Monday, October 15, 2012

MTA v. The First Amendment

Who knew that the only thing standing between our First Amendment rights and the American people was a little pink spray paint! Well that and the threat of violence over...a subway advertisment.

The horror! The madness! Seriously.

In late September, Iranian President Mahmoud Imadinnerjacket [see: Commentarama-nary for definition] before the UN General Assembly calling for destruction of Israel and other such mischief, the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) in New York was brought to its knees. Not by terrorist threats or UN protests, but over the above advertisement bought and paid for by Pamela Geller, writer, blogger, and leader of the Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the same person who lead the protest against Park51 - the proposed and now defunct "World Trade Center" mosque.

She decided to run this ad to be display in about dozen subway stations throughout New York City in reaction to the 9/11/12 attacks on our Embassies and the ongoing Iranian threats to Israel. At first the MTA rejected the ad because they thought the language was "demeaning". Geller took it to the Federal courts where a judge upheld her ad on First Amendment grounds and the MTA was ordered to place the posters as contracted. Needless to say the posters received a ton of press even before they went up. You would think that the poster had a cartoon of Mohammed or a photo of an 32oz sugary Big Gulp with the furor it caused. Along with physical threats to Ms. Gellar and to the MTA, many of the posters were damaged, torn down, and one woman took it upon herself to deface each poster with pink spray paint in the company of a NY Daily News photographer. The MTA Board was horrified, not at the threats of violence that were directed at Ms. Gellar, but horrified that this ad should be allowed at all.

So horrified were the MTA Board members that they held an emergency meeting to "update" its rules so that it would be clear that the MTA did not approve. At first it was reported that they would just add this disclaimer to all such ads:


This was to protect the Board much in the same way the Obama Administration added their own disclaimer about a certain film that had nothing to do with...well, you know. But that was their public face. As we all know, the devil is in the details. What they really did was change the rules and added this new clause to the official guidelines of ads that will no longer be displayed if:

...The advertisement, or any information contained in it, is directly adverse to the commercial or administrative interests of the MTA or is harmful to the morale of MTA employees or contains material the display of which the MTA reasonably foresees would incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace, and so harm, disrupt, or interfere with safe, efficient, and orderly transit operations. [emphasis added]

Maybe it is just me, but this new guideline is much more dangerous than Ms. Geller's ad could ever be. Now, all that has to happen is for some overzealous, politically-correct bureaucrat to see potential insult or racism in the word "apartment" to shut down our most fundamental right - to disagree.

30 comments:

Patriot said...

Bev....absolutely correct. What started out as a "hate crime" for the left, or anything it disagreed with, ran into the 1st amendment. Can't have that. So now the Islamists have intimidated the left so much that they cower in fear over any reference, depiction or cross word against "The Prophet." So, to meet their cowardice head on, and appear not to go against the right to free political speech, they now use the b.s. excuse of not provoking violence.....using the "shouting fire in a theater" excuse.

And it is amazing to watch how the leftist press, the Democrat base, holds up those who break the law by defacing property as paragons of righteousness against the forces of hate and bigotry. What a world......what a world.

Patti said...

As a Texan, I am surprised when people are cowed into submission (bravado , much?! lol!), especially when it comes to political correctness about radical Islam. Each step we take towards appeasement, is one step closer to our ultimate undoing.

Tennessee Jed said...

The devil truly is in the details, and certainly we are used to the liberal mantra "free speech for me, but not for thee." Still, this isn't quite as open and shut to me as some issues. We are all familiar, of course, with the famous OWH Jr. quote about free speech not being absolute (fire in a crowded theater.) One could make sense out of their decision on that basis. However, proof will be in the pudding. It ultimately depends on somebody in a position of authority making a fair and good call. When in doubt, err on the side of free speech.

T-Rav said...

I heard recorded audio of the woman who was defacing the ads by painting over them; either Gellar or someone else involved came over to talk to her. The woman (who is from Egypt originally) said she was making a statement about how wrong this was; when the person blocked her from spraying more paint, she called the cops, only to get arrested herself for defacing property. Loon.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm betting that this same group would have thought nothing of any leftist ad or even ads like the Calvin Klein ads from a few years ago which looked like kiddie porn. So getting outraged by this is utter hypocrisy.

I was going to mention what T-Rav said, I thought a CNN journalist got caught defacing the ad recently?

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav - You are right. Someone did try to stop her and she ended up being arrested because she ended up spray painting the woman who tried to stop her. Idiot. Her name is Mona El-Tahawy and she is a known activist.

I can understand not wanting to be called a "savage". I don't like it when the All The Presidents Men call me a "racist". However I can't understand why this woman cannot use her energy to fight those who are causing her to be lumped in as a "savage". That's just me.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - In fact the same groups of people who think this ad is horribel ARE the same who defend the Calvin Klein ads and worse as their right under the First Amendment. Just close your eyes or change the channel types...

BevfromNYC said...

Patti - As a Texan myself, I am appauled. Can't we learn to disagree without getting violent? I know we can. We've done it before. We need to stop the erosion of our rights to be disagreeable with this death by a thousand cuts mentality.

AndrewPrice said...

Well, Bev, kiddie porn is a fundamental human right. The right to say "I don't want to be killed" really isn't.

//sarc off

DUQ said...

Bev, Thanks for the article! Good to see you writing during the week too! :)

I can see why they would want some control, otherwise people could put all kinds of obscenities and truly hateful things on their posters and demand that the MTA put them up. But this strikes me as again a liberal double-standard. I can't imagine that they would object to the identical poster if it was put up by the Nation of Islam proclaiming that they need to defend themselves against white or Jews. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

AndrewPrice said...

