(New York, NY - WNYC) On Monday, ten New York subway stations will display an ad that uses block letters on a black background to proclaim, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” followed by the tag line, “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
The ruling comes as anti-American protests are erupting around the world over an anti-Muslim film trailer widely circulated on the internet.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an advocacy group, bought space for the ad in the subway a year ago. But the NY Metropolitan Authority rejected it before it could run, explaining in a letter to the group that, "Your proposed ad contains language that, in our view, does not conform with the MTA's advertising standards regarding ads that demean an individual or group of individuals."
AFDI sued, and won, on First Amendment grounds. The NY MTA appealed, and lost.
The judge in the case denied the authority's request for an extension that would've allowed its board to meet and consider a rule change to ban non-commercial ads, also known as issue ads, on its property. (See the ruling below.)
NY MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said today that the fight is now over. “Our hands are tied," he said. "The court found the MTA’s regulations on non-commercial ads violated the First Amendment."
The NY MTA will not follow the lead of San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, which ran the same ad on its buses next to an ad of its own that condemned "statements that describe any group as 'savages.'"
This is not the first time that AFDI has placed an ad with the NY MTA. In August, the group launched a campaign with ads in Metro-North commuter rail stations that cited tens of thousands of "Islamic attacks" since the 9/11 attacks. The authority said it displayed them because the ads did not include demeaning language.
AFDI says it "aggressively seeks to advance and defend our nation’s Judeo-Christian moral foundation in courts all across our nation." Its executive director is Pamela Geller, who was instrumental in protests against Park 51, a mosque-community center two blocks from the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.