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CBS rejects NORML legalization billboard, but accepts “Black Children are an Endangered Species” anti-abortion billboard

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 15, 2010

    This fifteen second Flash animation from NORML touting the economic benefit of marijuana legalization was too objectionable to CBS, who canceled NORML’s contract to place the following on the giant “Super Billboard” in Times Square:

    We also noted the hypocrisy of telling us that NORML’s ad was too contentious an issue ad for the billboard while running – on Super Bowl Sunday – the controversial Focus on the Family anti-abortion ad featuring college QB Tim Tebow and his mother:

    Now courtesy of Huffington Post we can show you another acceptable advertisement for CBS Billboards in Atlanta:

    CBS Atlanta Billboard

    ...but this billboard in Atlanta is perfectly acceptable

    It does not matter which side of the abortion debate you lie, you can certainly agree that abortion is one of the most contentious and controversial issues of our times. NORML, Focus on the Family, and the African-American anti-abortion outreach group Life Education and Research Network that funded these latest Atlanta billboards are all non-profit advocacy organizations lobbying for very controversial issues.

    However, the anti-abortion groups seem to have no trouble getting their message out on CBS airwaves and billboards, while NORML is denied four times in two years the opportunity to pay to use the same airwaves and billboards.

    I also find it interesting that the groups whose messages are accepted by CBS are trying to criminalize a legal activity (abortion), a policy position only supported by 42% of the American people surveyed in the latest Quinnipiac University poll; whereas NORML’s message of legalization rejected by CBS is a policy position supported by 44% to 53% of the American people surveyed lately by Gallup and Angus Reid. Even more interesting when CBS itself polled support for legalization at 41%.

    85 Responses to “CBS rejects NORML legalization billboard, but accepts “Black Children are an Endangered Species” anti-abortion billboard”

    1. Matt W. says:

      Unbelievable! As an Atlanta resident I find it extremely OFFENSIVE and frankly DISGUSTING that CBS would show a billboard referring to aborted black children as “an endangered species”. . .

      I hope that CBS:
      1. Had to pay dearly for cancelling their contract w/ NORML regarding the Times’ Square billboard; their hypocrisy is absolutely blinding!

      and
      2. I sincerely hope that the black population of Atlanta (and any within reading distance of this website) seize this opportunity to rain down negative publicity on CBS for allowing such a despicable billboard that singles out “Black Children” as an endangered species to be put up.

      I feel a bit of Karma payback headed towards CBS very, VERY SOON!!

      End Slavery!
      LEGALIZE FREEDOM!!

    2. James says:

      I wonder if they would accept an ad with only some statistics about how prohibition disproportionally affects Black people. Right?

    3. Ozlanthos says:

      Honestly I just have this to say to NORML..”tough titty”. Why is it so hard to understand? CBS has a right to deny you (or anyone else) a spot on “their” billboards without explanation or reservation. Getting all butt-hurt and whiny about it isn’t going to change the fact that they own the billboards, and as such have the right to determine that which will be shown on them. Want to get back at them? BUY BILLBOARDS! Then you too can allow only those whose values reflect your own to purchase space on “your” billboards!

      -Oz

      [Editor’s note: Tough titty? Butt-hurt? Aren’t you classy….

      No kidding that CBS owns their billboard, the obvious complaint is the disparity in treatment that CBS engenders when they take racist anti-abortion billboards, but will not take a pro-cannabis law reform ads.

      NORML is not going to buy a billboard in Times Square and has no plans in the future to purchase billboards. The NRA, NAACP, PETA, Catholic Church, Anti-tobacco groups, Sierra Club, anti-abortion groups, Focus on the Family, Church of Latter Day Saints, etc…they don’t have to buy billboards to get out their at times controversial ads seen by the public. Why should NORML’s members have to buy billboards to promote a public policy reform that is already popular with the general population?]

    4. Orchid says:

      Search Norml on CBS’s website (see below), and leave a comment on the issue to them directly:

      http://www.cbs.com/community/manage/userProfileHome.html?u=amyctexas

    5. Kayla says:

      @Seriously? – And that’s why I’m a libertarian. Nice ASSumption though.

    6. Yearning to breathe free says:

      I had the exact same thought as Megan, the billboard suggests that people of different colors are different species. That’s really fucked up.

