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Free Speech Victory in America's Capital
by Andrew E. Harrod
Pursuant to an October 5, 2012 preliminary injunction, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) met a 5 p.m. deadline on the following Monday, October 8, to place four pro-Israel, anti-jihad advertisements in the metro stations of U Street, Georgia Avenue, Takoma Park, and Glenmont. The placement followed an October 4, 2012 hearing in Courtroom Eight of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia concerning WMATA's demand for a delay in posting the political advertisements. Notable from a legal perspective was the shallowness of the arguments proffered against recognized rights of free speech under the United States Constitution's First Amendment.
Under review was an advertisement by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) with the statement: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." As a legal brief ("Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction," hereafter "Plaintiff's Reply") submitted on behalf of AFDI noted, the advertisement paraphrases statements by noted objectivist writer Ayn Rand. Both in 1974 and later on a 1979 episode of Bill Donohue's talk show, Rand compared Israel's Arab enemies to "savages" and, on the Donohue show, discussed Arab use of terrorism against Israeli civilians. One of AFDI's founders, Pamela Geller, named her website "Atlas Shrugs," in honor of Rand. AFDI's advertisement has already survived legal challenges and significant controversy to appear on the public transit systems of New York City and San Francisco.
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