It all started simply enough when a small group from Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers (IAF) purchased the following ad to be run on transit buses in Des Moines.
Within days that seemingly innocuous ad was drawing the ire from some residents including Governor Chet Culver who feigned offense over the obvious, there are actually people in Iowa and elsewhere that don't believe in god.
Gov. Chet Culver weighed in on the controversial Des Moines bus ad that has been yanked after multiple complaints.
“I was disturbed, personally, by the advertisement and I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message that it sent,” Culver said.
The question will likely become a legal battle, Culver said. He deferred questions of whether the group deserves the same free speech rights as Christian organizations to advertise on the buses to the Iowa Attorney General.
Culver also declined to answer if he would also have gotten off the bus had he been a rider, but noted that he would have been offended by the ad’s message.
I wonder how he feels about other obvious facts like the sun rises in the East?
Well anyways the faux outrage had the desired effect and the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority promptly yanked the advertisements several days after they went live using an equally ridiculous reason. Somehow the ads were put up by mistake and were never authorized to go live in the first place. End of story right?
About this time, the small transit bus ad campaign initiated by an equally small group of maybe 125 people in Des Moines, Iowa became a mini national story gaining traction on blogs, Twitter, and news outlets. Also as predicted by Governor Culver, the ACLU got involved questioning the legality of pulling the ads which not only generated more publicity but ended up getting the ads re-instated.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) got involved in the conversation questioning the legality of the actions of DART. After a meeting between the transit authority and the atheist group, the ads went back up. Although IAF was asked to change their ad, they refused and the ads went back up as they were
So instead of a small unoffensive ad campaign proposed for the sides of transit buses running for a few weeks in the middle of nowhere and fading into obscurity, it ends up getting national attention and doubling the membership of the group responsible for the ads. All because a few people cannot deal with reality and allow others to exercise their 1st Amendment rights by keeping their collective mouths shut for the couple of weeks the ads were scheduled to run. As for the ad campaign's success? I would say "Mission Accomplished!"