A Victory For Free Speech in the Subway

A judge in New York has ruled that the city’s transportation authority cannot refuse to accept display ads in subway stations because they are “demeaning” to jihadists. The New York Post reports:

A provocative ad that equates some Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up next week in the New York City subway system, just as violent protests in the Middle East over an anti-Islamic film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad.

A conservative blogger who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11 terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations on Monday. It reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The conservative blogger is Pamela Geller; if you go to her site, Atlas Shrugs, you can see the ad:

Note that the poster contains no reference either to a religion or to an ethnic group. It contrasts “Israel” with “Jihad.”

Abdul Yasar, a New York subway rider who considers himself an observant Muslim, said Geller’s ad was insensitive in an unsettling climate for Muslims.

“If you don’t want to see what happened in Libya and Egypt after the video — maybe not so strong here in America — you shouldn’t put this up,” Yasar said.

So the threat is explicit. But toward whom is the ad insensitive? Jihadists, evidently. Are we really supposed to be sensitive to the feelings of jihadists?

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run Geller’s ad, saying it was “demeaning.” But U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled last month that it is protected speech under the First Amendment.

“Demeaning”? Again, demeaning toward whom? Jihadists. Are jihadists now some kind of protected class?

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, backed publication of the “patently offensive” ads.

But aren’t they offensive only to jihadists, which is to say, mass murderers and their supporters? If you advocate mass murder, shouldn’t you expect to be offended? At a minimum?

Opponents say the ads imply that Muslims are savages.

But wait! Aren’t we constantly told that jihadists aren’t really Muslims? That Islam is staunchly opposed to terrorism? So how are all Muslims encompassed within the term “jihad”?

“We recognize the freedom of speech issues and her right to be a bigot and a racist,” said Muneer Awad, the executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But he said he hopes the MTA and elected officials “take on a leadership role in denouncing hate speech.”

So now jihadists are a race? I am so confused! And does CAIR really think that denouncing jihadists constitutes “hate speech?” If jihadists can’t be denounced, then who can be?

This is the sort of confusion that is, in its own way, clarifying.

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