Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why is there a difference between these ads?

Pamela Gellers Muhammad Ad Rejected By SMART System in Detroit, Atheist Anti God Ad Accepted

Pamela Gellers Muhammad Ad Rejected By SMART System in Detroit, Atheist Anti God Ad Accepted

The $64,000 question is; can you spot the one that was not approved to run on a public transit system in the US?

From The Blaze January 30 by Bill Hallowell


Religious advertisements have been known to spark intense debate. Consider the anti-God billboards that are regularly posted by non-theist groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists. But it isn’t only non-believers who invoke controversy with their messaging.

Pamela Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) have also come under intense scrutiny for subway and bus ads that target Islamic extremism. Now, the AFDI is embroiled in a new battle over a proposed anti-Muhammad ad that was rejected this week by Detroit’s Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) bus system.

In an e-mail to TheBlaze on Tuesday evening, the AFDI president noted that, while SMART previously accepted an “anti-God” atheist ad from the Detroit Coalition for Reason (DCOR), the public transit company has rejected her organization’s ad. This is particularly interesting, seeing as the AFDI modeled its design almost entirely after the DCOR’s banner.
“Our ad, same ad, with one word flipped, was rejected,” Geller told TheBlaze.

The original atheist design featured clouds and the words, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” The organization’s web address was also present to the bottom left of the ad, sending Internet users to a web site that encourages people to “shine the light of reason” and to reject faith and religion.

As you can see below, AFDI ad looks almost entirely similar to the aforementioned description. The only difference between the designs is that the word “God” is swapped out for “Muhammad,” the holy prophet in the Islamic faith. And the web address in the latter ad encourages those viewing it to go to, a web site that wages some potentially-offensive allegations against the religious figure.

Obviously the similarities were intentional, with Geller telling TheBlaze that her quest to see the Muhammad ad get placed had everything to do with examining free speech as it applies to the Islamic faith.

“This message parallels the atheist ads — ‘Don’t Believe in God? You’re Not Alone’ — that ran previously,” she explained. “Since they were accepted, I modeled this ad after them to see if the freedom of speech applied to criticism of Islam in our cowardly and politically correct age.”

In a letter that Geller forwarded to TheBlaze, CBS Outdoor’s Howard Marcus rejected the ad, citing a past legal battle that AFDI waged against SMART over a previous rejection.

“The proposed advertisement submitted by Pamela Geller has been reviewed under SMART’s content policy. SMART, consistent with its review process, also reviewed the referred-to website:,” read Marcus’ e-mail. “Consistent with its policy, with the Sixth Circuit opinion in AFDI v SMART, and consistent with other law, SMART declines to post the advertisement.”

Read it all

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