Mass Transit

New York Subway Bans Ads In Wake of Spraypaint Incident

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Aim for the eyes, Mona!

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday voted to prohibit advertisements that it "reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace."

One day before the decision, journalist Mona Eltahawy made a partially successful attempt to spraypaint over an ad from a pro-Israel group. The MTA held its vote at a raucous meeting during which opponents of the ad shouted down speakers. The New York Times' Matt Flegenheimer reports

The 8-to-0 vote by the authority's board came three days after pro-Israel ads characterizing Islamist opponents of the Jewish state as being "savage" began appearing in subway stations, setting off vandalism, denunciations of the authority and calls for the ads' removal.

The authority had initially rejected the ads, citing their "demeaning" language. The group responsible for the ads, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, sued, and in July won a federal court ruling on First Amendment grounds.

Eltahawy was arrested in a high-profile tagging incident, which she hyped to an extent that led The Nation correspondent Jeremy Scahill to observe, "I think Nelson Mandela talked less about his 27 years in prison than Mona has about her 22 hours in a holding cell." 

It's unclear how the Authority intends to make neutral judgments about what content is likely to cause trouble. The rule may end up something like the policy Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus, which prohibits non-commercial ads, but even that policy is now the target of a lawsuit by the local AIDS Walk

Nor are strictly commercial ventures free of controversy in this age when chicken sandwich purchases encode positions on gay marriage, some cosmetics are still tested on animals, and teachers unions can bring out crowds of people with nothing better to do than protest a Hollywood movie. A transit authority is not a natural arbiter of such matters, but the real question should be what ad doesn't stand a reasonable chance of provoking a breach of the peace? 

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  1. The only thing I can figure is that the MTA really likes getting sued.

    1. The individual members of the board likely don’t care either way considering none of them will ever pay a penny for any of the many bullshit decisions they will inevitably make. There is no incentive for them to make anything BUT political choices because their positions are afforded legal cover.

  2. And so the vandal got the subway to agree to her terms…brilliant.

    1. A pattern emerges.

      1. Could this be used to somehow advance libertarian causes? I’m pissed off when I see Republicans and Democrats running for office, after the horrific damage they’ve done to this country. Can I get their advertising all banned?

        1. Simply start spray-painting and see what happens.

        2. The catch being that what the vandal wanted was what the subway wanted to do inthe first place, but was ptrevented from by court order. How many libertarian issues fit that criteria?

    2. And so the vandal got the subway to agree to her terms…brilliant.

      Incentives; how the fuck do they work?

  3. I was with you right up until you linked to bullshit propaganda produced by an Animal Rights terrorism cult.

    1. Cool story, bro.

      1. It’s almost as if he utterly doesn’t get it, sage. Imagine that.

        1. Point completely missed. But I’m the one who “doesn’t get it”. ok.

  4. This kind of rule is unlikely to pass muster. First, it’s got to pass strict scrutiny, which I doubt it can do.

    Second, they’ll almost certain discriminate depending on the content or viewpoint expressed. Sooner or later, government always does.

    1. It’s government making decisions; ALL of them are political, all of the time.

  5. Apropos of this incident, I ended up reading a lot of what Mona Eltahawy has written on freedom of speech and women’s rights, a lot of which is centered in Middle Eastern politics.

    I couldn’t find much to disagree with. But watching this incident on video, then reading some segments of her twitter feed, I’m suspicious of Eltahawy’s position on the first amendment.

    She sounds and comes off great if it’s a subject and speech she agrees with, but after that, I’m not sure if (and really, this is what it all comes down to) Mona would have my back.

    And this is where the concept of free speech has become so frustrating in these here Untied States of ‘Murrica.

    As a libertarian, I have Mona’s back. I have a more unqualified view of free speech, not the “creepy Uncle” view that say, Eric Posner has of it.

    But based on Mona’s actions, and her incredulity at the moment of her arrest makes me think that she takes much more nuanced view.

