In our ongoing fight for free speech with the city of Boston, we had filed a second lawsuit against the MBTA for their capricious and arbitrary flouting of the First Amendment.
Let’s be honest. If any town in America needs our pro-Israel ads, it’s Boston.
We resubmitted our pro-Israel ad, and instead of using the word savage we substituted “those engaged in savage acts.” Ridiculous, yes, but we meant to make a point. More ridiculous was the MBTA’s acceptance of that ad. So let’s get this straight: we can’t run an ad that says, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Defeat jihad. Support Israel.” But you can say, “In any war between the civilized man and those that engage in savage acts, support the civilized man. Defeat jihad. Support Israel.” What’s the difference? Which was our very point.
Judge Gorton denied the motion on the basis that “such blatant gamesmanship and deliberate confrontations” didn’t warrant granting relief. Indeed. But whose gamesmanship is it? Who is toying with our most basic and fundamental freedom? It is not us, Judge Groton. We are not playing games. We are dead serious about the First Amendment. We are fighting for that most basic element of the world’s first moral government based on individual rights. These tin-pot bureaucrats dictating what can and cannot be said according to their prejudices mirror the most closed societies.
And yet, perhaps it’s all for the best. These rulings are based on bad precedent. We knew going in that overcoming the Ridley decision, which upheld the MBTA’s right to reject ads it considered “demeaning” to some group, would be an enormous hurdle. The Ridley case is the Dred Scott of free-speech decisions. And during our hearing, Judge Gorton specifically stated that, being a district judge, he did not have the authority to rule on or alter the decision in that case. Ridley needs to be overturned. That battle needs to be fought, and we are the ones who will do it. My legal team, AFLC’s David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise, and I mean to do just that.
“Judge Denies Motion to Display ‘Tweaked’ ‘Pro-Israel’ Ad on MBTA Space,” March 17th 2014, BostonInNo
A judge has denied the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s latest motion that would have required the MBTA to display a modified version of a controversial ‘pro-Israel’ advertisement.
In a seven-page court document provided to BostInno, U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton found the AFDI “acted in bad faith” and failed to demonstrate that the T acted unreasonably when it denied the group’s third version of an advertisement, which read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Defeat violent Jihad. Support Israel.”
Last fall, the AFDI submitted the first of three ads to the MBTA reading: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” The MBTA rejected the ad, finding it was “demeaning or disparaging.”
In December, the court declined to enter a preliminary injunction that would require the MBTA to display the advertisement, on the basis of an earlier court ruling.
In January, the AFDI submitted a second version of the ad, which stated: “In any war between the civilized man and those engaged in savage acts, support the civilized man. Defeat violent Jihad. Support Israel.” The MBTA reviewed the second version and determined that it met its advertising standards.
On January 7, Scott Goldsmith, a representative of Titan Outdoor LLC, the T’s advertising contractor, notified the AFDI that the modified version had been accepted and asked the group “to provide specifications,” according to the court documents.
Rather than provide specifications, AFDI co-founder Pam Geller sent an email to Goldsmith the following day proposing a “tweak” to the advertisement – a combination of the previous versions: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Defeat violent Jihad. Support Israel.”
This tweaked version was reviewed and subsequently denied by the T, which found it to be demeaning or disparaging. The AFDI was informed of the decision on Jan. 17 and requested a “formal determination” of the T’s ruling.
MBTA General Counsel Paige Scott Reed, on Jan. 29, provided the formal determination in a letter, explaining that the third version was “very similar to the rejected ad.” However, Reed wrote, the T would be willing to display the second proposal.
In February, the AFDI filed another motion for preliminary injunction that would require the T to display the third version of the advertisement.
In an email, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo noted Judge Gorton denied the motion on the basis that “Such blatant gamesmanship and deliberate confrontations” didn’t warrant granting relief.
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