    7. Brian says:

      In response to the editors response on #53. I agree that CBS is bias, has an obvious agenda, and we as individuals should boycott them. That does not change the fact that it is their billboard and they can advertise for whom they wish. Say NORML had some advertising on it’s website. Would you run ads for pro-drug war candidates? For pro-drug war legislation? For Ron Paul lol? No! That is your right, and all the power to you!

      Those other organizations do not purchase billboards, sure. Is NORML those other organizations? Why stay a stagnant status-quo non-profit? Do you want to shake things up? Do you want to increase your impact?

      Maybe buying a billboard doesn’t make sense on other levels, but you aren’t going to consider it because it isn’t fair? Why should I donate to NORML if it does not take these suggestions/ideas seriously? Why would I donate to you if you are not willing to think outside of the box like the other organizations you listed?

      [Editor’s note: Why are you defending CBS? The point is not who owns the billboard. That is well established. The point is that CBS claims to not take political ads, then runs anti-abortion TV ads during the Superbowl and racist anti-abortion billboards in Georgia.

      Get it?!

      If you believe that ‘thinking out of the box’ is for a non-profit organization to go buy billboards when no other group in America has to waste its members’ donations doing such, so be it. Whatever….

      However, there apparently is no market for cannabis law reformers to self-fund billboards or public transit ads…that failed experiment can be found at changetheclimate.org

      If you think it worthwhile, go raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars, buy your own billboards and promote Ron Paul and cannabis law reform to your heart’s content. Or, go chide billionaire-supported DPA and MPP to go buy and service pro-reform billboards with their large annual endowments.]

    8. Rusty James says:

      I find it absurd.
      also
      If you had that same billboard with white children it would spark so much outrage and be called racist.
      That’s if you could even get so far as to have the billboard.
      CBS wouldn’t allow a white one.

    9. fester420 says:

      That billboard that suggust black children are a different species is so disgustingly rascist! It is haunting me! What has America become? FFS!.

      And @Kayla, I agree and understand if the anti-abortion people rarely gave a crap about life then why are most of them so against programs that help children whose familes can´t help them.

      We won´t need billboards if we all talk to are families and friends about this issue!

    10. This is an outrage! Stop story of Sinsemilla’s lifestyle page. sinsemillainc.com

      This trend of cannabis sensitivity in the corporate world will fade as it become more socially acceptable, but right now we grind our teeth!

    11. Nick says:

      I didn’t see it mentioned in the comments, but this is just another example in a long history of CBS trying to inject the values of it’s executives into the lives of Americans.
      During the Super Bowl, CBS showed the Tim Tebow anti-abortion ad. But, they refused to show an advertisement for a gay/lesbian online dating site.
      The funny thing is that these decisions actually work to the detriment of CBS. If you watched the superbowl ads carefully, you may have noticed that about 25% of the advertisements were for shows on CBS. In other words, CBS failed to sell all of their ad space. So instead of selling a 40 second advertising spot for $2-$3 million (how much the ads cost), they simply refused the money instead of airing the ads. In other words they turned down millions of dollars because they didn’t like the message.
      Now there are many people here saying that CBS can do whatever they want with their tv ad space and their billboards, however I disagree with this based on one fact… CBS IS A PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANY! CBS is not a privately held company. It is owned by the stock holders.
      If I owned CBS stock, I would have sold it the day after the Super Bowl. Here is a company that is refusing to make money just because they do not like the people that want to pay them. And when this attitude exists in a business that operates under capitalism, it is a recipe for certain disaster.

