi,
[I can now see where the US counter campaign is coming from with its posters proclaiming simply: It's OK to be white].
A Swedish daycare centre's trip to the local library in Borås took an unexpected turn recently and ended in a police report being filled over racial agitation.
According to GT, Expressen, the daycare children were listening to a CD of various Pippi Longstocking stories when another library user became 'offended' by the description of Pippi's father as a 'Negro king' and ludicrously filed a formal
complaint with police. It was noted that there were children of various ethnic backgrounds among the daycare group.
The head of the daycare institute, Marie Gerdin, described the incident as "sad" and said she had assumed that the library materials were appropriate for children.
After the police report was referred to the chancellor of justice, it was sensibly determined that there would be no further action.
The first four Pippi books were published between 1945 and 1948 and in addition to the description of Pippi's father as a "Negro king", the titular character is also at times referred to as a "Negro princess". The title was
earned in the originals when Pippi's father proved a hit amongst natives during an adventure in the South Seas. English translations have 'translated' the father's title to the 'fat white chief' and refer to Pippi as the 'fat white chief's
Australia's advert censor has dismissed a swath of complaints about supposedly offensive Sportsbet adverts that some felt denigrated Christians.
A Sportsbet advertising campaign which used the word Puntmas to describe the racing season has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Bureau following complaints of blasphemy.
The ads feature four men at the racetrack, humming and singing Christmas carols, with a voiceover promoting a new feature of the betting app which allows users to cancel their bets. They end with an appearance from former sprinter Ben Johnson who
featured in an earlier ad for the bookmaker which was banned for making light of drug use .
The Advertising Standards Board received a number of complaints, many of which took issue with the association of Christmas and gambling. For them to use it in a gambling ad reaches new lows in the gambling industry, one complaint read.
Regrettably, we live in an era where it has become acceptable to denigrate our Christian heritage, another said. This advertisement deliberately tries to associate gambling with the spirit of Christmas. No doubt gambling will ruin Christmas for
many families this year. I find this ad to be in very poor taste.
One person said it was beyond offensive to associate betting with one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, while another said they especially don't want my children to recognise the tune and start to relate Christmas and gambling.
In its response, Sportsbet rejected that the ads in any way discriminated against or vilified any section of the community on account of religion.
The Advertising Standards Board sided with Sportsbet, dismissing the complaints. In its determination, it said many members of the community consider Christmas as a cultural holiday more so than a religious one. [Though] Christmas has
significant meaning to some, the use of 'Puntmas' in the context of a promotion of a gambling product may be considered tasteless but such a connection of words does not denigrate Christianity or Christians, the ASB said.
It is now OK to say 'fuck' on French-language broadcasts in Canada, thanks to a new ruling by the country's TV censors.
The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that the word has become such a part of French-Canadian vernacular that it's no longer too vulgar to speak on air.
The CBSC note that the English word 'fuck' does not have the same vulgar connotation when used in French, the council said in a statement. The word can be exclaimed at any time of day.
The council made the change after it received complaints about two clips aired on the French-language Canadian radio station CKOI-FM. One of the clips featured Madonna saying fuck you during the Women's March in Washington, D.C., while the
other was an aired excerpt of a Green Day concert where singer Billie Joe Armstrong says, What the fuck?! I'm not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfuckers!
There are still restrictions on the word during daytime broadcasts. The use of the word must be infrequent and the word cannot be used to insult or attack an individual or group.
A magazine ad for Condé Nast Traveller Magazine seen in Glamour Magazine on 22 June 2017 featured a model posed on a beach.
A complainant believed the model looked unhealthily thin and challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA considered that while the model appeared to be in proportion, the angle of the image drew attention to her slimness, particularly her legs which looked very long and thin. We also noted that she was part way through twisting and that the
outline of her body could be seen through her top, emphasising the narrowness of her waist. We acknowledged that the ad was for a travel magazine and that its focus was not supposed to be on the model or her clothes; however, we considered that
the model was the focal point of the image, therefore we concluded that the ad made the model look unhealthily thin and that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Condé Nast Publications Ltd to ensure that in the future their ads were prepared responsibly.
Kenyan censors have banned a show on Disney channel from airing in Kenya, citing the introduction of a gay character for its second
The Disney Channel made history recently after it introduced a gay storyline to its popular show, Andi Mack , for its second season. In the show, 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman comes out as gay and confesses to his best friend that he has a
crush on cool kid Jonah Beck.
Kenya Film Classification Board boss Ezekiel Mutua said the programme would not be allowed to air in the country. Mutua announced the sanction on his Facebook timeline, saying his organisation was unapologetic when it comes to protecting children
from content that he termed inappropriate and warned that gay content would not air in Kenya.
Following the complaints and ban, Multichoice Kenya issued a statement saying it had contacted its channel provider, Disney, and confirmed that the show was not scheduled to air on DStv and GOtv.
Update: Disney decides to pull Andi Mack from all of Africa
Staff at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo have received death threats over a cartoon of the muslim academic Tariq
Ramadan who has been accused of rape by two women.
The Charlie Hebdo take on the case was a cartoon depicting Ramadan sporting an impossibly enormous erection (inside his trousers) with the caption: I am the sixth pillar of Islam.
The Paris prosecutor's office has now opened a police inquiry into the death threat.
Laurent Riss Sourisseau, the magazine's editor, said the threats and hate mail had never really stopped after the January 2015 jihadist attack in which 12 people were gunned down at its offices. He said:
It's always difficult to know if these are serious threats or not, but as a principle, we take them seriously and press charges.
Libya's second Comic Con event was brought to a sudden end on Friday when an Islamist paramilitary group raided it,
citing a range of offences against Islam.
According to a report, the so-called RADA Special Deterrence Forces (SDF) paramilitary group detained and assaulted some 20 fans. They also seized computers and other equipment, saying that Libya was not a free/liberal country.
They arrested over 20 people. Organisers, participants and visitors. Anyone who was wearing a badge, including visitors, were arrested.
The organiser said that the militants told the detainees that they were rescuing the youth from Comic Con, an event they called destructive and foreign to Islam and Libya, and that they had committed large number of crimes against public morals.
These included agnosticism, atheism, masonic ideas, believing in Halloween, distorting the minds of youth and even abandoning Islam altogether.
The organiser ironically noted that the islamists claimed to be concerned about supposed pious morality but had no problem with real violence saying:
Some of those who were released had received a beating, had had their head shaved bald and were given a religious lecture. They were told that Libya was a Muslim country not a free/liberal country.
On 22 September 2017, a poster of André Téchiné's film Nos Années Folles was removed from the wall of the
Jeanne d'Arc cinema in Paris by a public servant due to it featuring nudity and a transvestite man, reported Le Figaro .
The row over the poster started when the president of the catholic association, which runs the private primary school Notre-Dame du Sacré Coeur, contacted Marielke Fleury, who runs the Jeanne d'Arc cinema, to demand the poster be removed because
it featured content that children could see on their way to school given that the poster was on the outside of the cinema.
The Senlis Parish Schools Management Organization (Ogeps) described itself as "mediator" in the conflict and took complaints from parents and school administrators to the cinema. One of its public servants then asked for the key to
access the poster on 22 September 2017 and took the poster down.
In response to the removal, Fleury posted a sign in place of the removed poster which read: "poster censored by Ogeps".