    She felt that spraypainting over someone elses speech was all fair game. I wonder if Mona Eltahawy would share the same view if someone “spraypainted” her website, making it unviewable. Some of her supporters are also woefully confused about speech in which no money changed hands, vs speech where at some point in the hisory of said speech, a financial transaction took place.

    1. That’s the point though, isn’t it?

      She only believes in free speech that agrees with her. I don’t care if she agrees with 100% of what I do, if she thinks it’s justified to literally squelch the speech of a dissenting viewpoint to the point that it is no longer heard, than she doesn’t get it.

      And thus, she is no friend of liberty.

      1. If you don’t think Illinois Nazis should have freedom of speech, you don’t really believe in freedom of speech.

        And I hate Illinois Nazis.

        1. It’s been said, but it bears repeating. No one is trying to ban people from saying “I love sunshine and kittens.” (Well, maybe Episiarch). It’s the controversial, highly political, and potentially objectionable speech that will be banned. Which is exactly why it needs to be free.

          1. SUNSHINE AND KITTENS ARE AGAINST MY RELIGION, WHICH IS THE WORSHIP OF DARKNESS AND HATE AND SACRIFICING TEH KITTAH

            1. U bttr hope Ceiling Cat taks merssee on ur sole

          2. No one is trying to ban people from saying “I love sunshine and kittens.” (Well, maybe Episiarch).

            And Warty, unless you mean using them in greasy lunch fare.

      2. She only believes in free speech that agrees with her.

        So did Uncle Joe.

      3. She only believes in free speech that agrees with her. Well, who doesn’t? Even North Korea believes in “free speech” that agrees with the Dear Leader.

    2. The future does not belong to you, Paul., and that is the real test for progressives, isn’t it?

        1. It does very much sound like the slogan of political party planning to march with their heals digging into the skulls of their detractors.

          1. I was thinking that I’d make my political slogan, “A Great Leap”, then Pro L came up with FORWARD. We could combine the two for a totally new concept.

  6. Is there some difference in this new policy that will prevent it from being struck down by the courts like the previous policy?

    1. No, but the MTA board won’t have to pay for the MTA lawyers that attempt to defend this and fail, the taxpayers and riders will. And the board doesn’t have to deal with annoyances like this until it is struck down again. See? All win. For them.

      1. It’s a great scam, isn’t it? Sometimes I’m just awash in admiration at the chutzpah of these people and the total submission of the voters.

        1. Are you talking about the lawyers, ProL? Because I agree.

  7. What ad doesn’t stand a reasonable chance of provoking a breach of the peace?

    You can make fun of Christians, the Irish, and rednecks.

    1. In my defense, it’s hard not to make fun of the Irish. A compliment will set them off quicker than anything.

      1. Um…I’ve known some Irish people to take jokes their drinking as compliments.

        That’s why I threw them in there.

        The Scottish are sometimes like that, too. That’s why, even in a multicultural society like the one portrayed in the original Star Trek, it was okay to play bagpipes in the background every time Scotty got drunk.

        I don’t know why, but, for whatever reason, it’s acceptable to poke fun at the Irish like that. I’m not saying it should be, but I think that’s the way it is.

        1. Don’t get me wrong, the Irish love to be drenched in insults. Just don’t throw a compliment their way unless you are ready for a fight. It’s the self hate.

          1. Don’t get me wrong, the Irish love to be drenched in

            I see what you did there.

            1. ‘ta fuckr ahl goin on aboaight? shutsa yer hole alreedy and get me dat drink ya baasterd, ta soccer gaymes r on and i’m still fookin sobaar

    2. NYC has been making fun of the Irish since the 1850s.

  8. protest a Hollywood movie.

    https://reason.com/archives/201…..nt_3285005

    Why does this link go to a HazelMeade comment?

    1. Hmmm. Apropos of nothing, I wonder if a comment has ever been cited in a peer-reviewed article?

      1. Maybe the comment is a peer reviewed article!

            1. It’s recursive!

              I’m going to publish a law review article that simply cites itself.

