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AFDI vs Boston Transit (MBTA) II: New Lawsuit, “Savages” vs “Those Engaged in Savage Acts”

What, pray tell, is the difference between “savages” and “those engaged in savage acts”? That is the question to which only the MBTA knows the answer. And I am not so sure that even they know ….

We have just filed a follow-up lawsuit  in our continuing legal fight against the MBTA for its arbitrary and absurd violation of out First Amendment freedoms. City, state and federal government have lost sight of their duty, to protect and defend our Constitutional freedoms. Instead, they seem more intent on enforcing the blasphemy laws under the sharia (“do not criticize Islam.”)

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 12.57.11 AM

We sued the MBTA for refusing our pro-Israel ad (above) that stated: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad,” while allowing pro-jihad ads against Israel to run. That case is ongoing.  Our first hearing was predictable. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton ruled against us in our preliminary injunction against Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). No surprise there: during our hearing Judge Gorton said that he did not have the authority to rule on matters out of his jurisdiction. Still, Gorton dropped the ball on the question of “reasonableness.”

In the interest of “reasonableness,” we tweaked our ad. It read, “In any war between the civilized man and the those engaged in savage acts, support the civilized man. Defeat Violent Jihad. Support Israel.” BOSTONISRAELAD(3)

The above was accepted. So I tweaked it again. I made a very minor change. I replaced “engaged in savage acts” with “savages.” See below:

newsavage

The MBTA rejected this ad, proving yet again how capricious and dangerous these corrupt bureaucrats are. How dare they restrict my speech based on their prejudice and power. Government out of control.

So we filed another lawsuit against the MBTA here.

Complaint w.exhibits ECF Filed

“New MBTA lawsuit focuses on free speech and Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Boston Business, February 9, 2014

A pro-Israel group whose advertisements equating opposition to Israel with Islamic jihad and suggesting the country’s opponents are savages were rejected by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority sued the quasi-public agency and its top administrator in federal court Friday.

The group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and two of its leaders cited federal civil rights protections in asking the court to make the MBTA and its head, Beverly Scott, accept the ads and put them at locations that could include transit stations and the sides of buses.

The legal skirmish is the latest in a series of disputes involving the MBTA and ads taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (See the ads in the attached slideshow.)

The back-and-forth began last year after the MBTA accepted an ad that includes a series of maps purporting to show Israel’s expansion at the expense of Palestinians over the last 60 years and notes the official “refugee” status of millions of Palestinians. That ad also has appeared in New York City and Washington D.C. transit systems.

In early November, the MBTA’s advertising agency briefly took the posters down amid complaints but restored them within days.

The buyer of the map ad was Henry Clifford, a Connecticut retiree who spent much of his career on Wall Street and for the last 15 years has run a group called the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine.

Clifford said in a telephone interview with the Business Journal Sunday afternoon that his advertisements are neither pro- nor anti-Israel, but acknowledged his critics tend to be pro-Israel and his fans tend to be pro-Palestinian.

“We don’t express an opinion,” he said, adding that the committee’s leadership of a dozen members is half Jewish and half Christian.

The leaders of the American Freedom Defense Initiative viewed the map ad differently. Their lawsuit filed Friday calls it “a controversial advertisement that addresses the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by conveying a message and viewpoint that criticizes Israel.”

They argue further in the court complaint: “The Anti-Israel advertisement conveys the unmistakable message that Israelis are ‘persecuting’ Palestinians, and as a result of this persecution, are forcing the Palestinians ‘outside the country of [their] nationality.’ In short, the advertisement conveys the unmistakable message that Israelis are war criminals (or violators of international law, at a minimum), thereby demeaning and disparaging Israelis, Israel as a nation, and Jews in general.”

According to its suit filed Friday, the American Freedom Defense Initiative responded to the map ad in late October by seeking to place its own MBTA advertisement stating: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad”

The text echoes a phrase by the late author Ayn Rand. Despite the literary reference, the MBTA declined to run the piece. According to a separate court case that is not yet resolved, the MBTA called that ad “demeaning or disparaging.”

Having failed, at least for now, to place that ad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative sought more recently to place a new ad. According to the complaint filed Friday, the new ad stated: “In any war between the civilized man and those engaged in savage acts, support the civilized man. Defeat Violent Jihad. Support Israel.” That copy was approved by the MBTA, the plaintiffs state in their suit.

Then, according to the suit, the pro-Israel group sought to revise that approved ad to read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Defeat violent jihad. Support Israel.”

That third version of the ad, like the first, was rejected by the MBTA or its advertising-placement agency as inappropriate, according to the suit.

The suit states: “Defendants’ application of its Advertising Guidelines as a basis to reject AFDI Advertisement III is a pretext to censor Plaintiffs’ message because MBTA officials oppose Plaintiffs’ view on the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. Moreover, Defendants’ decision to restore the advertisements critical of Israel (the Anti-Israel Advertisement), but then deny AFDI Advertisement III, which supports Israel, was motivated by a discriminatory animus against those speakers who support Israel in this conflict and who believe that Islamic terrorists who murder innocent men, women, and children in Israel in the name of jihad are savages and deserve to be publicly labeled as such.”

The plaintiffs argue that they are being denied their rights to free speech, equal protection and due process The suit asks the court to force the MBTA to run the advertisement and to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is based in New Hampshire and describes itself in court documents as “an organization that is incorporated under the laws of the State of New Hampshire. AFDI is a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, and individual rights.”

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