An anti-child abuse ad, acclaimed for its brutality and the unnerving performance of the child actor who narrates it, has been banned in Ireland because it did not show a woman beating the child — only a man. It is, of course, political correctness gone mad. Hopefully the ban will serve to draw more attention to the commercial on YouTube, which has been seen by 578,698 people so far — equivalent to 9.3 per cent of Ireland’s entire population.
The ad, titled “I can’t wait until I grow up,” was created by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It shows a small boy talking calmly into the camera about his hopes for the future, as a man repeatedly punches, slaps and shakes him:
It initially drew complaints because it was too real — the adult viewers at whom it was aimed said it was too traumatic to be shown on television. But the spot also grew rave reviews from critics who hailed its powerful handling of a message — don’t hit children — that amounts to a cliche. (I called it “gripping stuff” and “a testament to the creative firepower that corporate clients are so often afraid of unleashing” that “deserves to be seen … through the cracks in your fingers” back in May.)
The Irish Advertising Standards Authority, however, received 13 complaints that it was sexist because a man is the one doing the beating. The IASA upheld the complaints, effectively banning the ad from Irish TV, because it broke this advertising rule:
Marketing communications should respect the principle of the equality of men and women. They should avoid sex stereotyping and any exploitation or demeaning of men and women.
The IASA said that “in the absence of reliable statistics” on whether men or women are mostly at fault for violence against children, the ad was too sexist to stay on the air. To its credit, the ISPCC did not take this lying down. It said:
1. Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must feature a woman perpetrator?
2. Are they demanding that any future ads produced by the ISPCC showing abuse of a child must be made on the double showing both a male and a female perpetrator?
The group is right. There are only two sexes and producers have to pick one. The odd thing is that the ad hardly shows the abuser at all, just a back and an occasional fist.
Perhaps realising that they screwed this one up, the IASA then all but invited the ISPCC to appeal its decision:
… the ISPCC can apply for a review of the decision if they consider that any of the procedures involved were deficient or that the decision was made against the weight of evidence.
Given that the decision specifically says that there is no reliable evidence on who abuses children more, its decision was by definition made against the weight of the evidence. The panel also seems to have lost perspective on the fact that if an ad that is so intentionally appalling generates only 13 complaints after running on national TV, then the complainants aren’t ordinary people — they’re outliers.
So, if you know anyone who lives in Ireland, send them the link to the ISPCC video with a message against the IASA. Something good may come of the publicity surrounding this censorship.
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