              1. I am the law, because I am the law!

              2. I dare you to do this for real. Put it in a publication that is sent out on April Fool’s Day.

                1. It’s not as fun with law reviews. They’ll publish any dreck. Now something peer reviewed. . .that would be great.

      2. Paul uses “apropos” in an above comment.

        Is that the reason word of the day?

        Are you secretly Paul?

        1. Apropos of nothing, not usually.

        2. Apropos of this, I propose (did you see what I did there) we have a Reason word of the day.

    2. It’s all about Hazel.

  9. Simply attack the political ads of the politicians backing this logic, they will very quickly reverse their faulty thinking on this.

  10. So, according to Mona, speech doesn’t equal money, but it does equal violence?

    Scary.

    1. In mona’s case, I’m guessing it’s the inverse: Money != Speech. Which means that if the speech was paid for (subtracting Mona’s paid speech, of course) that it’s not valid. But of course believing in the first leads to the second that Speech != Money which means that if a body of 5 unelected bureaucrats decide that your speech has specific value, that your Speech = Money, and since Money != Speech, Money can be banned, meaning that we can ban your speech.

      It’s a fantastic bit of circular logic.

  11. That looks like its gonna be fun!

    http://www.AnonData.tk

  12. “The MTA held its vote at a raucous meeting during which opponents of the ad shouted down speakers. ”

    Well, isn’t that a shocker.

    1. Some people just want to be mau-maued so they can look like they were forced into the decision they willingly made.

  13. “New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday voted to prohibit advertisements that it “reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.””

    “Reasonably foresees”? Is there a real presumption that the comment means other than ‘I don’t like it’?

  14. Tangential topic but link to free speech and islam, etc.: For those following this mess more closely, the Charlie Hebdo folks who are publishing some cartoons about mohammed have put up at their web site (www.charliehebdo.fr) a succinct comment on the whole mess, which I attempt to translate:

    Etch a glorious Mohammed, you die.
    Design a funny Mohammed, you die.
    Scribble an ignoble Mohammed, you die.
    Make a shit movie about Mohammed, you die.
    You resist religious terror, you die.
    You lick fundamentalist ass, you die.
    Call an obscurantist a jerk, you die.
    There is nothing to negotiate with fascists.
    Our freedom to laugh without any restraint, which the law already grants us, the systematic violence of extremists also forces upon us.
    Thank you, you gang of fucking jerks.

    Peins un Mahomet glorieux, tu meurs.
    Dessine un Mahomet rigolo, tu meurs.
    Gribouille un Mahomet ignoble, tu meurs.
    R?alise un film de merde sur Mahomet, tu meurs.
    Tu r?sistes ? la terreur religieuse, tu meurs.
    Tu l?ches le cul aux int?gristes, tu meurs.
    Prends un obscurantiste pour un abruti, tu meurs.
    Essaie de d?battre avec un obscurantiste, tu meurs.
    Il n’y a rien ? n?gocier avec les fascistes.
    La libert? de nous marrer sans aucune retenue, la loi nous la donnait d?j?, la violence syst?matique des extr?mistes nous la donne aussi.
    Merci, bande de cons.

    1. My (limited) French says the translation is close enough.
      More power to ’em; fuck stupid bleevers of whatever skydaddy.

      1. There’s no future for you!

        Barry said so.

      2. Just curious, Sevo, but are you saying fuck anybody that believes in a God? Because if so, you are saying fuck a lot of libertarian people, me included.

        That’s a pretty wide net you’re casting, and a pretty inaccurate one, as to many of us, our libertarianism is supported by our religious beliefs.

  15. Egyptian bitch for the score!

  16. So this is how you dump free speech. One bit at a time.

    In the past few weeks we’ve had the government saying things in support of squelching speech in ways I never imagined. Jeez.

  17. Now look what you’ve done. You ruined it for everyone.

  18. One day before the decision, journalist Mona Eltahawy made a partially successful attempt to spraypaint over an ad from a pro-Israel group.

    Thus insuring that an ad, which would have been read by the small number of NY subway riders who pay any attention to said ads, gets national attention.

    Did she get spray paint on her foot?

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