Advertising Standards Authority ‘Persecutes Cranmer’

This is extraordinary!

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.

The advertisement in question is reproduced above. His Grace would like to make it clear to the ASA that he is reproducing this ‘offensive and homophobic’ advertisement as an educative illustration of allegedly offensive and homophobic advertising; not as an offensive and homophobic advertisement per se. Naturally, His Grace apologises in advance to all those who find this educative illustration offensive and homophobic, for it is never his intention to be either offensive or homophobic. But those of you who do find it offensive and homophobic are free not to visit His Grace’s blog whenever you wish.

The specific complaint relates to:

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”.

The ‘Issue’ here is that 24 anonymous complainants, ‘including the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group’ (doubtless disclosd to give weight to the allegations), 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 ads were ‘offensive’ and ‘homophobic’, and he is requested to respond to these allegations ‘under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 4.1 (Harm and offence)’.

He is informed:

We intend to deal with the complaint as a formal investigation, which means it will be considered by the ASA Council. We will then draft a recommendation for the Council based on your response to us. Once the Council has made a decision, the adjudication will be published on our website.

We require you to explain your rationale for the ad and comment specifically on the points raised in the attached complaint notification

They need to see ‘robust documentary evidence to back the claims and a clear explanation from you of its relevance and why you think it substantiates the claims. It is not enough to send references to or abstracts of documents and papers without sending the reports in full and specifically highlighting the relevant parts explaining why they are relevant to the matter in hand’.

Well, His Grace won’t be censored. He is further minded to provide the ASA with a copy of his well-publicised ‘bottom line’ (from the right-hand margin):

Freedom of speech must be tolerated, and everyone living in the United Kingdom must accept that they may be insulted about their own beliefs, or indeed be offended, and that is something which they must simply endure, not least because some suffer fates far worse.

Unless, of course, we are no longer free, our democracy is no longer liberal, and it is now an offence to express the moderate view of the majority and promote the orthodox teaching of the Church of England Established.

I am speechless. What is possibly offensive about the advert? The research is quoted from a ComRes poll, one of the leading agencies in the country. In that survey people were asked a specific question, namely “Do you agree or disagree with the statement ‘Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman’?”. You can see from the data table I’ve linked to that 70% of people did indeed answer “Yes”.

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.

If you’re interested in downloading the advert to use on your own website, simply click here. Alternatively, you might like the one below.

Let the reader understand.

27 Comments on “Advertising Standards Authority ‘Persecutes Cranmer’

  1. Yeah, the ASA have gone seriously bonkers. I’m in favour of marriage equality, and I think the whole anti campaign by the Coalition for Marriage Inequality (to give it a more truthful name) is nothing but balmpot scaremongering: the true meaning of marriage is faithful commitment “for as long as we both shall live” and it’s the hetero community that have wrecked it and brought the institution into disrepute with all their promiscuity and take-it-or-leave-it easy divorce attitudes; I also think Cranmer is an extremist right-wing nutjob, all the more so as he doesn’t allow me to post comments on his blog; but all that said I’m against censorship like this. So, in the politest possible sense, up yours the ASA!

    •  Not sure I get the logic on either side.  Why is the ASA asking Cranmer these questions and not C4M?  OTOH I don’t see how asking questions, even of the wrong person, is censorship.  Has anyone yet been asked, or told, to stop carrying the advert? Surely the ASA have a responsibility to investigate complaints – and we have yet to hear whether they are upheld.

  2. (to clarify: it may not be Cranmer personally blocking my comments; could be his spam filter doesn’t like me because I’m a leftwing loony liberal; but hey…)

    • ‘Leftwing loony liberals’ are often to be found commenting on His Grace’s blog; let me reassure you that any difficulties you are experiencing are probably of a technical nature only.  

  3. Where can I get the code for the advert? I would like to include it on my own modest website.

  4. Yep. This is nuts, and a direct affront to free speech. (And from the point of view of my own ‘side’ hideously counter-productive!)
    By the way - @philgroom:disqus if you think Cranmer is an extremist right-wing nutjob, then I would respectfully submit that you have never met a real extremist right-wing nutjob. Come to General Synod and I’ll introduce you to a few…

  5. I also agree that  ‘Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman’ so would have been in the ‘Yes!’ camp.  However, I ALSO believe that a life-long exclusive commitment between two people of the same-sex should also be able to be called marriage. I do not believe that traditional marriage is under threat in any way at all if same-sex marriage is allowed – furthermore I’d like to see what proportion of people in the UK would agree with me on that point.

    • Ha!

      Let me ask you one question – in order to equalise marriage so it is gender-neutral, what aspects of current marriage law will have to be dropped?

      •  Nothing important that I can think of – and nothing that I consider to be part of the essential nature of marriage.  Trad marriage will still be trad marriage, anyway, so they won’t have to ‘drop’ anything from their understanding – just be gracious and magnanimous enough to allow those for whom ‘trad’ marriage is inappropriate to be considered married in the eyes of the law.

        • So do you or do you not recognise that there *will* be some changes. I’m not asking if you personally think they’re important or not, all I want is a simple yes or no that you recognise that these proposals will mean changes to the marriage law affecting all those currently married.

          Very simply – yes or no?

