The nation’s largest mass transit system, effective immediately, banned all political advertising on its subways and buses Wednesday rather than obey a judge’s ruling that a pro-Israel group was allowed to display an advertisement that states, “Hamas Killing Jews” on New York City buses.
The resolution prompted indignation from members of the MTA board and the public who accused the agency of blocking first amendment rights.
“The New York City transit system is our public square,” argued Christopher Dunn, who works for the New York Civil Liberties Union. “It is the place that virtually all of us pass through day in and day out. And because of that, it is a central part of our speech in New York City.”
The decision says “that we can’t determine the difference between hate speech and political speech and [medical]-related ads,” said board member Andrew Albert. “New Yorkers are pretty sharp in that regard.”
Pamela Geller, the woman behind the lawsuit, showed up at the meeting with placards of the proposed ads.
“You call my ads hateful?” she said. “These are actual quotes. Why aren’t we talking about the ideology behind these quotes?”