    12. Nick says:

      I didn’t see it mentioned in the comments, but this is just another example in a long history of CBS trying to inject the values of it’s executives into the lives of Americans.
      During the Super Bowl, CBS showed the Tim Tebow anti-abortion ad. But, they refused to show an advertisement for a gay/lesbian online dating site.
      The funny thing is that these decisions actually work to the detriment of CBS. If you watched the superbowl ads carefully, you may have noticed that about 25% of the advertisements were for shows on CBS. In other words, CBS failed to sell all of their ad space. So instead of selling a 40 second advertising spot for $2-$3 million (how much the ads cost), they simply refused the money instead of airing the ads. In other words they turned down millions of dollars because they didn’t like the message.
      Now there are many people here saying that CBS can do whatever they want with their tv ad space and their billboards, however I disagree with this based on one fact… CBS IS A PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANY! CBS is not a privately held company. It is owned by the stock holders.
      If I owned CBS stock, I would have sold it the day after the Super Bowl. Here is a company that is refusing to make money just because they do not like the people that want to pay them. And when this attitude exists in a business that operates under capitalism, it is a recipe for certain disaster, and an example of discrimination.
      What CBS is doing actually boarders on discrimination. To illustrate what I mean, consider the following hypothetical situation: I decide that I want to open a restaurant. I (the stock holder in this analogy), buy a space, furnish it, hire a crew, put together a menu, and open my business. On the 5th day the restaurant is open my head chef (CBS executive) comes to me and says that he does not want to cook meals for black people. He then shows me a survey he conducted with the customers over the first 4 days of business showing me that the restaurant would get more business if I only served white people…So by CBS’ logic I should only serve white people. But reality and morality tell me that to do so would be wrong and discriminatory.

    13. Shaggy says:

      I’m sorry but for one of the first, if not THE first commercial for the legalization of marijuana, it is pretty awful. All I got from it was “Pot makes money, legalize it!” I was not impressed.. If NORML expects THAT to hit the air, they should re-evaluate.

      [Editor’s note: The ad was not created to be aired on TV, it was a 15-second electronic billboard buy in NYC’s Times Square….and it is not the first ad in favor of cannabis law reform intended for mass broadcast.

      Last 4/20, NORML launched a nationwide TV ad buy…]

    14. Tucker says:

      this bill board sounds and looks racist and they allow this kind of bill board or any other bill board but they can’t allow a cannibis billboard?

    15. fireweed says:

      The point that offends me is their allusion to morals, or the lack thereof, implying that people who smoke pot are lacking in morals. But that’s what people in general think. It’s okay to drink, but do “drugs” and it’s as if you’ve sold your soul to the devil.

    16. Erica says:

      Why is it that black women are expected to continue the cycle of poverty, abuse and abandonment by black men? Will we be bullied into having even more children with men who are misogynist, gay, bisexual, incarcerated, uneducated and irresponsible. (Black women continue to have a higher birth rate than white women.) Why are 70% of black households headed by single black women? Why isn’t anyone saying that the leading cause of death for sistas of child bearing age is hiv/aids? Will this increase? Why wasn’t more thought put into this entire approach regarding black womens’ lives and bodies? With everything else that is going on–I just don’t think this is a wise move right now….

    17. brian says:

      Editor’s note: Why are you defending CBS? The point is not who owns the billboard. That is well established. The point is that CBS claims to not take political ads, then runs anti-abortion TV ads during the Superbowl and racist anti-abortion billboards in Georgia.

      Chill out dude, I get it. You apparently don’t. I am absolutely not defending CBS. Did you not read in my previous post that the way to go about this is for individuals to boycott CBS. I am just reaffirming that they have not broken any laws, so there is no legal recourse. Your resources are best spent thinking outside the box and getting around roadblocks like this by considering progressive ideas.

      A lot of the other commentators also asked why not buy billboards. Like I said before, maybe buying billboards is not a good use of resources, but it is an interesting idea. Why the attitude? This is what I don’t get about NORML national. You have a totally ‘you’re either with us or against us’ mentality. You can’t take constructive criticism at all, and god forbid we suggest you do anything differently. My college NORML chapter is so much more pleasant and open to these type of discussions; why are you dudes moderating these boards such sticks-in-the-mud?

      [Editor’s note: Attitude…you mean yours?! You have such a hostile attitude towards NORML, why be involved? You post dozens of negative comments. Your contrarian, provocative and clearly immature posts (you’re in college, which helps explain a lot) don’t advance cannabis law reform at all.

      Maybe you should live a little longer, read more and post less.]

