Anti-Islamic Subway Ad Scuffle: Time To Pick Sides

jihadvandals.jpg
Freedom of expression(s)?
It took just over 24 hours for several subway ads featuring an offensive, anti-Islamic message were vandalized, which, somehow, has led to a debate about the First Amendment, as apparent in the comment section of our story abut the vandals posted yesterday.

The entire debate is a bit of an enigma/completely contradictory -- it seems many of the people who detest the ads and want them taken down are the same people advocating for the free speech rights of those vandalizing the ads.

In one case of vandalism (that just happened to be caught on tape by a New York Post film crew), Mona Elthaway spray paints not only one of the ads but also a woman who was trying to protect it. She was not-so-promptly arrested.

The debate is this: Initially, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority declined to approve the ads due to the "demeaning" message they convey. However, a federal judge ruled in July that not allowing the ads violated the First Amendment rights of the American Freedom Defense, the pro-Israel group that paid for the ad. Some say that if the AFD has the Constitutional right to express itself with the ad, then people like Elthaway have the right to express themselves over the ad -- with spray paint.

That's the debate, anyway. The reality is this: vandalism is against the law, as we also pointed out yesterday (while not-so-subtly encouraging vandalism). The ads are the property of the MTA and the ADF, which paid money to put them up. And while we are firm advocates of the First Amendment, there are certain ways to go about practicing it if your goal is not to get arrested. Vandalizing property is not protected by the First Amendment, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong -- you just have to be willing to get arrested for it.

Below are some of the comments about the spraying from our post yesterday:

-"Mona has a right to express herself and she did, period." - rainbowthinks.

-"How is standing in the way of freedom of speech "courageous"? I agree that when it comes to mistreatment of Muslims, Islam is by all means to be considered a race and prejudice as racism. But ultimately, Islam is a philosophy and it's fair game to make judgements and criticisms on that, and to promote the viewpoint you're on the side of. Instead of graffiting over these, she should be organising counterpoints, if there are any to be made." - andrew.moncrieff.

-"My, my, people really do not seem to understand what free speech ic. Sorry, but covering up someone else's speech is neither 1) a conversation now 2) an exercise in free speech. It is simply attempting to deny others their right to free speech. You might not like the speech, but your rights do not entitle you to trample the rights of others. You have the right to take out your own billboard. You have the right to protest. You have the right to write articles. But tearing up the speech of others, and then calling *that* free speech... is nonsensical." -eddiewilson.

If you ask us, we 100-percent approve of what Elthaway did. But it's not protected -- nor should it be protected -- by the First Amendment. It was an act of civil disobedience intended to let people know that not everyone thinks the same way as the ADF. And with civil disobedience comes consequences. At the same time, we don't like what the ADF has to say, but we respect its right to say it -- as we respect the rights of people to go fuck up their ads so long as they're willing to accept the consequences.

We want to know what you think though: should Elthaway's "expression" protected by the First Amendment?

Cast your vote below.




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9 comments
thissalantine
thissalantine

Ok so... being against Jihad is the same as being against Islam? So you're saying Islam = Jihad after all? Wow, all that money the OIC spent trying to convince us that only 'extremists' practice Jihad...

 

Thanks for clearing this up for us.

theranthrope
theranthrope

I'm only for freedom of speech for speech that I agree with.

slewballer
slewballer

This isn't an anti-Muslim ad. It's an anti-Jihadist ad. An ad against the same nonsensical people who turn to violence and senseless killing when one idiot from America makes a film about them being violent, senseless killers.

AConcernedCitizen
AConcernedCitizen

If an organization were to put up a billboard denouncing gay people... or perhaps Caucasians, or African-Americans... or unwed mothers...  Do you not think that someone, somewhere would try to obliterate the hateful message so that it is not perpetuated in the public eye?

theranthrope
theranthrope

I also DEMAND that men with guns and badges prevent or punish speech that I disagree with ...because, er ...freedom! So, basically, I am totally AGAINST free speech.

thissalantine
thissalantine

 @slewballer Agree with you about the anti-Jihad part. But the violence came as a result of the leader of the Hezbollah calling specifically for riots on the anniversary of 9/11 on state television. He pointed at the movie trailer as motivation TO riot. With a 50% illiteracy rate in the region, why would we assume that most could find the movie trailer in the first place? being able to read is CRUCIAL to being able to navigate the internet, is it not?: Someone had to have pointed this video out to 'the general public for them to even know about it.

thissalantine
thissalantine

 @AConcernedCitizen How is being against Jihad equal to being a bigot? And don't tell me that jihad means struggle, lest I be forced to quote to you what the Muslim Brotherhood's definition of jihad is.

ScarletLion
ScarletLion

Yes. So what?  Just because someone doesn't want you to say something doesn't mean you don't have the right to say it.  What if the poster was pro-gay? Or pro-white? Or pro-black? Or pro-unwed-mothers? Or pro-jihad?  Would you support someone spray painting those posters because someone didn't like them?

thissalantine
thissalantine

 @ScarletLion Um, totally if it was pro-jihad. Jihad is a call to violence and murder. The rest of the people you listed? For instance I can't really remember anyone gay specifically being pro-violence. They might be pro-feather boa in shades of shocking pink and lime green, and while that might be violence to my sense of fashion, it's certainly not violence in the terms of deadly force.

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