"Islamophobic" Muni Ads Are Back on Buses
Last year Muni came under fire, not only for being perpetually broke and late, but also for trying to plug some of its budget woes with pro-Israeli advertisements that suggested Palestinians were savages.
At the time, Muni, which has a policy against running political ads on its buses, defended its decision, claiming that the ads weren't political. Of course, that statement in itself officially made the issue a topic for political debate in San Francisco.
After a few weeks of (political) bickering and guerrilla-style makeovers of the ads, they were taken down, and people went back to hating Muni only for being late and running over people.
Now, some similarly offensive ads, which includes images of the late Osama bin Laden and the World Trade Center in flames, are making rounds again in San Francisco -- and from what we understand, city officials are not pleased.
In fact, they plan to host a press conference outside City Hall today to denounce Muni's "Islamophobic and racist advertisements" which are being paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The anti-Islam group has paid Muni to run 10 ads on buses for four weeks.
The new ads, which are scheduled to run on Muni buses today, "wrongly suggest that all Muslims are defined by extremism and violence," according to the District Attorney's Office, which is one of the many city departments in opposition to the ads.
Paul Rose, spokesman for Muni, says that the agency doesn't support the content of the new ads, yet isn't about to let itself get sued by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. "We don't believe it's right to use public money to litigate over the FDI's First Amendment rights," Rose said. "As a city agency the MTA's job is to provide safe and reliable transportation to the public."
Rose reiterated that the agency's policy against political ads specifically refers to local elections, including candidates and ballot measures.
Supervisor David Chiu says he will introduce a resolution at tomorrow's board meeting, condemning the anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim advertisements. If passed, the non-binding resolution won't mean anything, except that it will put the Board of Supervisors on record that, while they do support Muni financially, they don't support these ads.
Rose called back to inform us that Muni will be donating the ad revenue to the Human Rights Commission -- all $5,000 of it.