We are Americans; we do not cower or reward barbarity and savagery. This was reaffirmed yet again on Friday, when a U.S. District Court judge ruled that my pro-freedom ads had to run in the Washington, D.C., subway system, despite attempts by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to suppress them for fear of what Islamic jihadist savages might do if they saw them. The “fears” of the WMATA validate the message and the necessity of our ads.
It was a close victory. At the hearing, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia appeared to go out of her way to validate and substantiate WMATA’s ridiculous premise that the AFDI pro-freedom ad would endanger passengers on the D.C. subways and thus must not be posted, or at least delayed until some (fanciful) time when the jihad threat would subside. It was painful to watch Judge Collyer almost physically wrestling with the First Amendment, trying to tackle it and pin it to the floor.
But the First Amendment proved too strong. The judge must have read the case law and saw how utterly wrong she was. She just handed us a complete victory. Props to Judge Collyer for vetting all sides, perhaps playing devil’s advocate and ruling correctly, despite many a false premise.
Philip Staub, the lawyer for WMATA, invoked the international Muslim riots that have been blamed (falsely) on the Muhammad video and said WMATA had received an email threatening them if they posted our ad. He was, in other words, counseling submission to violent Muslim intimidation and the curtailing of the freedom of speech to appease savages. He made the laughable argument that if the ad ran after Nov. 1, the threat would have subsided by then, and all would be well – as if the jihad terror threat would completely die down by then.
Staub also argued that the ad constituted fighting words – but here Judge Collyer couldn’t go along with what he was saying, although she struggled mightily to do so. She gently pointed out to Staub – whom she treated with kid gloves and like a special-needs child the whole afternoon, leading him by the hand to the disbelief of the open court (in sharp contradistinction to her frequent interruptions and contradictions of attorney Robert Muise – stop making sense!) – that for the ad to constitute fighting words, there had to be an imminent threat of violence. But the ads have run without incident in San Francisco and New York – they were vandalized in New York in an attempt to shut down free speech, but there was no violence aside from Muslim Brotherhood poster girl Mona Eltahawy’s pink spray can – and so it was impossible for Staub or Collyer to sustain the idea that they constituted an imminent threat to the safety of the passengers. But Collyer certainly tried, coaching and coaxing Staub and at one point saying to him, “The imminence issue is hard for me to get to. Just trying to tell you where I am going.”
Collyer further coached Staub by saying that she assumed – assumed! – that he was arguing (since he was so inept at actually doing so, the point wasn’t clear) that the government’s “compelling interest” in refusing or delaying these ads was concern for the safety of the passengers. She then said, with obvious reluctance, that against that concern there had to be balanced “the very broadly read First Amendment,” and asked him how he thought this could be done.
Staub answered that the safety of the passengers could be balanced against the First Amendment by delaying the ads. He said that he thought things would cool down in Africa, Asia and the Middle East by Nov. 1, and that the ads could run then. Remember, guys, we’re talking about four little ads here, and the WMATA is talking about unrest on two continents. That’s how paralyzed with fear of savages the U.S. government has become.
Even worse, Collyer said this of the ad (which reads “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”): “I see hate speech. When you defend this ad as core political speech, I have a problem with that.”
The ad is not hate speech, it’s love speech. It’s love of life speech. The ad speaks to the defense of freedom and individual rights for all. There’s nothing hateful about it. 9/11 was hate. 3/11 in Madrid was hate. 7/7 in London was hate. The Fort Hood jihadi was hate. The Christmas balls bomber was hate. The Fort Dix Six was hate. Pushing back against such hate is not hate. This poor woman hasn’t a clue as to the jihadic doctrine that relentlessly seeks to violently impose Islamic law and pursues jihad against non-Muslims.
In the midst of this nonsense, Muise kept acting like the one kid in the sixth-grade classroom who was trying to keep his classmates from running wild in front of the hapless substitute teacher: He kept trying to remind Collyer (and Staub) of basic points of American law. He reminded Collyer that there is no law against “hate speech” in America, so that even if she did think the ad was “hate,” that should have no bearing on her ruling. Speech is only considered inciteful, he said, if the speech itself is calling for the lawless, violent action.
And WMATA’s argument about the threat this video posed to the safety of the passengers, Muise pointed out, rested entirely on riots that took place not in the U.S. but in Muslim countries, and not because of this ad, but (supposedly) because of the Muhammad video. The video and the ad, he said, did not have remotely the same content. There was one email WMATA received that apparently contained threats related to this ad, he said, but he explained that we cannot allow those who threaten violence to restrict our First Amendment rights, and cannot have the government acquiesce in the restriction of those rights in response to threats.
Anyway, in the end Collyer ruled properly. Muise commented, “Today, Judge Collyer affirmed that our fundamental right to freedom of speech cannot be suppressed by mob rule. This is not only a victory for our clients, but it is a clear victory for all freedom-loving Americans.” Yes, it is.