Robertson: Billboard Companies Should Refuse Atheist Ads


Here’s a perfect example of how so many right wing Christians in this country throw a fit about Muslim attempts to silence their critics but demand the same thing for themselves. And it comes from Pat Robertson, who argues that billboard companies have every right to refuse to put up an atheist billboard because Christians might be offended by what it says.

He’s wrong about the legal issue, by the way. And he would know he was wrong if a billboard company refused to put up an ad with a Christian message. If that happened, he would be screaming about how persecuted Christians are and how outrageous such discrimination is. But they are covered by the same laws. The Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination by private companies on the basis of religion; that doesn’t just protect the religious, it also protects the non-religious from attempts by the religious to discriminate against them.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    Robertson: Billboard Companies Should Refuse Atheist Ads

    …or your billboard could accidentally catch fire or something, if you catch my drift.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Posting this right on the heels of the one with Romney complaining that religion has been excluded from the public square is hilarious. Have you ever considered a career in comedy?

  3. says

    The more I look at fundies and wingnuts, the more I worry that the very concepts of equality, objectivity, and the rule of law might be vanishing from the American popular consciousness. It’s all double-standards.

  4. alanb says

    And this from a man with a law degree. But to be fair to Robertson, he does appear to be getting pretty close to senility.

  5. DaveL says

    Doesn’t the Civil Rights Act only forbid discrimination in “Public Accomodations” , e.g. restaurants, hotels, etc?

  6. d cwilson says

    alanb @4:

    And thanks to the deal he has with ABC Family (which ABC inherited when they bought the channel from Fox), so long as he is sucking air, he could be drooling, incontinent, and unable to be even aware of where he is, and they’ll still have to give him a platform.

  7. thalwen says

    @4 In that case, there are a lot of fundie “legal” thinkers that are suffering from senility. And this guy actually founded a law school, to train up the next generation of legal illiterates.

  8. M Groesbeck says

    @5 —

    As I understand it (IANAL), if you offer a service for sale to the public (advertising space, in this case), that service is being offered as a “public accommodation”.

  9. DaveL says

    @10,

    I’ve heard that interpretation before, but that’s not how the “Public Accomodations” section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 actually reads. If true, then there must be additional statutes (federal or state) and case law involved. Does anybody know what these might be?

  10. DaveL says

    So far I’ve found the Unruh Civil Rights Act in California, whose protections are quite broad and cover “all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”

    In Michigan, I’ve so far found the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976, which defines “public accomodation” as “a business, or an educational, refreshment, entertainment, recreation, health, or transportation facility, or institution of any kind, whether licensed or not, whose goods,
    services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations are extended, offered, sold, or otherwise made
    available to the public.”

  11. raven says

    And this from a man with a law degree. But to be fair to Robertson, he does appear to be getting pretty close to senility.

    C’mon, no fair.

    Robertson appears to be a drooling, mumbling moron on the far side of senility.

    The problem is…he has always appeared this way, even 30 years ago. We will never, ever know if it happens because there is no way to tell.

    My personal theory is that he died long ago, and his handlers just reanimate him occasionally, give him a script, and hope he doesn’t try to eat their brains instead.

  12. lofgren says

    He’s an idiot. Parents are probably idiots, too.

    If you ever have a kid that acts like that, I’ll disown you.

  13. Midnight Rambler says

    He’s an idiot. Parents are probably idiots, too.

    His father was a Senator, and an idiot (but I repeat myself). He was a stauch segregationist.

  14. says

    Bronze Dog “The more I look at fundies and wingnuts, the more I worry that the very concepts of equality, objectivity, and the rule of law might be vanishing from the American popular consciousness. It’s all double-standards.”
    To be fair, it was double standards before, too, as African-Americans, women, Catholics, Mormons, etc, can attest.

  15. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    CRA 1964 reads:
    Sec 201, Para B, Sub 3:

    (3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and…(continues to Sub 4, not relevant here).

    “Place of exhibition” has been interpreted to include “public fora” which has been interpreted to include billboard services offered to the public.

    Of course, this isn’t even so necessary anymore, because the CRA you’re referencing has been amended many times and any business offering goods or services to the general public may be subject to the public accommodation provisions. Though there are exceptions, there is a presumption that if you offer goods and/or services to the general public, the public accommodation provision applies to you.

    Your main problem lies in assuming that the CRA of 1964 is still extant in its unamended form, but also you’re forgetting that it is up to judges to determine what the words of a law mean in practice … and in this case “place of exhibition” means not only places where the general public go to experience private exhibitions, but places that offer to the general public the ability to exhibit.

    It may not seem like it reads that way to you, but that’s how it was determined to read. (And for good reason – there wasn’t really too much debate about this…the debate about public accommodations, such as it was, was tailored more narrowly.)

  16. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ooops. I take back that you failed to consider case law. You did, you just didn’t know what it would be. My bad.

    Do you need the current language of the amended CRA? I’m not sure if it was in the 1968 CRA or if it was amended in the early 70s, but IIRC it must have been amended by 1980.

    BTW: It’s also true that “public accommodation” has one use in statutes and another in common speech. When the laws were being expanded (after a series of cases in which SCOTUS upheld the ability of the federal gov’t to regulate the ability of private businesses to restrict clientele on the basis of [primarily] race and religion) at both the state and federal levels, many argued that “public accommodation” should have the common meaning of a service to the public.

    Although laws weren’t rewritten to include a new definition of public accommodation that would be so inclusive, they were rewritten to include other things in addition to public accommodations…typically in the same or following clause as that including the words “public accommodation”. In public debate “places of public accommodation and other service providers as well as those who retail to the general public and a few other types of businesses” became – rhetorically at least – “public accommodations”.

    It’s the sound bite culture, y’know?

  17. criticaldragon1177 says

    Ed Brayton

    I wonder if he realizes how offensive many of his messages are to the American mainstream, not just atheists.

  18. Ichthyic says

    My personal theory is that he died long ago, and his handlers just reanimate him occasionally, give him a script, and hope he doesn’t try to eat their brains instead.

    I hear they did that with Walt Disney too. :)

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