1st Amendment Takes Second Place to Threats of Violence
The New York Mass Transit Authority, by an 8 - 0 vote, has decided that Free Speech does not apply when a Muslim might be offended.
A set of so-called "provocative" adds calling out Muslims as "savages" had been the targets of vandalism. The same forces defacing posters representing speech with which they disagreed denounced the MTA (despite the fact it was a privately purchased advertisement) and called for the silencing of their opposition by removal of the add. Just like Sir Robin, the MTA bravely turned and fled.
Important to note in this, the MTA had already rejected the ads once. They called them "demeaning." I suppose accuracy can be demeaning when your religion is as savage as Islam. They only acquiesced when a Federal Court forced them to do so, citing the First Amendment.
Once the ads went up, various pro-Islam (or, more likely, anti-Semitic) actors began defacing the ads and calling for their removal. So the MTA decided they could limit speech that it "reasonably foresees would imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace."
Why is it that I think that this will only apply to something that criticizes Islam? Oh, that's right, because it's only Muslims who burst into flames when their religion is "mocked." This is a direct violation of the 1st Amendment, and I hope the American Freedom Defense Initiative (who sponsored the ads) take it back to court. They are attempting to impart to a graphical ad the same power to cause imminent harm as yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater.
This his horribly offensive. It is passing an anti-blasphemy law in everything but name, and there is little doubt that the only religion sheltered by it will be that of 12th century savages living in the modern day. An advertisement calling someone a bad name is not responsible for people reacting violently. The people who react violently are responsible for people reacting violently. It is not the fault of the ad that people deface it; it is the fault of the people who deface it.
But the NY MTA would rather force you to shut up, than expect them to behave themselves.