OT: BTW, this got mentioned at the film site yesterday, but it's worth repeating. Arlen Specter died. And while his career didn't end well, he was an interesting political figure.

BevfromNYC said...

TennJ - It does remain to be seen what the repercussions will be. It's just one more vague rule that can be used to suppress and appease. I keep using this, but to me it fits - deat by a thousand cuts.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Bev, it all makes sense once you realize that fanatical terrorists are not the enemy, Judeo-Christian values are. That's what's making them kill people and suppressing artistic taste, blah blah blah.

Individualist said...

Bev

There is a simple way to deal with this kind of hypocritical behavior but it requires epople willing to put time in to make a point.

Keep making request to put up posters. Each and every time that they are denied under this supposed violence claim take them to court.

Furthermore turn it back on them. Regularly review the ads that are accepted no matter how innocous, find someone group or person who is offended by them and then complain the ad must be taken down to stop violence. Take them to court.

Since their objection to this ad is frivolous they can't claim anything else as frivolous. Bury these people in paperwork regarding their bias. don't just go after them. Go after anyone who advertises in order to make it as big a pain the keister as possible.

It would cost money to do this, in order to file the suits but it would send the message.

If you are going to use spin and obtuse logic to effectively shut down free speach we will use that same tool to shut down all speech.

tryanmax said...

Shall I point out that anyone expressing offense at this ad has self-identified as a Jihadi or Jihadi sympathizer (read: "Jihadi")?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's not true. I object to the color scheme and the lack of cartoon characters and I'm not a Jihadist. ;)

rlaWTX said...

If they were going to apply their new policy fairly and uniformly, it would be one thing - but we all know what will be deemed as inciting and what won't be...

When you get into "paid" speech, I think you veer away from "free speech" rights. I think this is a fairness question - discriminatory application of rules - rather than one of Constitutional free speech.

T-Rav said...

I object to the spacing and font size. Jihad against sans sarif!!!

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax - You are a hater and a hater-sympathizer who hates to hate just because you pointed that out. It does not matter that you are right, just that I can call you names.

I figured out that this is how it works. Don't argue the real issue, but call your opponent a mean name for disagreeing with you.

tryanmax said...

If you really want to make a Jihadi mad, use Comic Sans. For that matter, use it if you want to make a graphic designer mad. Or just about anyone else.

Bev, whatever Hatey McHaterson. Pthzzzz! ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Name calling is the new intellectualism.


tryanmax, Comic Sans?

BevfromNYC said...

rlaWTX - I agree with you. My problem is when "The State" decides what is acceptable speech and what is not. It almost always ends up being what "The State" wants to suppress and what it wants to allow. And since I am extremely wary that bureaucrats can be even-handed and fair, it keeps me "skeptomistic" [see Commentarama-nary for definition] Bureaucrats have jobs that can be protected by towing the party line.

AndrewPrice said...

Bec, I agree. If this was a commercial company, then I wouldn't care either way. They can support or reject whatever they want. But this is a government agency and if they are going to allow political/commercial speech, then they need to be fair about it. I can see banning obscenities or racism or the such, but they need to be unbiased politically if they do it.

AndrewPrice said...

skeptomistic is a great word! :)

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav and Tryan - NO, NOT COMIC SANS!!! You can have Abracadabra and Sans Serif, but keep your mitts off my Comic Sans!

Love "Hatey McHaterson". That's going in the C-nary!

Anthony said...

I'm not fan of Pan Gellar, but the idiots who are getting pissed off about the billboards are playing right into her hands.

I can see why the MTA doesn't want to be a part of Gellar's latest publicity stunt (which for them entails repairing/reposting and guarding advertisements) since I'm sure a desire for revenue, not a love of free speech is what drove them to start taking ads in the first place and I suspect (though I'm not sure) that Gellar's ad has cost them more than it makes them.

Given all the ads one sees on the public transportation system, the simplest solution (not taking any ads) isn't going to happen, so the MTA is going to have to do something messier (banning some ads, but not others) which will undoubtedly resort in lawsuits from people unhappy with their decisions.

T-Rav said...

Ironically, Sarif sounds like a Middle Eastern name, doesn't it? When I convert to radical Islam and go on jihad, my new name will be Sans al-Sarif. Death to America and non-users of Times New Roman!

Jen said...

To me, all this assault on the 1st Amendment (or whatever category it falls under) is getting way out of hand. It seems like just about everyday, there is something like this going on.

I read a story over the weekend (and just for kicks, some of the comments) about a guy in, I think New Jersey, who placed Obama as a Witchdoctor in his business window for a Halloween display. He claimed it isn't political, it's personal, but of course, there were some having a hissy fit, and wishing all sorts of evil things on the man. The first thing I thought of was the Chick Fil-A support/protest.

OT: My sister sent an email with photos from a parade in Germany, which was watched by about three million people. There was one that had Clinton, and the Statue of Liberty--priceless! :)

rlaWTX said...

Bev, you're right - I forgot about MTA being a govt entity...
"skeptomistic" is too optimistic for my feelings about bureaucrats!

Oh, and Bev, "I like Comic Sans" too...

T-Rav, that is an awesome name for when you throw off the oppression of the Judeo-Christian creed!

T-Rav said...

Thank you for your support, rla. Power to the non-block letters!

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