Judge says MBTA has right to ban ads that seem to call Palestinians savages

Rand ad

A federal judge has rejected a pro-Israel group's demands that the MBTA be required to immediately post ads that use an Ayn Rand quote to support Israel, because there's nothing wrong with the T's policy to reject any ads that a "reasonable" person would find "demeaning or disparaging" toward a large group of people, such as, say, by calling them savages.

In his ruling, US District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton allowed as how, possibly, the New Hampshire-based American Freedom Defense Initiative might have a point that in referring to "savages" it meant only terrorists who want to destroy Israel, not every single Palestinian, even though, as Gorton noted, the group has a long history of public hatred for Muslims in general.

But the T's rationale for rejecting the ad, that it demeans and disparages all Palestinians by positing Israel as "the civilized man" under attack by "the savage" is also reasonable, he said. And under the prevailing case law in New England on "non-public fora" - a 1990s decision involving a T attempt to ban condom ads - that's good enough, because case law only requires a reasonable decision, not necessarily "the most reasonable" one, Gorton ruled.

Gorton added that rejection of the ad does not prove the T itself hates Israel or otherwise taking a stand on the Israel/Palestine conflict, because at the same time the T was rejecting the savages ad, it was approving an ad by another pro-Israel group that did not refer to anybody as "savages."

In a statement, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott said:

The MBTA is gratified by Judge Gorton's decision that it acted reasonably in not accepting AFDI's proposed advertisement. We will continue to administer our guidelines even-handedly so that our customers will not be subjected to advertisements that demean or disparage any person or group.

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    Comments

    And unfortunately in this case

    (but fortunately in general as a matter of public policy*) the MBTA will not be able to recoup legal fees from this group. So Pam Gellar and her hateful ilk can keep spending their donors' money as they fundraise about being "under attack" by those who love terrorists. It's not their cash, so they don't care.

    Meanwhile our infrastructure crumbles around those of us who actually live here.

    *Just remember that for every group like this suing public agencies there are the ACLU, NAACP, Sierra Club, etc also suing to force action that you (plural) might agree with, thus the caveat that it is generally good public policy.

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    Frankly,

    I don't think that these kinds of ads belong on an MBTA train, inside an MBTA station, or on any vehicle that is used for public transportation. There are other methods to use, if one wants to educate the public about the ongoing decades-old Israeli-Palestinian debacle.