Monday, September 24, 2012

The Anti-free speech crowd gets restless, attacks Pamela Geller for ads denouncing jihad

It's funny how those who claim to be the most ardent supporters of free speech are also the first in line to decry speech they feel is insulting or demeaning.  They have no problem drawing a line in the sand, a line by which anything crossing it is immediately and loudly refuted, refutation based in nothing more than a gut, a wave of nausea that tells them it must be wrong.  No rational thought, no critical thinking, no analysis based in sound context, only a demand that "It hurts so get rid of it."  It is a classic picture of that famous river in Egypt, flowing everlast to the sea without ever wetting what it touches.

Truth hurts, and Muslims want nothing less than the removal of truth, blinding us to the continuous creep of Islam and the slow but steady advance of the sharia.  If questions and criticism of Islam is outlawed, then only Islam will have the law.

From The Jewish Press September 24 by Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Savaged For Daring To Name Savagery: Pamela Geller Attacked by Critics of Free Speech

Pamela Geller, conservative commentator and blogger provocateur, is the executive director of the American Freeedom Defense Initiative. AFDI created and paid for an ad campaign to run in several urban transit systems, in response to anti-Israel ads that ran in the same spaces.

The AFDI ads contain a paraphrase from the philosopher Ayn Rand: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” It concludes with: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The ads are already running on the sides of San Francisco buses, they began running today, September 24th, in New York City, and they were scheduled to begin appearing in the Washington, D.C. metro system. However, the DC system balked, citing the violent rioting by Muslims allegedly inflamed by a YouTube video which presents an unflattering view of Mohammad, so Geller initiated an emergency court action at the end of last week to enforce her First Amendment rights.

Because there is so much misinformation both about Geller and her ad, The Jewish Press asked her to explain what her ad means, why it is scheduled to run this week, what the responses to it have been and, most importantly, why she continues to express her views so publicly, when she is repeatedly condemned by virtually the entire spectrum of mainstream media and even by other Jewish and pro-Israel groups.

First, let’s get the chronology and the geography straight.

2010, Seattle

In late 2010, in Seattle, Washington, anti-Israel groups sought to run advertisements on the side of municipal buses reading: “Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work.” Just before the anti-Israel ads were about to go up, the county executive crafted a new policy banning all non-commercial advertisements. The new policy enabled the municipality to reject not only the anti-Israel ad, but also two counter-ads that had been submitted, one of which was one proposed by Geller, the other one offered by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

September, 2011, New York

Last September, another series of anti-Israel ads went up in various transit systems including the one in New York City. This ad shows two smiling dads – one Israeli, one “Palestinian,” with their young daughters. The ad copy: “Be on our side. We’re on the side of peace and Justice. End U.S. military aid to Israel.” In other words, American tax dollars is being used to support Israeli militancy and injustice. These ads ran in 18 NYC subway stops for a month, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

That same month, Geller’s organization, AFDI, submitted the anti-Jihad ad. The MTA refused to run it, claiming the ad violated its advertising standards because it “demeans[s] an individual or group of individuals.” AFDI claimed that rejection violated the U.S. Constitution. On September 227, 2011, AFDI, Pamela Geller, and AFDI’s associate director, Robert Spencer, filed suit against the MTA claiming that the transit agency’s no-demeaning standard constitutes “viewpoint discrimination” and is unconstitutional and therefore the MTA’s rejection of AFDI’s ad unlawfully restricted their free speech.

On July 20, 2012, Judge Englemayer, the federal district court judge in New York before whom the matter was heard, ruled that the MTA’s prohibition on “demeaning” language is unconstitutional and the ad must run. Significantly, the court ruled 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.

While AFDI was the victor in the case, Judge Engelmayer threw more than a few crumbs to the ad’s opponents.

For example, there was a fundamental disagreement over the use of the term “savage” – Geller claims it refers only to those committing acts of barbarism against innocent victims in the name of Islam. Judge Englemayer, however, held that a reasonable person could conclude the term referred simply to Muslims.

What’s more, the judge practically wrote a recipe for the MTA to follow for rewriting its advertising policy so that a ban on an ad like AFDI’s could, in the future be upheld by a court.

But it would be wrong to conclude that while AFDI may have won the (legal) battle, it lost the war, because AFDI’s ad was specifically created to counter anti-Israel ads. If there is an MTA policy that constitutionally prohibits AFDI-like ads, presumably it will also cover anti-Israel ads. If not, AFDI will surely respond with another counter to any such permissible anti-Israel ads.

AFDI’s ads began running today, as the MTA conceded that under its “existing ad standards as modified by the injunction, the MTA is required to run the ad.” However, there were numerous reports that the MTA is planning on revising its standards in an executive sessions scheduled for this week.

San Francisco, August – September, 2012

The San Francisco Bay Area Transit system also played host last year to ads that called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, claiming Israel to be unfair and unjust. AFDI’s anti-Jihad ads began running on the sides of buses in San Francisco on August 7, at least in part based on the New York federal judge’s July 20 decision.

However, two things have since happened. First, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced it will give all of the proceeds from AFDI’s ads to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission to support “educational activities.” Secondly, although the Muni is apparently convinced that banning AFDI’s ads would violate the First Amendment, yesterday it began running a disclaimer ad next to every one of AFDI’s ads, which is, according to Geller’s website Atlas Shrugs,  
a first in outdoor advertising history, next to our pro-freedom, anti-jihad ads. Their disclaimer reads: “SFMTA Policy Prohibits Discrimination Based On National Origin, Religion and Other Characteristics and Condemns Statements That Describe Any Group As Savages.” Really? Were the Nazis savages? The Taliban? Hamas? Al Qaeda? Boko Haram? Daniel Pearl’s beheaders? The Fogel family’s cold blooded murderers?

Never one to rest on her laurels, Geller’s AFDI immediately responded with ads placed on the sides of San Francisco buses stating: “Why is the city of San Francisco enforcing Sharia law? San Francisco is running disclaimers next to our pro-Israel ads. Why didn’t they run them next to vicious anti-Israel ads? Stop Anti-Semitism in San Francisco government.”

Washington, D.C., September 2012

Washington, D.C. is another transit system in which anti-Israel ads ran last year. AFDI chose to run its anti-Jihad ad in the District, and on September 6 entered into a contract with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to run the ad beginning on September 24. However, on September 18, Geller was contacted and informed that “due to the situations happening around the world at this time, we are postponing the start of this program to a future date to be determined.”

The “situations happening around the world” are the violent riots by Muslims which were set off, some claim, by the airing on YouTube of the video, “The Innocence of Muslims.” That video depicts the Islamic prophet Mohammed as a pedophile and a violence-loving man which is considered blasphemy by strict Muslims.

Although the WMATA is refusing to run the ads, out of “concern for public safety,” the New York City police department spokesperson Paul Browne told a reporter that they “were not anticipating adding any security” to the subways while the ads are up, and that they had “not received any threats or reports of violence relating to them.”

Read it all

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