Associated Press: Boston Transit Agency Sued Over Ad Rejection

Here is a somewhat even-handed mainstream media accout of our lawsuit against the city of Boston, from the Associated Press. Surprising. But subtle editorialzing is imbued in the reporting. For example, “An organization that describes itself as pro-Israel and anti-Islamist” — have you ever seen a news story on CAIR that says “an organization that describrs itself as a Muslim civil rights group”?

“The MBTA is not opposed to groups expressing their points of view, but it must be done in a respectful manner that recognizes and appreciates the cultural diversity of a public transit environment,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

The anti-Israel ad they are currently running is hardly respectful. And frankly, I do not have to respect the “cultural diversity” of cutting someone’s head off. This is Boston, mind you, site of the Boston Marathon bombing.

This is a fair report too: American Freedom Defense Initiative on WBZ-AM (Radio) — Boston, MA

The Associated Press

Boston Transit Agency Sued Over Ad Rejection By  November 8, 2013

BOSTON — An organization that describes itself as pro-Israel and anti-Islamist has sued Boston’s transit agency because it rejected a proposed subway advertisement on the grounds that it was “demeaning or disparaging.”

The ad was being funded by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which seeks to combat what it calls the spread of Islamism in the United States. It reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel; defeat Jihad.”Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.00.41 PM

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials rejected the ad on the basis that it violated their advertising guidelines. They said they would be willing to accept modified ads from the group.

“The MBTA is not opposed to groups expressing their points of view, but it must be done in a respectful manner that recognizes and appreciates the cultural diversity of a public transit environment,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

Lawyers for the organization told The Boston Globe they are unwilling to change the advertisement.

“Our clients have no interest whatsoever in changing the advertisement because there is no constitutional basis for the government to make such a demand,” said Robert Muise, an attorney with the American Freedom Law Center, a public interest law firm representing the group.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative ads were a response to a different series of ads posted on Boston’s subway by a pro-Palestinian group.

That advertisement, which first appeared last month, depicts four maps that purport to show “the Palestinian loss of land” to Israel between 1946 and 2010. Text alongside the maps says: “4.7 million Palestinians are Classified by the UN as Refugees.”

It was originally removed from the subway system when the T received complaints, but transportation officials later reversed course.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, lawyers on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative argued that the T applied its standards of appropriate advertising unequally.

In rejecting the advertisement, the MBTA sought to censor the organization’s views, the complaint said.

The decision to return last month’s purportedly anti-Israel advertisements “was motivated by a discriminatory animus against those speakers who support Israel in this conflict,” the complaint alleged.

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