The ads said, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” thereby referring to jihadists as savages. However, a 1997 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) rule banning demeaning language in ads constitutes a violation of free speech because it discriminates against advertisers based on the content of their message, according to Engelmayer.
“By differentiating between which people or groups can and cannot be demeaned on the exterior of a city bus, MTA’s no-demeaning standard ... discriminates based on content,” the judge’s opinion said.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative had sued the MTA because the agency rejected its proposed ad. Pamela Geller, the group’s executive director, said banning a pro-Israel ad “was clearly a politically correct, politically motivated denial of free speech.”