An advertisement on New York city buses containing the words “Hamas Killing Jews”, displayed by a pro-Israel group, has recently prompted a ban of all advertising related to politics on buses and subways.
Members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority met on Wednesday, the 29th of April, to approve the policy. This decision was not left without consequences, as they received many accusations of having broken first
amendment rights and they are already dealing with lawsuits. Given the fact that the public transportation system is something that connects people every day, it also represents a method to share opinions and promote various ideas. Nevertheless, officials did not give in to such pleas and declared that the new resolution is effective immediately, according to Adam Lisberg, MTA spokesman.
Jerome Page, MTA’s general counsel stated that viewpoint messages are not to be accepted anymore, regardless of the nature of the opinion. He also said that the decision resulted from the need to ensure safety and make certain that ads displayed on public means of transport do not incite to violence.
MAT’s decision stems from their attempt to block an ad that was supposed to be displayed on buses , along with other five ads. The American Freedom Defense Initiative asked to have the ads exhibited on public transport and paid $ 100,000 for them. However, one of them contained the quote
“Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah”. A covered face assigned to HamasMTV was next to these words, followed by another quote: “That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?”.
After being sued for refusing to post such an advertisement, the MTA had to face a lawsuit in which they came out defeated, as the judge decided that the ad was protected speech. After having weighed all the aspects, the MTA decided that political ads were not profitable enough to make up for a huge battle in court, so they came up with a better solution, which, unfortunately, affects many agencies.
New York is not the first one to take such drastic measures. Chicago and Philadelphia have also banned all advertisements whose content is political.
Image Source: nbcnewyork