The Toronto Transit Commission is considering whether they will accept ads from the Ashley Madison Agency which is described by the National Post as “an online dating site that promotes adultery.” Ashley Madison — how sophisticated-sounding — does not merely promote adultery, the company facilitates it. The Post reports:
“This ad came to us and we took a look at it and we said it’s not appropriate for a streetcar to be running all over the streets of Toronto advocating for people to have affairs,” Mr. [Bard] Ross [a TTC spokesman] said. “Even if the ads were to run, it only requires five public complaints for the review committee to look at it again, and they have the power to remove them from the system.”
I’m a little surprised that the TTC would be so interested in upholding traditional notions of morality or being concerned about what not even a half dozen potential moral puritans might think. As a sometimes moral puritan myself, I was surprised and pleased. However, I don’t share David Quist’s optimism that a large portion of the public would also be offended by these advertisements. Quist is the executive director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada and I share his view about the importance of the institution of marriage and fidelity. I just don’t think most Canadians do. They may profess to do so, but no one should under-estimate the social tolerance of Canadians. Affairs are like abortion, many of them might say, they wouldn’t have one personally but who is to judge what another person does in the privacy of the bedroom (or doctor’s office). If we aren’t there yet, we will be. Andrea Mrozek at ProWomanProLife says:
Cheating. There ain’t no rehabilitation for that word. Everything in us balks at the idea of somehow saying that’s a good thing, or could help a marriage, or would do anything other than tremendous harm.
I would add “for now” at the end of that last sentence. A decade or so ago, most people thought same-sex marriage was unthinkable — what is tolerated and accepted evolves. Sometimes that evolution is progress and sometimes it isn’t. According to a Maclean’s-sponsored Angus Reid Strategies poll, 15% of Canadians “are okay with marital infidelity.” That’s about one in seven Canadians. Let’s be clear: about one in seven Canadians think it is okay for one spouse to violate their vows and have an intimate relationship with someone other than their spouse. I have no doubt that the next generation of social conservatives will be battling against widespread indifference (or worse) to infidelity. We should be ready to fight that battle, as unexpected as it might seem to be today. The very existence of websites like Ashley Madison, which can afford the $200,000 price tag for a TTC campaign, whether or not it actually is allowed to advertise on streetcars and buses, contribute to the normalization of cheating. The TTC’s refusal to accept such ads delays but does not deter that normalization.
Or maybe not. The popularity of Tiger Woods has taken a nose dive since revelations of his marital infedility surfaced. So perhaps there’s hope.