Human Rights Commission Praises Muni's Response to Furor Over "Defeat Jihad" Ad
First, the American Freedom Defense Initiative gave Muni $3,800 to plaster the city's buses with an ad that refers to enemies of Israel as subhumans. And while even Muni Board President Tom Nolan says he's offended by the message, the transit agency assures us they won't take the ads down.
Why? Nolan chalks this up to a potential First Amendment issue, going as far as to say that if Muni took down those provocative ads, then the agency would wind up in court -- and that would cost more than Muni earned from the ads. In the first five minutes.
"What could happen here if we take them all down [is] we could be taken to court and [there] would be a big cost associated with that and we could be forced -- I guess like New York, to put them back up anyway," Nolan told CBS news.
By that logic Muni should stop running people over, too. Let's see if that happens.
In a particularly gratuitous compromise, the transit agency decided to donate the $3,800 in question to the city's Human Rights Commission. The HRC claims it will use the money paid by an ad-buyer -- described by both the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group -- to fight the kind of hate and intolerance it's being funded by.
So, on Wednesday the HRC didn't question how Muni managed to entrench itself in such a sordid situation but "praised" the transit agency for its thinly veiled act of kindness:
The San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) is praising the SFMTA which operates MUNI on its efforts in response to public outcry related to offensive ads that have recently appeared on the City's buses. A number of "watchdog organizations" that monitor community relations in San Francisco have called the ad's language inflammatory and clearly an example of hate and intolerance. The SF Human Rights Commission is condemning the offensive ads and notes that this type of messaging has no place in a City known for its long term history of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion.We were confused by this astoundingly mixed message, so we called David Carrington over at the HRC. He assured us the commission's pro-Muni position had nothing to do with the infusion of cash it just received.
"At least they are responding to public outcry," he said. "They're turning this around and donating the money to the HRC so we can create a community and collaborate with the faith-based community to develop an awareness campaign against bigotry and intolerance.
"Hopefully people won't get caught up on the donation of the money, because that money will create an awareness to stamp out the messaging of intolerance."
Nice. You know another way to campaign against bigotry and intolerance? Don't put bigoted, intolerant billboards onto city buses and then extract a payoff from the transit agency to "collaborate" on an "awareness campaign" about how bad that is.
There's a thought.
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