A provocative ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in the city’s subway system as violent protests over an anti-Islamic film (“Innocence of Muslims”) ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sweep over much of the Muslim world.
Conservative blogger Pamela Geller who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11 terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations 9/24, reports The AP/GreenwichTime.com. The ad reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The ad was placed on San Francisco city buses in recent weeks, prompting some artists to deface the ads and remove some of the words, including “Jihad,” or holy war. Geller, said she filed suit Thursday in the DC to post the ad in Washington’s transit system after officials declined to put up the ad in light of the uproar in the Middle East over the anti-Islam film.
Abdul Yasar, a New York subway rider who considers himself an observant Muslim, said Geller’s ad was insensitive in an unsettling climate for Muslims: “If you don’t want to see what happened in Libya and Egypt after the video — maybe not so strong here in America — you shouldn’t put this up,” Yasar said. “If this is a free country, they have the right to do this,” he said. “And then Muslims have the right to put up their own ad.”
Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and publisher of a blog called Atlas Shrugs, called an order by a federal judge in New York allowing the ads “a victory for the First Amendment” and said she wasn’t concerned that her ad could spark protests like the ones against the depiction of Muslims in the video. Violence linked to the movie has left at least 30 people in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya.
“If it’s not a film it’s a cartoon, if it’s not a cartoon it’s a teddy bear,” she said. “What are you going to do? Are you going to reward Islamic extremism? I will not sacrifice my freedom so as not to offend savages.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run Geller’s ad, saying it was “demeaning.” But U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled last month that it is protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Our hands are tied,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told the AP. “Under our existing ad standards as modified by the injunction, the MTA is required to run the ad.”
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, backed publication of the “patently offensive” ads: “More offensive would be their censorship because that would violate the guarantee of free expression of all ideas regardless of how distasteful they are,” she said.
The NYC subway ads will be up for a month.
RBR-TVBR observation: It seems rather odd that a YouTube video could light such a fire against the U.S. Government. Google’s YouTube is not owned, nor controlled by the President, Congress or our courts. Yes, YouTube has the right to pull down the video, but our government legally can’t make them do it. We’re sure there are plenty of YouTube videos that are rife with hatred to plenty of religions and races if one looked. The production and release/translation of this one seems like it was orchestrated a bit though just to incite a problem—which it sure did.
We understand Geller’s right to freedom of speech, but throwing more gasoline on an obviously hot-burning fire may cost lives here in the U.S. Principles are principles, though, and Geller believes in what she’s doing.
Bottom line: The internet and modern mass media can spread controversy and hatred today faster than cool heads are ever going to prevail (although we wish they would). Maybe this is all just a sign of boiling global tensions that were waiting for a reason to be released.