The elephant in the room is a god, ad watchdog decides

The elephant in the room is a god, ad watchdog decides November 24, 2017

In September we reported that Hindus were rebuffed by Australia’s Advertising  Standards Board, which found nothing offensive about a humorous lamb ad and rejected calls to ban it.
Well, according to this report, religious pester power finally won out, and the ASB has now imposed a ban, finding that the ad produced by the Meat and Livestock Corporation (MLA) was offensive to those of the Hindu faith.
The ad sang the praises of lamb as the food of the gods, with a message of unity and bringing people of diverse backgrounds together.
At issue is the portrayal of Ganesha, with the board ruling Ganesh got “less favourable treatment” in the ad. The Hindu god is a vegetarian.
In the ad there’s a line about:

Addressing the elephant in the room.

It was the “elephant in the room’ reference which caused the problem, because the deity – who appears in elephant form – was the only one singled out for his physical characteristics.
The phrase “might sound cute and clever”, the Board noted, but to Hindus, Ganesha is “not just an elephant” but rather:

The first deity in all Hindu services, and is considered the remover of obstacles.

It ruled the MLA had not given adequate consideration:

To how seriously some Australians take their religious views – and did not pay due attention to the level of offence about something important to those people.

The Board believed the ad:

Showed more respect to the Islam God Mohammed by not depicting him due, in the Board’s view, to greater profile of that religion in Australian society — with more people likely to know that a depiction would be a breach of a fundamental tenet of that religion.

That part of the ruling could now get the ASB into deep shit with even touchier Muslims, who would find it blasphemous to refer to Mo as a god. “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger,” and all that baloney.
The MLA “respectfully disagrees” with, but acknowledged the new ruling, saying in a statement:

The advertisement was conceived and intended to promote religious inclusiveness in a light hearted and humorous manner.
Most critically, it was never the intention of MLA to discriminate against or vilify any religious group. We confirm that the advertisement is no longer being broadcast.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • Arnold

    I am offended that I am prohibited from seeing this broadcasted again. But I don’t make a public nuisance of myself or embarass myself by whinging and whining like some spoiled fat brat who cannot have yet another candy bar to stuff down his gullet.
    How weak is the faith of the pious and how stupidly disrespectful of their own credibility they are.
    Shouldn’t complain really because the pious are, on a daily, hourly, basis, making complete fools of themselves. So just carry on bleating while the rest of us treat them as the stupefied fools they are.

  • AgentCormac

    FFS, Ganesha looks like a bloody elephant! What on earth is so offensive about articulating that fact?

  • L.Long

    So making fun of an imaginary creature is insulting to people so dim that they think it means something….never underestimate the depth of human stoopidity! But then they are getting other dim people to pay attention.
    The problem is the MLA is it is a selling business, so it is NEVER a good idea to underestimate human stoopidity when trying to sell, so one should NEVER use religion in adds!

  • gedediah

    You can’t win at this game. An objective of all religions is to make any criticism too risky. MLA chickened out of showing Mo and that nod of respect to Islam opened the door for Hindus to complain.

  • barriejohn

    @gedediah: They’re all as jealous as hell about the “respect” shown (for obvious reasons) to Islam. Hindus really have the bit between their teeth now:

  • Angela_K

    Yes, the advertisement is in poor taste because it parodies the real “Elephant man”Joseph Merrick.

  • Smokey

    That’s not Ganesha, Ganesha’s got four arms!

  • Vanity Unfair

    To Smokey:
    And the actor has forearms too.
    Is that eight arms? An octopus?

  • Broga

    “and did not pay due attention to the level of offence about something important to those people.”
    If they are going to pay “due attention” to the offence caused to religious people they will have little time left to do anything else.

  • RussellW

    The ‘Islam God Mohammed’? Yes indeed, the ASB just scored an own goal and the MLA is remarkably naive.

  • AgentCormac

    OT – and I’m sure you’ve all seen this news – but it cannot be overstated that this really is what religion in action looks like: 235 dead and over 100 injured at the al-Rawda mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed. Fellow human beings, blown up and then indiscriminately mown down in a hail of gunfire as they tried to escape, just because they were followers of Sufism, apparently a mystical branch of Sunni Islam, whom jihadist groups like ISIS regard as heretics. Such goodness. Such morality. Such humanity. Such is the curse of religion.
    Can anyone remember a similar story in which atheists were involved? No, me neither.

  • sowa

    Yes, it’s not just an elephant, it’s – gasp! – a bipedal, anthropomorphic elephant, so it makes everything different.
    Eh, another succesful attempt to shut up everyone by crying about supposed discrimination (my arse!). I suspect this decision will only make religionists more bold. Who knows, maybe they’ll revive widow burning under the guise of “religious liberty”? Those people are like that: give them hand, they won’t bite off your arm, they’ll swallow you whole.

  • DOM

    Listen to the ad again and hear what is said about Mo, amazingly they aren’t burning something after that.

  • StephenJP

    Never mind, Arnold (1st post): it is now out there, and the more people fulminate about it, the more they draw attention to it. I thought it was pretty funny, and so did quite a few others, and I think we can be sure that it will be around for as long as people keep copying and resending it.

  • Robster

    This has come about in Oz as the religiously afflicted lost, seriously lost, the recent same sex marriage “survey”. The religionists are kicking up as big a stink as a diminishing minority can, in the hope I suspect that someone notices. The thing is, it make the lot of them look like silly closed minded fools and in the long term that only damage their various undesirable brands and make their superstition offer even less wanted.

  • RussellW

    The religiots can still make mischief by adding ‘religious freedom’ provisions to any bill legalising same sex marriage.

  • 1859

    They want ‘respect’? Respect for what? For humanoid elephants? The slaughtering of infidels? For talking snakes? For feeding 5000 starving people with a few loaves and fishes? They want us non-believers to respect those who believe in such inane, childish nonsense? FFS!!
    I watched the ad several times and it’s overall message was of tolerance for all religions. It was a great, courageous ad, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that I have been a vegetarian for 30 years, I would have run out and bought a dozen packs of Aussie lamb chops.
    I think the boundaries of ‘religious freedom’ have never been clearly laid out. The freedom to believe in whatever sugar-plum fairy takes your fancy is OK, as long as it is, in my opinion, within a ‘private space’. The moment a believer tries to expand or enlarge this ‘private space’ it enters the public sphere – and that’s where the boundaries should be clear and unambiguous…. One day perhaps.

  • barriejohn

    DOM: Fret ye not – the Muslims are up in arms (literally) because the Hindus are defending THEIR god, but according to this Hindu writer, this is all the fault of “tolerant liberals”. (I think maybe he means Marxists/cultural relativists.) Far better, I suppose, to have a state of open warfare, just as long as you are free to defend your own particular deity.