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ACLU does something right

As political lobbies go, the ACLU is infuriating because they are so often wrong, left-oriented and Social Justice Warrior-ish. For example, they defend racial preferences (also known as racism) in college admissions. But on rare occasions, they will get something incredibly right.

In this instance, the ACLU challenges advertising restrictions in our nation’s capital from DC Metro:

The ACLU, ACLU of D.C., and ACLU of Virginia are teaming up to represent a diverse group of plaintiffs whose ads were all branded as too hot for transit: the ACLU itself; Carafem, a health care network that specializes in getting women access to birth control and medication abortion; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); and Milo Worldwide LLC — the corporate entity of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

To put it mildly, these plaintiffs have nothing in common politically. But together, they powerfully illustrate the indivisibility of the First Amendment. Our free speech rights rise and fall together — whether left, right, pro-choice, anti-choice, vegan, carnivore, or none of the above…

Let’s start with the ACLU. Earlier this year…the ACLU decided to remind everyone about that very first promise in the Bill of Rights: that Congress shall make no law interfering with our freedoms of speech and religion. As part of a broad advertising campaign, the ACLU erected ads in numerous places, featuring the text of the First Amendment. Not only in English, but in Spanish and Arabic, too — to remind people that the Constitution is for everyone.

ACLU intended their First Amendment campaign stupidly as an anti-Trump thing; but the ads themselves merely stated the text of the First Amendment, which people on the Left definitely need to be reminded of. Beautiful! But then:

Our ad was rejected because WMATA’s advertising policies forbid, among many other things, advertisements “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions” or “intended to influence public policy.”

Get it? The wise authorities at DC Metro refuse to let the First Amendment be posted on their trains. The mere text of the First Amendment! As to the Milo aspect:

Milo Worldwide submitted ads that displayed only Mr. Yiannopoulos’s face, an invitation to pre-order his new book, “Dangerous,” and one of four short quotations from different publications: “The most hated man on the Internet” from The Nation; “The ultimate troll” from Fusion; “The Kanye West of Journalism” from Red Alert Politics; and “Internet Supervillain” from Out Magazine…the ads themselves were innocuous, and self-evidently not an attempt to influence any opinion other than which book to buy.

WMATA appeared to be okay with that. It accepted the ads and displayed them in Metro stations and subway cars — until riders began to complain about Mr. Yiannopoulos being allowed to advertise his book. Just 10 days after the ads went up, WMATA directed its agents to take them all down…

The ideas espoused by each of these four plaintiffs are anathema to someone — as is pretty much every human idea. By rejecting these ads and accepting ads from gambling casinos, military contractors, and internet sex apps, WMATA showed just how subjective its ban is. Even more frightening, however, WMATA’s policy is an attempt to silence anyone who tries to make you think.

Bingo.

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4 Comments

  1. I know that radio and TV stations that play ads are legally required to run political ads with which they disagree; I’ve heard radio stations run intros before ads during elections seasons saying that they do not agree with the content of the ad but are required to run them.

    If these private entities can be required to run them, what is the justification of a public entity refusing to run them? It wounds to me like they could get hoisted on the liberal petard of doing something you disagree with.

    Comment by Jonathan — August 10, 2017 @ 4:16 pm - August 10, 2017

  2. And yet, they can’t help but get a couple left-wing digs in anyway.

    Comment by karen — August 10, 2017 @ 5:49 pm - August 10, 2017

  3. If these private entities can be required to run them, what is the justification of a public entity refusing to run them? It wounds to me like they could get hoisted on the liberal petard of doing something you disagree with.

    WMATA is attempting to do several things. One, hoping to avoid the controversy which enveloped around Pamela Geller’s transport advertising with MTA in New York, which was quite stunning, even for in-your-face New York City. Secondly, they are too lazy to come up with advertising guidelines which respect the First Amendment and yet get the point across that they don’t necessarily endorse whatever is being promoted. So they just ban what they don’t like. Remember, this is the same entity which has at least one escalator out of service in 20% or more of their stations at any given time. They are so mismanaged that it’s a wonder the trains & buses even run at all.

    On a related aspect, when I was in Chicago in late June, early July, I saw promotional advertisements for Milo’s then-upcoming book in the CTA train stations, including in ultra-liberal downtown Chicago, as well as the ‘burbs. I was amused and gratified that none of the ones I saw were defaced and seemed to be evenly distributed. The only thing I found disturbing was the choice of graphically-enhanced photo which was used. It made him look like he had just come out of an enhanced interrogation session. They could have used a cuter photo, particularly for the stations around Boystown.

    Comment by RSG — August 10, 2017 @ 6:29 pm - August 10, 2017

  4. “Remember, this is the same entity which has at least one escalator out of service in 20% or more of their stations at any given time. They are so mismanaged that it’s a wonder the trains & buses even run at all.”

    lol, didn’t know that.

    There you go!

    You actually don’t even need to leave NYC for Paris to feel like a post-1960s european!

    “Progress” struck again!

    Comment by Cyril — August 10, 2017 @ 8:36 pm - August 10, 2017

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