Dateline: New York. The city sells advertising on its buses. Blogger Pamela Geller wants to buy space to run what, in the context of her, is a subtle and balanced advertisement in opposition to building the "Cordoba House" project a few blocks from Ground Zero:
According to Geller, the city's advertising entity refused. According to the city, they just hadn't gotten around to approving it yet. At any rate, Geller's organization sued, and the City caved and allowed the advertisement. It is equally easy for me to imagine (1) that the city resisted an advertisement because it didn't like the message, or (2) Geller filed the lawsuit for publicity before the ad was actually rejected.
Dateline: San Francisco. In a heroic and mostly successful attempt to one-up its prior insipid Nanny-Statery, the City of San Francisco creates a policy saying that the ads it sells on its buses and in its bus stations cannot "promote" weapons, by which it apparently means "depict" them. Hence, despite the fact that its stance is obviously unconstitutional, San Francisco requires horrible posters for horrible movies to be rendered even more horrible by replacing guns with pepper spray, at least in some bus-related venues. No word on whether Steven Spielberg was involved in the decision.
Dateline: Des Moines. The Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers buy advertising on the local transit authority's buses to run the terrifying message "Don't believe in God? You're not alone." Some people who are easily offended by the expression of views differing from theirs object to the message. The transit authority caves and pulls it, resorting to the standard bullshit excuse "it was never authorized in the first place." Later, the transit authority caves again, restoring the ads, explaining that it realized that its ad policy was "outdated," by which it perhaps meant "predating the incorporation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the passage of statutes entitling successful civil rights plaintiffs to payment of attorney fees."
Dateline: Detroit. The city's transit authority sells advertising on its buses. It accepts the "Don't believe in God?" advertisement described above. However, when a buyer attempts to place an advertisement aimed at Muslims leaving their faith ("Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got Questions? Get Answers!") Detroit's transit agency refuses to run the ad. The Thomas More Law Center sues.
Look: it's simple. Don't operate a business if you don't know its fundamentals. If your business is throwing open a public forum for paid advertisement, then don't get into it without knowing, and being committed to following, the relevant First Amendment jurisprudence guiding the legitimate grounds for taking or not taking an advertisement. Don't hire people who are too stupid, or biased, or incompetent, to apply the rules.
By the way: in a perfect world, everyone would have the same stance on the right to run ALL of these advertisements, whatever their individual stance on atheism or Islam or guns. But it's not a perfect world.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Popehat Goes To The Opera: Un ballo in maschera - August 19th, 2017
- Department of Justice Uses Search Warrant To Get Data On Visitors to Anti-Trump Site - August 14th, 2017
- America At The End of All Hypotheticals - August 14th, 2017
- Lawsplainer: Why John Oliver Is Anti-Diversity Now - August 11th, 2017
- Anatomy of a Scam, Chapter 15: The Wheels, They Grind - August 10th, 2017