"Miami-Dade Transit to Remove 'Offensive' [Anti-Islam] Bus Ads"
rs at robertsheridan.com
Mon Apr 19 14:37:19 PDT 2010
This line, from the item below, causes pause:
"The ads, which went up Tuesday, said "Fatwa on your head? Is your
community or family threatening you?'' and directed Muslims to a website
encouraging them to leave Islam."
Haven't there been cases, or at least instances, relating to the subject
of abortion, where the speech (an ad) in question invites inquirers to
call or see counselors who then seek to persuade them to carry the
pregnancy to term? Hasn't this been objected to as misleading?
Is the primary problem here the teaser questions designed to attract
attention, or the unstated purpose of the ad, to direct Muslim viewers
to a website encouraging them to give up their religion? Or the order to
pull the ad? It seems a kind of bait but not necessarily something that
can be called a switch. Those who believe it improper to persuade away
from the faith are likely to find this practice offensive as an
interference with their religion, perhaps their free exercise thereof,
with state assistance (the municipal buses).
I'm having trouble seeing the statements in the ads themselves as being
unprotected which means that I'm having trouble seeing an order to take
down the statements as justified. I'd make an exception if there were a
requirement to post a fair-warning notice on ads that direct someone to
call a number for certain kinds of advice or counseling.
Would it be a FA problem to require such ads (on public property) to
state who posts the ad such that the viewer could decide, as in
political ads, who paid for it ("I'm politician so-and-so and I stand by
this message.") and what viewpoint is being promoted? To avoid what
might seem a material misrepresentation by omission?
Suppose an ad asked "Feeling pain?" and directed the caller to what
turns out to be a medical marijuana clinic that urges the caller to come
in and try and buy product? Wouldn't one likely see a legislative
reaction requiring fair disclosure in advertising as to what you're
going to be met when calling?
Assuming that the political-ad disclosure rules are constitutional, then
why wouldn't a similar disclosure requirement be permitted in other
areas in the interest of not misleading the viewer? Doesn't the FCC
review ads for misleading statements or omissions?
Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> Any thoughts on this story, at
> I sympathize with Miami-Dade Transit’s desire to exclude ads that
> offend prospective passengers. But I wonder whether the exclusion of
> ads that are “offensive” because of their viewpoint is consistent with
> the view that ad space on government-run buses is a nonpublic forum (a
> rule that seems to have emerged from /Lehman v. City of Shaker
> Heights/) and that restrictions on speech in nonpublic fora should be
> viewpoint-neutral. (I can’t find the precise policy, if any, that
> Miami-Dade is applying, but it sounds like it removed the ad because
> it was seen as offensive, not because there’s a viewpoint-neutral
> policy barring, for instance, all ads except commercial advertising.)
> For a glimpse of the ad, see
> . Here’s the story from the /Herald/:
> Miami-Dade Transit is pulling advertisements from 10 buses that South
> Florida Muslims have said are offensive to Islam.
> The ads, which went up Tuesday, said "Fatwa on your head? Is your
> community or family threatening you?'' and directed Muslims to a
> website encouraging them to leave Islam.
> Robert Spencer, associate director of New York-based Stop the
> Islamization of America, which purchased the ads for one-month as the
> first leg of a national campaign, said they were "offered in defense
> of religious liberty.''
> But on Thursday, Miami-Dade Transit spokeswoman Karla Damian said that
> after reviewing the ads, the department decided they "may be offensive
> to Islam'' and would remove them before the buses ran on Friday.
> Damian said the ads were able to initially go up because Miami-Dade
> Transit has an outside company sell ad space and does not routinely
> review ads before they run.
> The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
> had critiqued the ads as promoting ``bigotry'' and making false
> statements about Islam.
> "Islam guarantees freedom to and freedom from religion. . . . [We]
> reject as un-Islamic any extremist interpretation that sanctions the
> killing of any individual because she decided to `leave Islam,'' said
> director Muhammed Malik.
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