Monday, January 9, 2012

Uncle Ben's Rice versus Free Speech

The following is a letter to forward to Mars Canada following their withdrawal of advertising from Sun TV because of their coverage of the controversial Ontario school curriculum which introduces sexuality to children in Grade 1 -feel free to copy the letter and there is a link below you can use to send it to them. Mars products include Uncle Bens Rice, Wrigleys gum, Pedigree cat food, M&M  candies and Snickers  and Mars Bars:

During the Ontario Provincial election in 2011 the National Post and Sun TV network ran an ad sponsored by a group called The Institute for Canadian Values protesting the proposed Ontario public school curriculum which included teaching children as young as age 7 about sexual issues including gender identity.

Some groups objected to the language of the ad, particularly the term "corrupt" in reference to teaching children to question their gender identity. The National Post subsequently apologized for placing the ad, but Sun TV did not, and featured it in their news broadcasts as a matter of discussion and public debate over the Ontario school curriculum.

Many Canadians are deeply concerned about the poor judgement and potential psychological damage of introducing sexualized education to children too young to comprehend and process such information. The Institute for Canadian Values is closely associated with Reverend Charles McVety, a Canadian clergyman who has voiced strong opposition to Gay marriage. However many Canadians who support Gay marriage and transsexual rights also strongly object to introducing a sexualized curriculum to children younger than 11, regardless of the sexual orientation discussed. 

The curriculum itself was fostered among other places, at the Ontario Institute for Educational Studies (OISE) a radicalized institution with programs that have a declared activist agenda. Many OISE courses and instructors actively promote anti-Capitalist, pro-Marxist, anti-Israel, and racist and/or raced based radical activism and the proposed curriculum reflects that approach.

The McGuinty government in Ontario itself seems conflicted about the issue, having conveyed mixed and obfuscating messages about its intentions about introducing it in schools. Clearly the issue and the range of opinions about it are important parts of public discourse.

Under pressure from activist groups, Mars Canada/Uncle Ben's has withdrawn advertising from Sun News as a result of its allowing the ad and discussion about this important matter of public policy. Mars was clear in saying that it withdrew its advertising because of Sun's coverage of this issue, saying to a blogger:

Dear Mr. Murphy,

Based on feedback from consumers such as yourself, UNCLE BEN'S will not be advertising on Sun TV in 2012. 
We thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns and for your loyalty towards the UNCLE BEN'S brand. 

Rather than simply removing its advertising from Sun TV without comment, by taking this action in concert with the public statement, Mars Canada has effectively taken a position against the free exchange of ideas and links itself with advocates for a sexualized classroom agenda.

As a private concern, Mars Canada is at liberty to associate itself or not associate itself with any organization it chooses.

Mars Canada should be aware that as consumers, we have that same right.

As long as Mars Canada effectively takes a political stand that effectively punishes a news network for addressing an important public issue and continues to boycott Sun TV, I will cease to purchase Uncle Ben's products and  use the many alternatives that Mars’ competitors offer.

If you agree with what you're read, you can copy and send it to Mars Canada at this link, or feel free to make any changes you wish

11 comments:

FieryVulpine said...

Done and done.

Though I will the Mars bars.

Richard K said...

I hpe they change their minds. I have to admit it'll be hard giving up peanut M & M's

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that this is being framed as an issue of freedom of speech. Uncle Ben's didn't tell FoxNewsNorth to stop running the ads, they merely said that they don't want to be affiliated with the attitude behind those ads. Since they come quite close to the definition of hate speech under Canadian law, I'm not surprised.

Richard K said...

I agree that MARS has the right to be affiliated or not with anything it chooses, but the way they framed it is that they are not going to be associated with the network because it is dealing with this controversial and important issue.

Personally, I think the use of the word "corrupt" in the ad was a poor choice, but I think you'll find it came nowhere near the legal definition of "Hate Speech." If you do, you should file a complaint with the Toronto Police Hate Crimes Unit.

As to the larger issue of teaching sexualized curriculum to very young children, this is a very important issue and indicative of a large push to politicize curriculums within Ontario schools. Absolutely, children should be taught it’s wrong to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, and people familiar with this blog know that I am against discrimination against the transsexual community. In fact, when I covered Trans Pride last summer, I heard from many Trans people that they felt they were facing discrimination from within the Gay/Lesbian community. But that has nothing to do with the propriety of whether it is appropriate to teach young children about gender identity at the age of 7. Before they are experiencing the physical and hormonal changes that make them capable of understanding such issues, it is counterproductive and as the ad says, confusing. It's certainly not the purpose of school. By Mars taking the position it has, it is essentially saying, this debate is off limits the way Sun TV approached it, and that is taking a clear political stand.

CQ said...

An odd stance, given their post Nipple-gate 2007 Superbowl ad for Snickers:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17011630/ns/business-us_business/t/snickers-ad-pulled-after-complaints-gays/
Or 2011's:
http://politicallyillustrated.com/index.php?/news_page/features/2335/

Anonymous said...

@Richard

There are certainly age-appropriate ways to discuss gender identity with children, and I see it as my responsibility to do so whenever possible.

You see, I was one of those seven-year-olds once upon a time, and what confused me when I learned about puberty (yes, before it started to happen to me!) was that nobody talked about people like me, with bodies like mine.

I grew up thinking I was the only person on earth that felt the way I did. And do you know what? Being taught that I didn't exist didn't stop me from figuring myself out eventually. All the damage came from the message that I was so wrong and deviant that I shouldn't even be mentioned.

The idea that we shouldn't tell kids about trans people because it might confuse them is just like the idea that talking to kids about suicide will 'give them ideas'. It just reinforces the stigma.

shaed said...

Trans kids need to know about trans issues, and most seven year olds are more capable of understanding trans people than many adults I know. Gender is not something that develops suddenly at puberty. The idea that kids would be "confused" by knowing that trans people exist is bullshit rooted in bigotry.

I have no problem with Mars taking a stand against bullshit rooted in bigotry.

Richard K said...

Trans kids? The idea that a prepubescent child has a sexuaized identity beyond their birth gender is dubious science. It's the same kind of logic that guides fanatics to think it's okay to give hormone blockers to little kids who have been socialized to think they're the opposite gender, when they might be better off with psychiatric treatment.

If an adult who has experienced puberty makes the decision that they are best off being another gender, I respect that decision and support it, but pre-pubescent children lack the psychological and physical maturity to be able to arrive at any kind of decision that inalterable. Nature rarely makes decisions that require surgery to enforce.

Anonymous said...

Also done.

Mark Andrews

Richard K said...

Great Mark - let's hope they get enough of a response to do something. I don't want to boycott M&M's any longer than I have to!

KURSK said...

Saed,

You mean the type of bigotry and intolerance that leads publicly financed educators to create policy that takes sex education out of the parent's hands? ..and then lie to their faces that they have done so?..mainly because they feel that they, and the nanny state, can do a better job of parenting?

You mean that type of bigotry?