Over four million New Yorkers ride the subway every day. Staring in the faces of a good number of these people – for the last four years – have been advertisements for the Museum of [Tashmish Hamitah]. (Of course the actual name of the museum does not include the euphemism we employed.)
When we first noticed these suggestive ads – which always contain the museum’s name in big, bold letters – we felt uncomfortable but figured they would be gone in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, we have been proven wrong. Although most ad campaigns run a couple of weeks, this particular campaign has lasted several years, becoming a fixture of the New York subway system.
In other words, nearly every day, at least several hundred thousand people – including tens of thousands of innocent teenagers and children – see these ads. Among them are many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of yeshiva boys and Bais Yaakov girls who ride on trains that pass through frum neighborhoods.
Last year, these ads appeared on the outside of MTA buses driving in Brooklyn. Local residents, including Councilman Kalman Yeger complained, and the ads were removed. “I think it’s not a family-friendly ad, frankly, and our buses should be reserved for things that are family-friendly,” Yeger told CBS at the time.
We urge Yeger – and other community leaders and activists – to speak up once again. Indecent material does not belong on public transportation. No New Yorker should be forced to view these ads every single day.
We should note, incidentally, that the MTA does not accept every ad submitted to it. Just last year, it rejected an ad from a company advertising products it deemed morally indecent. And for more than 10 years after the Museum of [Tashmish Hamitah] was founded in 2002, the MTA refused to run its ads.
So as recently as approximately five years ago, the MTA refused to run these ads. Now it runs them every day of the year. Enough. The time has come to speak out. We must let the MTA and community representatives know that we find these ads offensive and spiritually harmful and ask for them to be removed.
The fact that the MTA refused to run these ads for a decade proves it is sensitive to the public’s feelings. Had we raised our voices five years ago, the MTA likely would have backed down. But we didn’t. That was a mistake – but it is not to late to correct it. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, the only thing necessary for impurity to triumph is for good men to say nothing.
So let us remain silent no longer. Let us – together with all decent New Yorkers – speak up and demand that these ads be taken down.