Dr Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, recently filed this Crikey report (complete with photo) about a new advertising campaign on London buses advising that “nice people take drugs”. Now he has this update:
After only a few days, Release, a drugs and humans rights charity, was told by advertising regulators that the campaign would have to be withdrawn from London buses.
Doesn’t that sound like censorship to you? Doesn’t the response to this slogan simply illustrate the very point that the campaign was trying to make? What is so scary about the thought that some nice people might take drugs?
The Australian Crime Commission’s recent report on illicit drugs estimated that 5.8 million Australians, one third of the population, have tried cannabis at least once. Are all these 5.8 million Australians ‘bad’ people?
Release was told its slogan will have to be toned down before the advertisements can be reinstated. A second campaign may involve more buses.
Sebastian Saville, the chief executive of Release, said that ‘the removal of the “Nice people take drugs” adverts from buses was an overreaction to a legitimate message’.
A spokesman for the company which booked the advertisements said that the advertisements were being removed because the company should have submitted the copy to a regulatory body, the Committee of Advertising Practice.
More information from The Guardian is available here.
This site has apparently had a lot of visits.
A similar incident occurred in the Washington DC public transport system a few years ago and subsequently resulted in a big win for free speech in the courts.