Monday, June 01, 2015

WHY BETSY McCAUGHEY IS SIDING WITH A HATEMONGER

Serially dishonest right-wing healthcare propagandist Betsy McCaughey has an op-ed in The New York Times today defending Pam Geller's right to foist hate speech on public transit systems:
Don’t Censor My Commute

SUBWAY platforms and bus shelters have become the newest targets of political correctness.

The mass transit agencies in Washington, New York and Philadelphia have all moved to ban political advertising, in response to the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group known for criticizing Islam.

In Philadelphia, a federal judge in March ordered the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority to accept a bus ad from the group that shows a 1941 meeting of Adolf Hitler and a Palestinian Arab nationalist leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, with the line: “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran.” On Thursday, after the ads came down, the agency banned future advertising “expressing or advocating an opinion, position or viewpoint about economic, political, religious, historical or social issues.”

That same day, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority suspended all “issue-oriented” advertising through the end of the year, after the anti-Islam group tried to place an ad attacking the Prophet Muhammad.

Officials aren’t calling it censorship, though that’s exactly what they’re doing. The wording of the rules the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved in April -- banning political speech, including that aimed at “the action, inaction, prospective action or policies of a governmental entity” -- makes the danger obvious.
Pam Geller is being denied one set of platforms for her message. She's hardly being silenced. She has her blog. She has three books in print. She makes frequent in-person appearances all over America and overseas. She has, as far as I can see, a standing invitation to appear on Fox News at any time. She's not being rendered an unperson and thrown in the gulag.

Here was a recent Geller ad proposal:
'Draw Muhammad' winner submitted for DC ads

The winning cartoon from the “Draw Muhammad” event that led to a shooting in Texas earlier this month has been submitted to run as an advertisement on Washington, D.C., public transportation.

Pamela Geller, the president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) wrote on Breitbart.com that she has submitted the cartoon as an ad to run on Metro buses, as well as at the Foggy Bottom, Capitol South, Bethesda, L’Enfant Plaza and Shady Grove Metro stations.
Look, I agree that Americans have the legal right to draw Muhammad cartoons. In principle, Americans should not be deprived of that right by those who would intimidate them.

The reality is that there a number of people are likely to react angrily, and quite possibly violently, to public displays of Muhammad cartoons, especially from those who've made no secret of hating Islam. Our government should be able to prevent harm to the public in these cases -- but it can't. And don't kid yourself: I don't care how macho your favorite Republican presidential candidate is, he or she won't be able to ensure your safety in this situation either. This is an ongoing struggle -- it won't resolve itself for a while.

Under these circumstances, do we want Pam Geller to paint targets on D.C. commuters? Does she get to volunteer them for that? If there's a reasonable policy change that still leaves Geller free to write and speak, I favor it.

(And if Betsy McCaughey wants such ads on trains and buses, I'd like to ask her: If you knew that a Muhammad cartoon posted by Pam Geller's organization were on the vehicle you took to and from work every day, would you personally continue commuting that way? Or would you try to find alternate means of transportation?)

McCaughey backs Geller in this op-ed -- and her reasons aren't hard to grasp:
These policies amount to a status-quo protection plan, allowing political speech by the government while denying everyone else the right to protest. For example, New York State would be permitted to run ads claiming that the state is business-friendly, but an individual or group could be blocked from placing ads claiming that state taxes are too high.
Well, there you are. Wingnut-welfare recipient McCaughey wants public transit systems to remain open to anti-government propaganda from the sorts of deep-pocketed right-wingers who've often employed her.

I understand her point (and, clearly, this would also permit political ads I'd agree with on public transit) -- but I see no harm in excluding all political transit ads if it's done without playing favorites. In fact, I'd be happy to see a public-transit ban on the sort of pro-government propaganda McCaughey describes. Such messages can be (and certainly are) delivered via many other outlets, as are the messages of the sorts of people McCaughey has worked for.

