Anti-Catholic prejudice and Hell promotion doesn’t help safe sex
Okay, so condoms are effective and safe sex is in desperate need of promotion. But why do people find it necessary, first, to lash out with attacks on the Catholic Church, and second, to turn a deaf ear to what they have to say? Have they not bothered to listen properly, or do they just hate the Catholic Church because they’re them? Is it because they hate religion and anything to do with it? (I hope not, because it completely ruins the argument that religious extremism can be avoided by secularism.) The anti-Catholics fight with the same tactic that they claim the Catholics are fighting with: hypocriticism and ignorance. Except that the Catholics used neither in their criticising Hell Pizza.
While the anti-religious snap at the chance to take the contraception debate and rub it in the Church’s face, they seem to have missed the point. The NZ Catholic editorial did not criticise Hell Pizza because they were promoting contraception in place of abstinence. They did so because the promotion robbed parents of the chance to avoid it by, say, with television, changing the channel.
Nonetheless, people bombard the Catholic Church with cries on the line of, “Wake up! It’s 2006, not the Dark Ages,” “Your priests are paedophiles,” and, “Don’t you have better things to think about?” Never mind that the Church demonstrated no ignorance in their boycott, merely the opposition to an advertising tactic. Never mind that only a small proportion of priests were in that scandal and that the Church does care. And never mind the countless other issues they do think about, but we don’t hear about. All it really was is an opportunity for the prejudiced to go on the anti-religious rampage, seemingly for the sake of it. So much for tolerance.
The Catholics had every right to find the Hell Pizza promotion unsatisfactory, and they weren’t alone, either. The Advertising Standards Authority upheld hundreds of complaints about the mail promotion because it was not “prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society”. While they didn’t find the promotion itself offensive, they justifiably realised that the delivery of condoms to promote food wasn’t really likely to educate about safe sex, and that circular mail distribution wasn’t going to target the specific groups it needed to (think changing the channel).
To put it bluntly, Hell Pizza can’t seriously have been trying to promote safe sex. They were just trying to sell pizza. How are condoms related? (You mean it wasn’t a mini-pizza? That’s why it was so chewy!) There is room for advertising for humour, but this was plain stupid. Clever, but stupid. They got their fifteen minutes of fame, but they used a medium that was totally irrelevant. Only the most gullible fool could honestly believe that they had set out to educate about sex.
The Catholic views on artificial contraception are completely outdated and somewhat nonsensical, but so what? This was never about those views. This was about an advertisement that breached standards. The Catholic Church had every right to feel offended and to make a stand against it. Don’t judge the Catholics on their little boycott of this pizza chain. They might be backwards, but they’re not blind, and they’re not bad people, either. Ignorance and intolerance won’t help move our society forwards any more than their anti-contraception thing will. So, for what it’s worth, put prejudices aside and listen. Perhaps, then, rather than sit and throw abuse all day, we can truly work on those unwanted pregnancy rates.
- NZ Herald: Boycott Hell Pizza, says Catholic paper (18 December 2006)
- NZ Catholic: Editorial: Month from Hell for pizza chain (19 December 2006)
- Advertising Standards Authority Decision 06/417: Hell Pizza Direct Mail Advertisement (20 December 2006)
- NZ Herald: Gavin Abraham: Why Catholics believe Hell Pizza condom campaign was wrong (21 December 2006)
- NZ Herald: Your views: Catholic ban on Hell pizza (22 December 2006)
For the record, I’m not Catholic, not religious and probably would not have been offended if I had found it in my mailbox (though I didn’t).