          • No. Existing marriages will still be exactly the marriages they were.  New marriages will be marriages ‘defined in law’ in a gender neutral way – but the essence of marriage will be unchanged.  No-one will be preventing heterosexual couples from getting married just because homosexual couples will be allowed the same privilege and existing marriages won’t suddenly be null and void. 

            So exactly what do you have in mind that you believe would be so significant as to change the essential nature of marriage in both law and common understanding for everyone?

              •  I suppose literalism rears its head in all sorts of places as does a preoccupation with the act of sex.  The ‘one-fleshness’ of sex is a symbol of the unifying of hearts and minds.  I don’t really care to enquire too closely in this modern age into exactly what people are getting up to in bed – and that goes for heterosexual marrieds as well as homosexual couples.  So long as the physical sex is consensual, non-abusive and intended to nurture the intimacy of their committed, lifelong and loving relationship I’d be happy to see it as consummation.  If that requires a change in the law then I’d say that it is a no-brainer for everyone regardless of sexuality.

                • Define consummation in a manner that will be gender-neutral. Does it involve penetration? Orgasm? Stop dodging the question and answer.
                  But here’s the thing Andrew, I don’t think you can and I think you know that you can’t. You droll on about how heterosexual marriage won’t change, but your refusal to answer this question just demonstrates that you know that *any* definition you give indicates a change in the law affecting your marriage and my marriage.
                  So out with it. Define consummation in a manner that will be legally adequate and that covers all possible spouse combinations. Or, if you can’t or won’t, go and take your blatant inconsitencies and cowardly dodging of the real issues somewhere else.

                  • It’s not a refusal to answer the question – just that I don’t see the relevancy of it in the way you pose it. Why does consummation need exactly defining in the manner you desire?  My marriage is not, and was not defined by the presence or absence of a specific act of sex, so why do you feel your marriage is so threatened?

                    • Yes it was. You may refuse to accept that the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act affects you, but it does.
                      Answer the question and define consummation in a gender-neutral fashion. Or are you proposing that your wife having sex with someone else should no longer be valid grounds for divorce?

                    • If it helps I will quote my original answer so that my understanding is a little more obvious.
                      Consummation is physical sexual intimacy that is “consensual, non-abusive and intended to nurture the intimacy of the committed (exclusive), lifelong and loving relationship” that is the essence of marriage. 

                      The only thing I’ve added to clarify this even further in order to answer your other question is the word ‘exclusive’ – so physical sexual intimacy with a third party does threaten a marriage, whatever the specific act involved.  Would a married Gay man having a sexual relationship with another man not give grounds for divorce from his wife, even though it doesn’t involve an act traditionally necessary for consummation of marriage?

                    • So this is your proposal for the change in the legal definition? Can you define how an act is determined as “intended to nurture the intimacy of the committed blah blah blah”. Or to put it another way, if I have sex with your wife and then stand up in court and claim that it was intended to nurture your marriage to your wife and my marriage to my wife, you would happily accept that I hadn’t committed adultery?

  6. According to Mr Addison just one small clause which presently makes any marriage other than between opposite sex couples invalid.
    But I have found several of his recent pronouncements just a little off the wall!

  7. Peter, formatting won’t allow me to post a reply on the existing thread.  I wasn’t aware that adultery was the point of issue but consummation.  Unfaithfulness, ie any sexual relationship with a third party, breaks the requirement of sexual exclusivity and clearly furnishes grounds for divorce – unless one gets Clintonesque about it.

    OTOH, so far as I understand it, consummation is NOT required for a marriage to be considered legal.  Lack of consummation MAY give grounds for a marriage to be considered void IF either party makes application for this – though, interestingly, not if it is the partner who refuses to consummate the marriage who applies for it to be voided.  So, a couple who choose not to consummate a marriage, or who happily accept their marriage without consummation, are still legally married because any application to Void their marriage must come from either or both of them.  I don’t see any way for a third party trying to have someone else’s marriage declared void on the grounds that it wasn’t consummated.

    As a legal layman I can’t see why this would not give reasonable precedent for a homosexual couple to consider themselves legally married even if they can’t consummate their marriage according to a heterosexual definition – and that’s without the minor change necessary to define consummation as exclusive, physical intimacy.  However, I’ll happily leave the detail on any legal proposals to those better qualified in the art of lawmaking.

    consensus, non
    concubitus, facit nuptias

    • So basically, you’re saying that you recognise that the current legal definition of consummation won’t work for gender-neutral marriage. But at the same time you insist that absolutely nothing will change in the way the law views your marriage?
      And how is this not contradictory?

      • Not at all.  I’m saying that consummation is not as important as you claim (how can it be if it is not even vital for marriage?) and that the exact definition is irrelevant.  The sex that binds people together in a relationship is exactly that – and specifically what they like to get up to in bed is largely their business not the state’s (unless it is abusive or non-consensual or breaks their covenant of exclusivity).

  8. In slight defence of the ASA, they have an obligation to investigate complaints that they receive. It isn’t their role, at that point, to prejudge that and dismiss any complaints out of hand however daft they may appear to a neutral observer.

    The real villains here are the small knot of anti-freedom campaigners (and I’m pretty sure it’s an orchestrated series of complaints) who are determined to shut down any hint of opposition to their views.

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