South Africa's Ban of Anti-Atheist Ad Is Truly Brainless

One complaint dooms billboard

I normally wouldn't side with a church that's using ads to mock unbelievers, but it's hard to understand why the billboard above was banned in South Africa. One complaint—one!—was all it took for the ad, posted outside a suburban Johannesburg church, to be forced down by the country's Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled it was offensive to atheists. "The visuals of a man holding the sides of his empty head suggest that atheists are 'empty-headed' or lack intelligence, presumably as a result of the above 'belief' communicated," the group said in its official ruling. "This is something that would likely offend all atheists in a manner that the [advertising] code seeks to prevent." I realize it's pointless to continue decrying the nanny state of ASA-burdened countries like Britain, New Zealand and Australia. And yes, I understand how "independent" organizations like these theoretically help countries avoid ceding full control of advertising to the government. But when watchdogs feel they have to protect citizens from stylized stock art and theological quotes from British poets, I think we can agree that these pedestrian "controversies" do little more than make people question their faith in the ASA as an omnipotent higher power.