The same crowd that's demanding the government stop a mosque from opening near Ground Zero is praising the government for not interfering when it comes to their anti-mosque bus ads. On Tuesday night the MTA reversed itself to avoid a costly lawsuit brought by the group that wants to run the ads, agreeing to let them appear on MTA buses. A lawyer representing the group, Robert J. Muise, called it a victory for the Constitution, telling the Times, "It’s a problem when the government picks and chooses which messages they think are suitable." Exactly—that's the right wing demagogues' job!
The Times article looks back at some of the controversial ads that have challenged the MTA's guidelines, which prohibit any advertising considered obscene, deceptive or "directly adverse to the commercial or administrative interests of the M.T.A." These include ads mocking then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1997, an ad comparing the morning commute to a cattle car, a Georgi Vodka ad featuring a bikini-bottom that offended Hasidim, and a Working Families Party ad that mimicked an MTA service advisory. The first two ads ran after the MTA caved in the face of lawsuits, and the Georgi Vodka ad was pulled from some bus routes. Other controversial ads include the anti-Islam ad, the Bahamas ad, the atheism ad and the Jews for Jesus ads.
The Working Families Party ad never ran, but the WFP's battle with the MTA over the ad got a lot of press, and a spokesman for WFP tells the Times, "We decided to leave it at getting the ad out there online." Indeed, MTA flack Jeremy Soffin says, "You have people who are purposely trying to be provocative, and sometimes, frankly, more interested in the publicity that comes with the conflict, as opposed to the benefit of actually running the ad." But what's the benefit of buying an ad when you can get the publicity milk for free?