Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz Calls MTA‘s New Advertising Rules ’Plain Dumb’ & ‘Unconstitutional’by Sharona Schwartz, theblaze.com
September 30th 2012 7:23 AM
Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz is slamming new rules New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has adopted in the wake of its legal battle against blogger Pamela Geller and her anti-terrorism ads, calling the MTA move “plain dumb” and unconstitutional.”
On Friday, TheBlaze reported that the MTA changed its guidelines on what advertising it will accept from now on after losing in court to Geller and her group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, thus being forced to display the ads which read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Specifically, the MTA has set a new litmus test for ads and will no longer display those which the MTA “reasonably foresees would incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace, and so harm, disrupt, or interfere with safe, efficient, and orderly transit operations.”
Prof. Alan Dershowitz, a staunch defender of Israel and a political liberal, is calling the new rules bad policy that will have the unintended consequence of encouraging violence. He spoke to the New York Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner:
“A. it’s clearly unconstitutional” he said, and “b. it incentivizes people to engage in violence. What it says to people, is that if they don’t like ads, just engage in violence and then we’ll take the ads down.”
“It’s very bad policy,” he continued, “and it’s just plain dumb, because it is going to encourage violence.”
Dershowitz believes the new rules will only energize those with an axe to grind like Mona Eltahawy, the Egyptian-born activist who was arrested after spray-painting one of Geller’s ads in a subway station.
The Algemeiner writes:
Referencing the incident, Dershowitz said, “what the transit authority is doing, is giving people like Mona, the power to censor.”
Referring to the recent uptick in violence in the Middle East, Dershowitz added, “It is the worst possible approach to dealing with radical Islam.”
“In the age of radical imams whipping up reactions, it just gives them more encouragement to do it. So if somebody wants to put up a picture of Mohammed in the subway, all people have to do is threaten violence and its censorship comes into effect,” he said.
Dershowitz believes the rules should be challenged legally:
“It will be challenged, there is no question about that,” he confirmed, “if the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) doesn’t get into this case immediately, they are going to have to write to me several times for my contribution this year. This is a perfect case for the ACLU, the ACLU should be in there, opposed to the MTA.”
“I would hope the ACLU would get behind the organization that put up the ads even though I’m sure they disagree with the content of the ads, as do I,” he concluded.
The Algemeiner asked the MTA about the constitutionality of its decision. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told the paper the organization believes the new guidelines are “are firmly planted in the bedrock of the constitution, specifically the First Amendment.”
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