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Savaged for Daring to Name Savagery: Pamela Geller Attacked by Critics of Free Speech

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 represents, so Geller initiated an emergency court action at the end of last week to enforce her First Amendment rights.

Pamela Geller

Pamela Geller

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.”

On September 20, AFDI brought a lawsuit seeking an injunction action by the federal district court in Washington, D.C. to require the transit authority to run her ads now, during the time period in which they were contracted to be run. Once again, AFDI’s attorneys are claiming viewpoint discrimination, a classic violation of the First Amendment.  AFDI’s Complaint against the WAMTA states:

The WMATA’s speech restriction is based on the perceived negative response that Plaintiffs’ message might receive from certain viewers based on its content and viewpoint. However, a viewer’s reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. This is known as a “heckler’s veto,” which is impermissible under the First Amendment.

When asked for a comment on the controversy, Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University Law school and an expert in constitutional and international law, had this to say:

The DC Metro is obviously trying to avoid trouble by granting foreign extremists a veto on American speech. They also seem to be using the flimsy pretext that anti-American riots are linked to particular speech by Americans to try to override the First Amendment.

So here is the lineup on Monday, September 24, 2012.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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19 Responses to “Savaged for Daring to Name Savagery: Pamela Geller Attacked by Critics of Free Speech”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    Great blog Lori.

    I might add that the Obama apology pro-sharia campaign ads on Pakistan TV cost the American taxpayers $70,000.

  2. Charlie Hall says:

    This ad is about the least offensive thing Geller has ever promoted.

  3. Jean Ready says:

    There is nothing wrong with the Ad, that speaks of so much truth. Thank you Pamela.

  4. I admire Pamela. She shows great leadership and I wish her well.

  5. Tim Upham says:

    Nothing but classic side taking. Say something awful about the other side, to really play it up how bad they are. I think the American Constitution needs an amendment outlawing obnoxious behavior.

  6. Liad Bar-el says:

    Charlie, to those who believe falsehood, truth is offensive. Geller speaks the truth. Our Jewish sage, apparently not yours, Rambam, spoke the truth about Muhammad centuries ago, 1172, that he is a false prophet and insane. How would you like to have this truth posted on buses and in subways throughout the world?

    “Time to wake up, smell the coffee and see the writing on the wall.”

  7. Charlie Hall says:

    Rambam never engaged in the kind of hatemongering against Muslims that Geller has. Not that the anti-religious Geller would care about what Rambam said.

  8. Charlie Hall says:

    also note which side of the Third Crusade Rambam supported.

  9. Ltc Howard says:

    Pamela Geller on CNN: Erin Burnett cuts segment at Hamas-CAIR description, AUDIO secretly taped.
    This video is an interesting exercise in interviewing and response.

    A CNN interviewer , Erin Burnett, certainly has a prepared agenda and certainly she got more pushback than she bargained for.

    Pamela Geller on CNN: Erin Burnett cuts segment at Hamas-CAIR description, AUDIO secretly taped.

  10. Liad Bar-el says:

    Rambam literally saved the Sephardic Jews from great persecution by giving them advice which they followed…without an IDF. All Jews everywhere need to learn and follow his advice even today.

    Charlie, go study and learn before you open your mouth against Rambam.

  11. Grace Acosta says:

    I love Ms. Geller so much! If only the rest of us had her courage (and energy!) just think what we could accomplish for world wide democracy. You GO girl!

  12. The principle about the civilised man and the savage is obviousooy an unsound one. Civilized people have often done wrong to savages.

  13. I agree that the wording of this ad could benefit from some professional Madison Av packaging. The wording is not strategically astute. It isn't too hard to make out a case against Islam and societies based upon the Islamic belief system because of their inherent deprivation of civil and human rights as such rights are ordinarily defined by western democratic values.

    In all societies which are based upon the Islamic belief system and sharia law, there is no freedom of speech or freedom of and from religion. Blasphemy and apostasy are serious, even capital, crimes. Misogyny and homophobia are endemic to all Islamic socieites together with female genital mutilation, child brides, honor killing and Koranic justification for wife beating. In Morocco, for example, the law allows a rapist to go scot free by offering to marry his victim.

    Islamic governance is repressive. Premarrital, homosexual and extramarital sex are serious, even capital, crimes. There is no separation of state because unelected clerics are given authority to trump the decisions of elected officials. Just a day or so ago Egyptain President Morsi, great secularist he, stated publicly that in his view neither a Christian nor a woman was fit to be president of Egypt, but that, ultimately, it was a matter for the religious authorities to decide.

    I support the work of those who struggle like PG and Robert Spencer of Jihadwatch.org to out the civil and human rights abuses of Islam and shria law, but, like the wording of this ad, their struggle is often undermined by unwise strategy. This is especially true when such blogsters expand their criticism of the Islamic belief system to a criticism of American domestic and foreign policy in general. They often shoot themselves in the foot by adopting some very questionable positions, positions that can be reasonably argued to be "rightwing." In the process they alienate liberals and progressives who would otherwise be much more supportive of them.

    They may win the legal battle to have this ad published, but I wonder how much good it will do to their cause in the long run.

  14. Charlie Hall says:

    "go study and learn before you open your mouth against Rambam."

    I praise Rambam, I don't speak against him!

  15. Rose Pappas says:

    WHEN RIFQA BARY RAN AWAY FROM HOME TO SAVE HER LIFE, PAMELA GELLER STOOD UP FOR HER. SHE IS A WOMAN OF GREAT COMPASSION AND LOVE FOR "RIGHT", WHICH SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT MEANS ANYMORE. PEOPLE WHO MURDER THEIR DAUGHTERS, PEOPLE WHO BEHEAD THEIR WIVES, PEOPLE WHO POUR ACID ON LITTLE GIRL'S FACES, PEOPLE WHO ATTACK THE INNOCENT AND MURDER ENTIRE FAMILIES, PEOPLE WHO THREATEN TO MURDER HALF OF THE WORLD POPULATION IF THEY DO NOT BOW DOWN TO THEIR "GOD", PEOPLE WHO THREATEN TO WIPE THE JEWS OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH—-THESE PEOPLE ARE SAVAGE, SAVAGE, SAVAGE, SERVANTS OF HELL AND NEED TO BE LABELED FOR WHAT THEY ARE. PEOPLE WHO CANNOT SEE THIS SAVAGERY FOR WHAT IT IS ARE MINDLESS HYPNOTIZED, PROGRAMMED ROBOTS WHO HAVE NO WORKING CONSCIENCE LEFT. HOORAY FOR PAMELA, THE IRON LADY WARRIOR FOR GOOD!!!

  16. Charlie Hall says:

    " SHE IS A WOMAN OF GREAT COMPASSION "

    Her Randian ideology denigrates compassion!

    In addition to being an anti-Muslim bigot, Geller is also a nativist. Bary was an illegal immigrant and Geller would have had her rounded up and deported along with her family!

  17. Devora Khayyat says:

    Do you know how the Rambam referred to Mohammed?

  18. The bottom line is that a behavioral choice, specifically the choice to engage in mindless violence like 9/11, stoning women to death, bombing subways, and so on is neither a race nor a religion.

  19. Charlie Hall says:

    Yes. And he was not pleased with the way Muslim societies treated Jews in his time. But he was even less favorable towards Christianity and sided with Saladin in the Third Crusade.

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