    18. Tom says:

      OK for one who cares?? no one watches CBS anyway we should get it aired on the fox network maybe with a small statement by the CEO of NORML saying something like ” NORML supporting the education of america to make your own decision… learn more at NORML.com” something simple non-threating and pushing the education argument and simply getting people to ask why. As for the abortion issue i think its funny that people are making a fuss as though the black baby billboard since most women who get abortions are caucasian you dont see many white babies at the adoption agency most are pigmeys or asian… the point is they are two seperate issues and although i appreciate the hypocrasy and the blantent disrespect for the lack of support for our issues i reallly don’t think we should tie our argument to that train… the last thing we should be doing is assosciating a totally victimless action with something as contriversal as abortion.

      [Editor’s note: Ummm…CBS has been the number #1 TV network for years…your thoughts on abortion are incorrect and bizarre…the issue of CBS claiming not to run political ads, when it runs racist anti-abortion billboards while denying cannabis law reform messages (which is political) is relevant to the thousands of cannabis law reform advocates who’ve signed the online petition against CBS’ hypocrisy.]

    19. Ozlanthos says:

      No kidding that CBS owns their billboard, the obvious complaint is the disparity in treatment that CBS engenders when they take racist anti-abortion billboards, but will not take a pro-cannabis law reform ads.

      NORML is not going to buy a billboard in Times Square and has no plans in the future to purchase billboards. The NRA, NAACP, PETA, Catholic Church, Anti-tobacco groups, Sierra Club, anti-abortion groups, Focus on the Family, Church of Latter Day Saints, etc…they don’t have to buy billboards to get out their at times controversial ads seen by the public. Why should NORML’s members have to buy billboards to promote a public policy reform that is already popular with the general population?]

      You want to know why you need to buy billboards? Because out of all of the causes you mentioned, none of them is currently ILLEGAL1

      [Editor’s note: An organization petitioning the government against grievances is not illegal and it is not an illegal act. It was not as if NORML was advertising to sell cannabis…only reflecting the fact that a majority of Americans support ending 73-years of cannabis prohibition and support raising–as compared to spending–tax revenue.]

    20. Tom says:

      oh and one more thing.. tim tebow is a tool

    21. Ozlanthos says:

      No kidding that CBS owns their billboard, the obvious complaint is the disparity in treatment that CBS engenders when they take racist anti-abortion billboards, but will not take a pro-cannabis law reform ads.

      NORML is not going to buy a billboard in Times Square and has no plans in the future to purchase billboards. The NRA, NAACP, PETA, Catholic Church, Anti-tobacco groups, Sierra Club, anti-abortion groups, Focus on the Family, Church of Latter Day Saints, etc…they don’t have to buy billboards to get out their at times controversial ads seen by the public. Why should NORML’s members have to buy billboards to promote a public policy reform that is already popular with the general population?]

      You want to know why you need to buy billboards? Because out of all of the causes you mentioned, none of them is currently ILLEGAL! As long as marijuana is illegal, groups like NORML will be viewed by some portion of the public (usually those who need to see a few “reality-based” pro-marijuana billboard ads, and those who make their money off the status quo) as being promoters of illegal activities.

      Also, if you intend to win this fight, you must be willing to expose yourself to strangers. Here on these message boards, on this web-site, we are 99.999% in agreement about what should be done, but the other 56% of Americans not visiting this or other pro-marijuana web-sites do not know what you are trying to do. Without encroachment into media outlets that intrude into non-traditional markets, you’ll continue to be stuck singing this same tune to the same audience.

      -Oz

      [Editor’s note: Without encroachment into media outlets that intrude into non-traditional markets, you’ll continue to be stuck singing this same tune to the same audience.

      Isn’t this the very problem at bar….major media outlets rarely take pro-reform messages? Organizations like NORML already work and advertise in non-traditional markets, the point of the billboard ad in NYC’s Time Square was to further mainstream the discussion of law reform.]

    22. weedpolitik says:

      I can understand how CBS doesnt want to be tied to the marijuana movement at this time. However, I predict that once public support for legal cannabis becomes so strong that CBS can’t ignore it any longer, they will be very open to the idea of a pro-pot billboard.

      Mark my words Paul Aramento! CBS will warm up to norml in a year or two.

    23. rollinj says:

      sorry, but i like Criminal Minds and Cold Case too much to do a total boycott of CBS

    24. Sean says:

      Very interesting. Everything in America today is about an image, not a truth. If it was, marijuana would have never been illegal. There was never evidence to back up the kinds of claims about marijuana that have been made by presidential administrations of the past. Maybe CBS fears that they will lose viewers or something… who knows.

