A stunning victory for free speech

By Pamela Geller

After the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) ran a series of anti-Israel ads in the New York subways, my group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, submitted a pro-Israel ad, which the MTA summarily rejected. We sued on First Amendment grounds – and last Friday, in a case with important free speech implications far beyond our campaign, we won.

Federal Judge Paul Engelmayer wrote a wonderful, brilliant opinion, establishing a precedent that will do much to protect free speech all over the country. The money quote from Friday’s ruling was when Engelmayer explained that “the AFDI ad is not only protected speech – it is core political speech. The ad expresses AFDI’s pro-Israel perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the Middle East, and implicitly calls for a pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy with regard to that conflict. The AFDI ad is, further, a form of response to political ads on the same subject that have appeared in the same space. As such, the AFDI ad is afforded the highest level of protection under the First Amendment.”

Indeed, this is a great victory for the First Amendment. The freedom of speech has been increasingly threatened in the U.S. in recent years – the left and Islamic supremacists are doing all they can to rule honest discussion of Islamic jihad violence and Jew-hatred out of the realm of acceptable public discourse. Judge Engelmayer has struck a huge blow against this sinister authoritarian effort and for the freedom of speech that is the cornerstone of all our freedoms.

It is a super opinion. Illustrating the MTA’s inconsistency, Engelmayer noted that “under MTA’s no-demeaning standard, an advertiser willing to pay for the privilege is today at liberty to place a demeaning ad on the side or back of a city bus that states any of the following: ‘Southerners are bigots’; ‘Upper West Siders are elitist snobs’; ‘Fat people are slobs’; ‘Blondes are bimbos’; ‘Lawyers are sleazebags’; or ‘The store clerks at Gristedes are rude and lazy.'”

Engelmayer concluded: “Whatever weight might be assigned to the governmental interest in banning demeaning speech on the exterior of New York City buses on an even-handed basis, there is no good reason for protecting some individuals and groups, but not others, from such abuse. MTA’s no- demeaning standard, as currently formulated, is, therefore, inconsistent with the First Amendment.”

He is right. Disallowing a pro-Israel ad was clearly a politically correct, politically motivated denial of free speech. “At the heart of the First Amendment,” wrote Engelmayer, “is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern.” That free flow of ideas is just what the left and Islamic supremacists want to suppress, and the tools in the MTA eagerly did their bidding. Judge Engelmayer’s decision is crucial not just for AFDI and the MTA, but for the freedom of speech in general. The AFDI case has set a key legal precedent for the freedom of speech and won a great victory for the First Amendment.

“This is an important case with serious constitutional ramifications for free speech not only in New York, but across the country,” said Robert Muise, co-founder of American Freedom Law Center and, along with David Yerushalmi, one of the lawyers who fought and won this case for freedom. “This opinion is extremely well-written, well-considered and will go down as an important decision protecting free speech on government property.”

The enemedia’s response has been predictable. With the exception of the New York Times and New York 1, not one of these tools called me for comment. Gothamist said I was “crowing” over the victory. I am “crowing”? These tools should be crowing. It’s their victory, too. And note the Huffington Post’s headline: “Anti-Islam Bus Ads OK’d by Judge,” even though neither Muslims nor Islam are ever mentioned in the ad. You can practically hear the Puff Ho’s head exploding in its moronic and inaccurate report. They cannot bring themselves to call the ad what it is: pro-Israel (which even the New York Times did). Funny how the media can’t bring themselves to say “pro-Israel.” It’s like the silver cross to Dracula. Repeat after me: Pro-Israel. Pro-Israel. Pro-Israel. C’mon, you can do it.

Likewise predictable has been the reaction from Islamic supremacists. One report noted: “Most Muslim-Americans have lashed out at proposed advertisements be placed on New York City buses that call enemies of Israel ‘savages.’ Muslims argue this is hate speech and they should be removed immediately.”

Any war that targets innocent civilians is savage. Period. These “irate” Muslims sanction jihad and Jew-hatred. That is what they are saying. I never see U.S. Muslims marching against jihad. Or supporting Israel’s right to exist. Where are they? Instead, they issue threats if our ads go up. CUNY student Omar Makram Radwan said that if our ads go up, “there will be widespread anger and protests against what to almost all common person is blatant hate speech against Muslims and Muslim-Americans.” (Yet you’ll notice that “Muslim” was not in the ad – neither was “Islam.”)

Brother, are they going up. Truth will not be suppressed or embargoed.

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