A team of attorneys from the American Freedom Law Center today asked a court in New York for a preliminary injunction that would uphold the principle of free speech in the advertisements on the transit authority’s facilities.
A lawsuit had been filed last fall over the refusal by the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority to accept advertising that calls for support for civilized man and opposition to the savage acts of terrorism the world has known in recent years.
Officials with the AFLC said today they’d asked for a preliminary injunction to protect freedom of speech as the case works its way through the system.
“The MTA’s ‘demeaning speech’ policy is operating here as a viewpoint-based restriction on our clients’ speech,” said David Yerushalmi, senior counsel for the organization. “Viewpoint discrimination is the most egregious form of content discrimination under the First Amendment.”
The organization is working on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. The request for an injunction went to the U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York.
“Here, the MTA would rather violate a law-abiding, private citizen’s right to freedom of speech than offend those who support violent jihad against Israel and others,” said Robert Muise, the AFLC’s senior counsel. “The American Freedom Law Center is committed to fighting this pernicious form of civilization jihad that undermines our fundamental rights.”
The ad that was refused by the transit authority, which has carried a wide range of commercial, political and religious messages on its facilities, was the statement, “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel.”
The ad was offered as a response to an earlier ad run by a pro-Palestine group.
But it rejected the pro-Israel ad, “claiming that it violated its policy against displaying ‘images or information that demean an individual or group of individuals on account of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.’”
According to the papers filed with the federal court, the MTA, by policy and practice, intentionally dedicates its advertising space on vehicles to expressive conduct.
Under that policy, it has allowed the message, “Muslims for Peace, Love for All, Hatred for None … WHY ISLAM.”
It also permitted, “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”
And it allowed the pro-Palestine, “Be on our side. We are the side of peace and justice. End U.S. military aid to Israel.”
The AFDI submitted its proposed ad to CSB Outdoor, which is an agent for the MTA. It was a political message that responded directly to the pro-Palestine message posted earlier.
“The anti-Israeli advertisement suggests that Israel’s military is the impediment to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and that U.S. military aid to Israel also acts as an impediment to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. In other words, the anti-Israel advertisement blames Israel, its military, and U.S. military aid to Israel as the cause of Palestinian terror directed against innocent civilians in Israel and abroad.”
The subsequent ad request from AFDI said there is no comparison or equivalence
between “savage civilian-targeting violence and Israel’s civilized struggle for survival in a part of the world where civilized behavior is overshadowed by terrorism, despotism, and brutality.”
The MTA rejected the ad because of its “demeaning speech” policy.
But the real effect is that a viewpoint that the U.S. foreign policy supporting Israel in the face of savage violence is correct is being censored, officials said.
“The Constitution does not permit the government, in this case the MTA, to take sides on political issues by silencing one side of the debate,” Muise said.
In a commentary about the dispute, Geller wrote that similar issues have come up in Seattle, San Francisco and Washington.
“The ad is actually referring to the Islamic jihadists who are determined to destroy Israel. And they are savage,” she wrote. “Truth is radical. Morality is radical. But a genocidal ideology is not radical or savage.”
Her book, “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance,” also documents such situations.
“Tell me again why the word ‘savage’ is inaccurate. Everyone is shocked (shocked, I tell ya) by the use of the word savage for savages. As long as the Palestinian Authority continues its savage policy to foment violence and promote hatred, and teaches its children to hate, the number of young Muslims willing to blow themselves up or to slit Israeli throats will continue to increase. That is savage. The Palestinian Authority propaganda of ‘Holocaust denial, racial slurs, anti-Jewish epithets and glorification of terrorists’ is savage,” she wrote.
She cited as savagery: targeting civilians, terrorism against Jews, torture of hostages, the bloody hacking death of a family, Munich, and the “endless demonization of the Jewish people…”
“But we are supposed to tiptoe around the savages, so as not to enflame the savages,” she wrote. .