      The concept of marijuana as a harmful, dangerous substance is a lie, and it is time that people stop living in denial and treating their loved ones like criminals… all because of the lies of evil, selfish men who would have their preferred issues advertised, while preventing causes that they don’t support from being decided on by the people. If they keep it on the hush… even with overwhelming evidence, marijuana will never be legalized.

      Some surveys say that 90% have tried marijuana before… yet nobody has ever died from it, or gone on some schitzophrenic killing spree as a result of smoking pot. But somehow, the issue is offensive.

      If somebody else smoking a joint offends you, well, guess what… it’s not you’re right to care, and I will say that point blank to the face of anyone who thinks otherwise, no matter what position of authority they hold. Opposers think through speculation… Supporters know through experience and/or from reading everything about marijuana. The people who fight or speak so passionately against marijuana are nothing but brainwashed drones with nothing but TV commercials to reference as evidence of their viewpoint. If they had hard facts to put in those commercials, they would be there. Quit letting them dictate what is important to us, America. (LOL, I feel like Stephen Colbert a little there.) Stand for what you really believe in, not the latest hot topic on your favorite TV news channel. Rely on personal research, not a combination of television commercials, polished political statements, and biased TV news… if you truly stand for something.

      If they obviously lie about something so petty, and continue to stick with the lie, as they continue to get proven wrong, what else do they lie about? My suspicion would be everything. Turn off your TV’s and actually live the issues you so passionately care about, or shut your mouths. In other words… If marijuana is dangerous and wrong….. PROVE IT, WITHOUT A DOUBT, or shut your mouths. Don’t laugh at the issue when a concerned citizen asks about its progress… ahem, Mr. Obama. We are the people, we deserve that much. Otherwise, make it legal and quit lying.

      I know I would be able to trust the government on more important issues… on issues like the war and the economy… if they didn’t obviously lie so much about less pressing issues like this one.

    25. Sean says:

      #71 said it well. The routes to the mainstream media that the majority of us see regularly are blocked, somehow, for the likes of pro-marijuana campaigns. There is absolutely no way that the government does not have a part in this… it would not be possible to keep advertising for marijuana out of the mainstream media for this long without their influence… in a nation with such growing support for the drug, or medicine, or whatever you would like it to be called. And of course, the marijuana issue will never reach those who have no personal interest in it, for law reform purposes, without that means of communication.

      We are what our TV’s tell us we are, as a whole. Sorry to offend those who disagree, but television controls the political agendas of the citizens of this nation… 100%. We end up caring the most about the issues that we hear on TV, rarely on those that reflect our personal lives. Something about that is very wrong to me. In a nation of 300+ million people, it is sad that so few press their personal issues to their representatives. But no, I guess those lazy types would rather vote for the next American Idol. He who controls the content of the mainstream media guides the opinions of this nation. All it takes is a firm push in the direction they want us to go in.

    26. Corporate Bullshyte System says:

      I haven’t watched CBS in 10 years… so boycotting them would be hard to do. I don’t even know anyone (aside from my dottering parents) that even watch television.

      F*ck CBS.
      F*ck TV.

    27. tony says:

      Hey guys at norml this is bullshit how can they reject you like this? How often can you request the ad? Please continue asking them as this would be a huge thing if you guys get this add up in running!

    28. brian says:

      “(you’re in college, which helps explain a lot)”

      How could you say this when you know that a large portion of your supporters are college students?

      I always start off posting very positive and proactive posts on what I think can be done to help. If I mention liberty politics or any alternative ideas you post a negative editors comment on my post. My “negative” posts are all in response to your negative editor comments. So either stop putting editor comments on my positive posts, or just moderate out my posts. All I am doing is responding to your negative editor comments.

      [Editor’s note: Your assumption (and projection), based on your limited life experience as a young person in college, that a large portion of NORML’s support is derived from college students is incorrect.

      You’re a political partisan trying to encourage others to support your chosen political philosophy of ‘libertarianism’, and to support essentially ‘loser’ political candidates who support some or all of cannabis law reforms.

