Judge John Koeltl previously ruled that a pro-Israel advocacy group was granted permission to post public advertisement on New York City buses. The phrase “Hamas Killing Jews” was the group’s key phrase that has since caused much uproar. Defending his decision he stated that the ad was previously seen in both San Francisco and Chicago public transit back in 2013 with no harm done. Koeltl expressed that taking away individuals’ freedom of speech and expression would not squash future violent attacks. The Judge stayed the effect for a month so it can be appealed.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Decision:
The lawsuit itself was filed last year by the American Freedom Defense Initiative after the MTA decided to only post three out of four of the group’s ads. The fourth and final one was thought to have too violent of a connotation — “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” In the ad itself a picture of a covered face with the words, “Hamas MTV” was followed by, “That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?”
After the MTA held a recent board meeting which yielded a 9-2 vote, the decision was made to ban all political advertising that’s expressed on public transit in the city. Although this type of advertising brings in money for the city, it only accounts for less than $1 million out of an annual $138 million revenue. Other populated cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia have underwent changes to prevent such advertising from appearing on subways and buses. The authority claims, however, that in the end it will still allow commercial advertising, government messages, and various public service announcements.
As expected, the decision has brought about many conflicting viewpoints. While many of the board members have voted in favor of restricting these advertisements there are still several others that see the issue in a different light. Some say that the general public should not suffer, that it is unlawful to take away their rights to freedom of speech and expression. Others declare that this ruling was made narrow-mindedly. Thomas F. Prendergast, the authority’s chairman, argued that the first and foremost concern of the MTA is to ultimately maintain a safe and functioning transportation system.