Of course, when McCaughey writes this, I can't help thinking that she'd use the term "political speech by the government" to describe ads encouraging commuters to sign up their kids for school breakfast programs -- or encouraging them to sign up their families for insurance coverage on the state or federal healthcare exchange.

If the restrictions on the Geller ads are upheld by the courts, I can imagine that McCaughey and her allies might want to litigate against ads merely noting the availability of existing government programs. And giving the current courts, I imagine such a case could easily succeed.

47 comments:

Pops said...

I wrote the almost exact same content as your article to the NY Times in comment section of Betsy's article. They usually publish my comments but not to this one. After seeing Betsey run off the Daily Show set and reading her lies in WSJ on ACA where is her credibility? What's next in the Times "Ann Coulter on Fixing Immigration" or Peggy Noonan/Bill Kristol on "What we get wrong about Reagan"???

Uncle Bob said...

Translation: "We need to enact this blasphemy law because...think of the children!"

Pam Geller is an ugly person, but that doesn't magically make this something other than complying with blasphemy restrictions via the hecklers veto (or more accurately, the assassins veto).

Victor said...

We get it, Pam, you hate the EEEEEBIL MOOOOOOOZLUMS.

Most of us don't give a crap because 99%+ of them are peaceful. But you're going to agitate some of them into action.
And that's clearly exactly what you want.
It worked for you in TX.
It got you more attention.

And yet somehow, you managed not to be within firing range.
Pity...
Not that I'd want her killed. I don't want anyone to be killed. I would just want her frightened enough to stop with all of her nonsense.
But that won't happen.
She thinks she's in a Holy War.

I'm sick of all of our Reich-Wing haters.

Steve M. said...

You're right, Uncle Bob. But the alternative is volunteering commuters to resist that veto with their lives.

I lived through busing in Boston. If a driver back then with a bunch of black children on board took a detour to avoid a rock-throwing white mob, wasn't that "giving in to terrorism"? But if you've lost the ability to contain such mobs, what's the alternative? Drive the kids through the mob, putting their lives at risk, without their assent or their parents', for principle?

Steve M. said...

I'm also in favor of just bailing on your adopt-a-highway program if it means letting the Klan buy a stretch of roadway, so I guess I really am a fascist.

theHatist said...

Well, I hate to agree with this odious turd, but Geller should have the same access to these platforms as anyone else.

The answer to hate speech is more speech, not censorship.

So, when she posts something that says “Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran", the correct thing to do is not to censor this, but rather to also run an ad that says things like:

"Slavery: It's in the Torah/Old Testament- Lev. 25:44"
"Sell your daughter into slavery: The Torah/Old Testament says it's AOK! Exodus 21:7"
"Kill your neighbor when he doesn't follow your strict religious laws! Exodus 35:2"

I mean, it's pretty easy pickings.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Surrender is so much safer, eh?

Steve M. said...

So why aren't you wearing a Muhammad cartoon T-shirt right now? Do you even own one?

theHatist said...

Not sure, but it does seem like both comments are directed at me...

"Surrender is so much safer, eh?"

I don't know what this means, but if you think defending free speech is the same as surrender, shouldn't you be reading Breitbart, or some other pro-fascism blog?

"So why aren't you wearing a Muhammad cartoon T-shirt right now? Do you even own one?"

Just because I defend an Islamophobe's right to free speech doesn't make me an Islamophobe. Glenn Greenwald defending the Klan's right to free speech doesn't make him a Nazi asshole. I have to say I am shocked that I'm getting pushback on this, since it is the position of every enlightened person on Earth.

So, no, I don't a t-shirt that says I am a gigantic asshole. I do have one that supports Chelsea Manning, free speech, the ACLU, and Wikileaks, though.

theHatist said...
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theHatist said...

Perhaps you didn't get the part where I was poking holes in Gellar's argument (by pointing out that christianity and judaism's central texts are just as barbaric as anything you find in Islam) rather than censoring it.

Steve M. said...

I am shocked that I'm getting pushback on this, since it is the position of every enlightened person on Earth.

