Matt W.C. Joy

Dear Mayor…

In Uncategorized on 26/11/2009 at 8:09 am

I decided to use this medium to raise an issue that I was perturbed with this past summer and one that has not really been resolved…at least to my personal liking.   It is a civic issue within our Metro area but I believe it points to a much deeper issue regarding our society.  To fill you in, here is a letter I sent to the Mayor of St. John’s (Dennis O’Keefe) back in July:

July 14, 2009

Mayor O’Keefe,

First, I would like to express my gratitude for you being willing to serve in such a public office of leadership.  I can imagine the demands on your family and schedule and would like you to know that your efforts and service is much appreciated.

Second, while I live in Mount Pearl, I work and spend much of my time in St. John’s and see the region more as a metropolis than several individual municipalities.  You will not find a citizen more passionate about this area and I love that I have been given the privilege of working and raising my family here.

Yesterday, July 13, I went to city hall to take in the Canadian Citizenship ceremony and was thrilled to witness such a momentous occasion in 38 lives.  However, as I walked from my parking place (just down from the Courthouse) I found myself absolutely shocked and appalled as a citizen, as someone who works with students full time, and even more, as a father.  All along the streets of our beautiful downtown plastered all on almost every light pole, were advertisements for 2 local strip clubs.  One of which was provocative in nature with women posing in bikinis.  This caption read, “Our Girls Party Naked”.  I thought this was too much even for such a public place and reflection of our city.  But then, to see the other advertisement for a separate establishment I was even more disappointed and irate that this was deemed ok by someone in leadership.  The posters in reference contained pictures of 4-5 women completely naked, with only a slight covering of the nipples and vagina.  I am baffled to think that this could possibly be legal and not in violation of any advertising by-laws.  When I think that the public reacted to the ‘Strictly Adult Video’ sign on Topsail road and yet I have not heard any outcry on this makes me think that it is not a publicly known thing.

We, as citizens, leaders of students, and parents, are fighting hard to raise up the children of this city to protect them from things that rob their innocence.  Their sexual purity is one of the areas that is being challenged severely.  As a dad, I will be diligent in monitoring my son’s internet use and tv watching because of the filth of what is available to him.  To know that I need to fight this battle on a public street in our city is sad…very sad.

Can you please clear up for me a couple of things?  First, is this ok legally for establishments/businesses to advertise in such an explicit manner?  If so, why?

Sincerely,

Matthew Joy

Now…here is the response I received from the Mayor himself:

Hi Matt

I understand your position and agree with it and I have contacted our Bldg.Dept about it. However I know from other experiences on poles that it is all connected to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and freedom of expression. We will do what we can under the law. Thanks
_________________
Dennis O’Keefe
Mayor
City of St. John’s
City Hall, P.O. Box 908
10 New Gower Street
St. John’s, NL, A1C 5M2
Tel:   709-576-8477
Fax:   709-576-8250
Email:
dokeefe@stjohns.ca
website:
www.stjohns.ca

During the days between sending my letter and getting this glib response, I called emailed and called our most popular radio talk show, ‘Open Line‘, to rouse public discussion on this.  The host, Randy Simms, was all over it and thought it would grab people’s attention and draw their opinion.  We were both wrong unfortunately.  At the same time in July, we had a ‘catastrophic’ (note the quotations for sarcasm) water ban in the Metro region…who could pause to consider the attack of innocence upon our children when we are in the midst of trying to conserve our water supply (again, please note the sarcasm)?

There was a grandma that called Open Line to back me up and commit to writing City Hall as well.  Of which, I was proud.  But, you know…at the end of the day we are here in November and I am pretty sure this is still far off of the radar of our public and public officials.

Randy Simms said something during our radio chat in July that rocked me a little.  It was to the effect that this display of advertising must be considered acceptable by our society based on the little feedback the issue was generating.  I’d rather believe that the silence on the matter was either drowned out by the water ban concern (baffling in itself) or due to the fact that not many parents knew enough about the advertising to speak up on it.

Somehow, I’d like to think that Pierre Elliott Trudeau and the governing Liberals never foresaw this type of expression and deemed it ok for public streets.  The Charter is such a beautiful thing, but situations like this make me wonder if we aren’t proverbially shooting ourselves in the foot as a nation by making it ‘absolute’ truth no matter the consequence.

I’ll clue up this entry/rant by giving you the opportunity to have a little say on this issue with one click of your mouse:

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  1. Agree completly Matt. It’s scary to think about how much worse it can possibly get when our sons are the age we are now.

  2. Fight the power, Joy! I’m proud of you every single day for standing up for what’s right. Continue to lead, inspire and change things!

  3. Wow, I’m floored by this. I’m guessing such signage doesn’t remain on the poles long enough for many citizens to see and object. I can only imagine how many people grab those up for some private collection. Could this be included in some restraints along with explicit grafitti? There are so many terms by which this MUST be wrong, legally.

    • Sadly Cryst0 … i think this is a accepted norm now by pedestrians. I think the Mayor’s response sums up their inability to legally do anything about it the way things stand currently under our justice system

  4. There must be a lawyer out there that knows more, I’m ocd and want to research what legalities exist and don’t exist regarding this. I’m fairly liberal in a lot of respects, but what you’ve described isn’t liberal, or free, it’s not democratic, or free speech, it’s degrating, disrespectful, oh, so many adjectives are available to describe this. I’ll stop. Have you considered sending this as a letter to the editor of a few newpapers? It may get some response there.

  5. I agree that signs this explicit should not be posted. However, it is hard to legally prevent a ‘legitimate’ business from advertising its’ product (Which in this case is naked women). You can’t really do anything about the bikini pictures. The others you mentioned should have some set of regulations on them.. if you are under the age of 18 you are supposed to be closed off to sexually explicit images, and stores. Up the shore when downtown is mentioned it is synonymous with bars, and that is about it; Nothing about the business’ or anything else that the downtown scene has to offer. Just something that society in general has gotten used to. But yeah I support your cause, hopefully it can draw some more attention

    • Thanks Ty for your thoughts on this…the business side of this argument is a real one in this society and perhaps our laws will protect all forms of advertising. But yeah you make a good point about other areas of life having laws that protect kids from these images. Again, thanks for commenting and reading bro

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