Pamela Geller has a good account of our free speech hearing yesterday, regarding our lawsuit against the New York City MTA for refusing our pro-Israel ad. An excerpt:
[MTA director of real estate Jeffrey Rosen] almost irreconcilable thinking gave even the most astute among us great pause. Even the judge seemed astounded when he admitted that ads saying “Southerners are bigots” or “Blondes are brain-dead” would be acceptable, but ours was “demeaning.” Which it was not. Mr. Rosen went on to admit that in the past fifteen years, the MTA had never before rejected an ad based on its being “demeaning”: ours was the first. What I found contradictory was that Rosen admitted that he would run an ad saying “Support Israel, defeat jihad,” but somehow it was not OK to run it with the tagline, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” How can that be reconciled with his claim that the ad was insulting to a religious group — Muslims — based on his understanding of the word “jihad” as a religious concept that had nothing to do with violence and terrorism? And how does he further reconcile his claim that the ad was demeaning to a nationality (“Palestine,” which doesn’t even exist) with his position that the anti-Israel ad was not demeaning to a nationality (Israel, which really does exist)?
The issue is viewpoint censorship versus content censorship. And of course it’s all ridiculous because not only did Rosen (who is a lawyer) agree, but both lawyers for the defense agreed that our ad was political speech, which is the most protected class of speech under the First Amendment.
Needless to say, our crack world-historical legal team, David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise, was brilliant. Yerushalmi was relentless and caught Rosen in numerous self-contradictions, leaps of logic, and inconsistencies. Muise made a ringing summation, explaining the case’s First Amendment significance. In a just world, this would be an open-and-shut case. Muise made the point that pro-choice ads that the MTA ran, that demeaned women and pro-life advocates (based on religious beliefs), were deeply offensive to him as a Catholic. So clearly the MTA is being selective in which religion can or cannot be offended. Is that the MTA’s position — that homicide bombers, the targeting of innocent civilians, and violent Jew-hatred are sacrosanct and cannot be criticized?