Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Blog

One of Pamela Geller’s hate groups, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, has posted ads on the New York and San Francisco mass transit systems that read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad."

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) had refused to post the ads, but a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in August that they constituted protected speech under the First Amendment. That same ruling, however, left open the possibility for the MTA to revisit its policies and adopt a “rule that hold ads and commentary…to a standard of civility.” At an upcoming Board meeting, MTA officials reportedly will discuss banning all non-commercial ads from the subway.

Following the court victory, AFDI placed the same ads on the San Francisco subway system. Officials there “condemn[ed] the use of any language that belittles, demeans or disparages others,” and announced that they, too, would be reviewing their ad policies.  An October 4, Federal Court hearing will determine whether the AFDI ad will be allowed on public transportation in the nation’s capital, as well.

Media outlets around the country have expressed surprise at Geller’s choice to post these ads in the wake of recent violence around the Middle East.  Geller remains undaunted, however, saying  "In my opinion any time is a good time to blaspheme because I am living in America and freedom of speech is not the eighth or tenth or fifteenth amendment, but the first." 

"What are you going to do?” she asked.  “Are you going to reward Islamic extremism? I will not sacrifice my freedom so as not to offend savages."

Condemnations of this offensive ad campaign have come from all walks of life, including local Jewish organizations in New York that formed a coalition to oppose Islamophobia. The most creative responses to this ad campaign, however, have emerged through Twitter, where opponents of bigotry and advocates of tolerance are using the hashtag #MySubwayAd to promote their alternative texts for what they would like to see posted in the subway system. Follow the hashtag for some funny commentary and some inspiring pronouncements. Also, if you want to do your own versions of "In any war between X and X, support X. Support X.  Defeat X" (fill in the blanks), be sure to tweet them at us! We'll be retweeting the most creative lines.

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