      You’ve posted dozens to hundreds of times to NORML’s webpage promoting your views (you chose to post four times today to a single NORML reply….), and get upset when your incorrect or unhelpful advocacy is addressed by NORML’s editors.

      Boo-hoo.]

    29. Rachel says:

      Stand outside an abortion clinic just one day and watch how many teenage, poor black girls get dropped off by their 20 something, 30 something year old boyfriends. Most of the girls are black…only a few are white. That’s fact where I live…which isn’t far from Atlanta. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, it’s disturbing to see so many black women choosing abortion. Poverty shouldn’t be fought with an invasive medical procedure. I think there is a genuine willingness in pro-life circles to change the hearts of people and to consider abortion alternatives. I personally see nothing wrong with that and I see nothing wrong with running ads promoting that message…just like Planned Parenthood sees nothing wrong with getting their message out as well.

      I also think that the issue of marijuana law reform has historically been viewed as a “liberal” issue so maybe some of the folks here might not have a problem taking a few shots at “pro-lifers”. Needless to say I’m pro-life, conservative and also in favor of marijuana law reform. I know a lot of others like me who feel the same way. This is the 2nd time I’ve visited this site and to be honest with you I thought the blog post started out great until I read your obvious pro-choice slant and your first comment: “It’s so cute how the pro-lifers are pretending to care about black children”.

      So my question is…why alienate people like me and others who want to hear your thoughts on marijuana law reform but don’t really want to hear you and the others on here attack other causes that are important to us? Surely there has to be a way to make a point while being respectful of the beliefs and viewpoints of others right? Maybe this pro-marijuana reform movement needs to change their image…and be a little more inclusive while they’re at it.

      [Editor’s note: Your highly subjective views about the race of who you perceive to get abortions is not welcomed and is largely off topic. Cannabis law reformers have the same percentage of pro-choice and pro-life supporters as any other subgroup in America not organized around the divisive and emotional issue of reproduction rights.]

    30. Rachel says:

      Wow! I was expecting a much more constructive response from the “editor”. I agree with you that the abortion debate and marijuana law reform don’t mix. Maybe you should have thought about that when you decided to inject your pro-choice slant.

      BTW…I’m not very PC…I’m honest so dont make me vomit with your “stating negative facts about abortion as it relates to race isnt welcome here” comments. Spare me the BS political correctness please…no one likes that except for extreme liberals.

      [Editor’s note: If you agree that your anti-abortion views and cannabis law reform don’t mix why did YOU choose to publish the inflammatory info to NORML’s webpage?

      NORML is indeed pro-choice for individual choice-making regarding health matters…aren’t you? However, if you want or need the government to make your health and reproductive decisions for you, who is the liberal?

      Re your bizarre and unsubstantiated claims that minorities disproportionately employee abortions more than whites is self-evidently racist (and far off topic). As such, your subjective views about who gets abortions and why is not welcomed on a pro-cannabis law reform webpage. You can call it PC if you like, others will see it as a call for civility and to stay focused on point.]

    31. […] these billboards have been up for more than 10 days, neither NORML nor Change.org has heard from CBS about the company’s decision on the NORML ad, which argued that […]

    32. Kane T says:

      Change.org has sent out a mass email stating that CBS has reversed its decision and will run the ad. Why hasn’t NORML publicly addressed this new development?

      [Paul Armentano responds: FYI: This development was discussed and linked to on the NORML Audio Stash page Wednesday and Thursday. NORML needs to thoroughly review CBS’s revised contract (and is presently doing so), before making a final decision.]

    33. Mena says:

      black children endangered? what?? really? racist, sexist, and stupid all at once! god this country needs weed more than ever, so we can get high and forget we live with all these nutcases.

      And can I just ask one thing? Why is it, that whenever I see “anti-abortion crusaders” or whatever those freaks running around with huge signs of dead fetuses….they’re men. It’s men protesting abortion rights. WHY IS THAT!? You rarely ever see women doing it….

      And NORML….I’m strongly inclined to print off your ads and just start hanging them on every public bulletin board I see. It’s time for this nonsense to end….when we can’t say “legalize weed!” but we can shove dead baby pictures down your throat, it’s a strong sign this country is going in the wrong direction. We need marijuana legalization now more than ever!

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