It's not the position of every enlightened person on Earth. Many otherwise liberal, tolerant countries have hate-speech laws. America's approach to speech is very tolerant by global standards.

theHatist said...

And those laws are usually tied to racism, islamophobia, theocracy, or some other form of prejudice.

People like Gellar are the kind that ban free speech.

Steve M. said...

I support Geller's right to speak and publish. I don't accept her absolute right to hijack a commonly held transit system in order to potentially turn commuters who have no choice in the matter into human shields in her private war against Islamicists. Ordinary citizens didn't volunteer for that.

Hatist, I think you come from a fairly exalted world where abstract principles prevail. You make pronouncements this from a very safe position in life. I grew up working-class. The average schmuck doesn't deserve this.

Rand Careaga said...

One wonders whether McCaughey (or Geller) would (wo)man the ramparts of Freedom of Speech should some wackaloon from the Christian Identity pay for bus banners bearing some extravagantly anti-semitic messages (sic your favorite search engine on "anti-semitic websites" if you must, or just use your imagination, even though it won't be quite equal to some of the depths plumbed therein).

As to Geller, in the (only remotely possible, it is devoutly to be hoped) event that one of her Metro buses draws an RPG, I could see her in a flight suit with a "Mission Accomplished" banner behind her.

The center did not hold. I don't know whether the eventual insurrection will originate with the Occupy crowd or with the Tea Party brownshirts, but of the numerous plausible outcomes, not a single one is palatable.

Aunt Snow said...

Geller should have the same access to these platforms as anyone else.

By doing what they did, the transit agencies assured that. No one has access to it now, not Geller, not anyone else. That's not discriminatory.

It's a classic example of "Why we can't have nice things." People should exercise civic responsibility regarding public speak. Geller is irresponsible; therefore we all lose access.

Yastreblyansky said...

I can't understand this at all. This isn't free public speech, it's paid advertising. Broadcast media and print media can and do reject hate speech ads, why can't subways?

I'm not even thinking of the possibility of violence, I'm thinking of kids. Exposing them to Pam Geller in the train is like exposing them to explicit bondage pornography, it shouldn't happen, and I can't believe the Constitution requires it. Also the millions of American and US-resident Muslims who have no intention of reacting violently but do not deserve to be assaulted with this on their commute, of course. We can't and I wouldn't wish to stop Geller emulating the Westboro Baptists on her own time, but MTA shouldn't be dragged into it--it's a business, not a forum.

petrilli said...

It would be naive to see Geller's agenda as one of free speech. If that's what she's about, why did she work so hard to have Debbie Almontaser fired a few years back.
Almontaser was the Arab American principal from Kahlil Gibrahn high school who was railroaded over a stupid t-shirt.

petrilli said...

Betsy McCaughey. Beneath contempt. "A spent piece of used jet trash"

theHatist said...

"Hatist, I think you come from a fairly exalted world where abstract principles prevail. You make pronouncements this from a very safe position in life. I grew up working-class. The average schmuck doesn't deserve this."

There is so much that is disappointing about this paragraph:

1) an ad hominem attack on my perceived position of privilege, which has nothing to do with anything at all (were it to exist).
2) that if I was blue collar, I would understand things I do not now.
3) that speech is dangerous, and the little people should be protected from the free exchange of ideas.

I believe that whole "in the real world, there just isn't always room for civil liberties" argument is very popular with the police these days.

Ken_L said...

The public transport system doesn't exist to promote a free exchange of political ideas. It's there to give people as safe, reliable and comfortable a means of getting around the city as can be done for the price. Part of that involves protecting patrons from the risk of violence, property damage or general civil disorder to the extent those things can reasonably be anticipated and prevented.

Allowing inflammatory ads - any inflammatory ads - would be a breach of the mass transit system's duty of care to its customers. If McCaughey wants to help Geller, let her put the ads on her car.

theHatist said...

"Allowing inflammatory ads - any inflammatory ads - would be a breach of the mass transit system's duty of care to its customers."

