Continuing the Conversation

Advertising: One of the pillars of Commonweal’s financial semi-solidity is advertising. From time to time, we get complaints about specific ads we run, and from time to time we get out our policy and dust it off. Recent complaints about advertisements for conferences on homosexuality brought out the dust rag. We thought readers might be interested in knowing how we think about these matters.

Commonweal’s working policy is to sell ad space to those who request it. On the one hand, we consider advertisers innocent until proven guilty; on the other, we do not consider that publishing an ad constitutes an endorsement by us. We feel strongly about this policy when it comes to “idea” advertising-for books, tapes, and conferences. Our reasons are both practical and principled.

Practical: It would be unrealistic for us to try to evaluate all the ideas that are directly or indirectly promoted through proposed advertisements. Could we read ahead of time all the books we advertise? And if we started refusing ads for ideas we disagree with, will readers assume that we agree with the ideas promoted in the ads we do accept? This strikes us as an impossible and self-defeating route to pursue.

Principled: Our readers are adults. It seems to us condescending to protect you from ideas we reject, and all too reminiscent of past unhappy practices of the Catholic church. We have our editorial space and our choice of...

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