Pamela Geller’s controversial anti-Islam ads will begin appearing in 10 subway stations throughout the city, the MTA announced yesterday. These ads have been the subject of much litigation over the past few years as Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative group successfully sued the MTA over its advertising practices. After Geller won her case on First Amendment grounds, the same judge chided the authority over its slow response to the ruling, and thus, in advance of next week’s board meeting, the authority’s hand has been forced.
As The Times reported yesterday, the MTA is essentially being forced by a judge’s order to accept and publish the ads. The MTA had asked for a stay pending the September 27 board meeting, but the judge told the MTA it had two weeks to revise its policy or appeal. Instead, the MTA will run the ads as the references to Muslims as “savages” do not constitute “demeaning” language under the current guidelines.
The MTA said that, in spite of the geopolitical events in the Middle East, it must accept the ad, but it could have appealed or revised its policies. The judge’s initial ruling gave the authority enough of an out to reject the ad had it worked to restructure its advertising guidelines, but the Board hasn’t met since the ruling came out. So the ad will arrive, amidst controversial and fanfare. Hopefully, a new ad policy isn’t too far behind.