It troubles me that you seem to be setting yourself up as a censor for the good of the common people. Again, the same "caring" attitude seems to have been shared through the years by the NSA, the Catholic Church, and just about every powerful organization whose existence would be damaged by the facts.

petrilli said...

Problem is that in the marketplace of ideas, the ground is never level. Gellar represents a radical Zionist viewpoint that is ascendant in the US and predominant here in NYC. Her messages will get through. Opposing messages will not, whether it's through transit ads or cable news. It's why everyone remembers the '72 Munich attacks and no one remembers Deir Yassin. Why should she get to put up subway ads if others get censored? For now, I'd rather keep the trains boring and safe with Dr. Zizmore

Regular GeoX said...

So would people who are defending these ads also be okay with neo-nazi groups getting subways plastered with swastikas? If not, shut the fuck up. If so: you DO realize you're a crazy asshole, right? Albeit a consistent crazy asshole?

theHatist said...

"So would people who are defending these ads also be okay with neo-nazi groups getting subways plastered with swastikas? If not, shut the fuck up. If so: you DO realize you're a crazy asshole, right? Albeit a consistent crazy asshole?"

How incredibly juvenile. Naughty teen tone aside, who do you propose decides what people are and are not allowed to say?

I prefer to live in a free society, where there is no censorship, no matter how much I dislike what is being said. There are several totalitarian states out there; perhaps you'd be able to find a nice career there telling people what ideas they are allowed to express.

Not that you don't have plenty of good company here: Obama is doing his best to prosecute any whistleblower or journalist who exposes criminal activity committed by our government, violating its own laws. Mike Huckaby would no doubt like to start censoring anything that would be critical of evangelical christianity- he's already off to a nice start burying police reports that showed pedophia in the Duggar home. Bush would no doubt like to suppress reports on how he and the Republicans cooked up a case to invade Iraq, how they lost a few billion dollars in cash, how torture has never, ever, not once produced actionable intelligence that hadn't been previously obtained by legal and moral means.

You might also look back in time to find inspiration from the Catholic Church trying to stop Galileo from showing the Earth moved around the sun.

Ken_L said...

Hatist you make the common mistake of arguing that any limitations on speech constitute censorship. It's overwrought nonsense. One of the reasons human beings are able to live together in reasonable harmony is that we voluntarily limit what we say all the time. Perhaps you still call people niggers and fags and bitches, or have no objection when other people do it; and perhaps you'd have no objection to porn being used in mass transit system ads. But most people do object to these things, and most of us agree that they ought not to be done because they do cause offence. Not "can't" be done - shouldn't. To yell "censorship" in response is either dishonest or irrational, to be blunt.

In the case of inflammatory ads, the duty of care of the mass transit authorities is clear: it must not do anything which a reasonable person would think poses a risk of harm to customers and the general public. That's a legal principle, not an ideological statement. And as for your "Who decides?" question, the mass transit authority's management does of course, after considering the potential risks. It's one of the responsibilities they get paid for.

theHatist said...

I think Rick Scott's adminstration has a position for you. They have banned the phrases "global warming" and "climate change" because they find them offensive.

Like I said, I prefer to live in a free society, even though it means I will run into speech I find objectionable.

Regular GeoX said...

How incredibly juvenile. Naughty teen tone aside, who do you propose decides what people are and are not allowed to say?

So, just to clarify, you would be cool with Neo-Nazis plastering subways with swastikas? In a predominantly Jewish area? Just trying to get clarification. Have you ever considered that maybe exploding in rage and accusing people who don't think public transportation--public transportation!--should be used for hate speech of being totalitarians bespeaks a certain, let's say, lack of perspective?

(Also, "naughty teen tone?" Seriously?)

theHatist said...

"So, just to clarify, you would be cool with Neo-Nazis plastering subways with swastikas?"

Should Neo-Nazis be able to have access to the same advertising platforms that everyone has? Yes. Am I cool with it? No.

However, the whole point of free speech is that the government can not determine what is, and what is not, permissible. See also American heroes Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. That is what happens when the government is able to bar free speech- the powerful hunt down those that would challenge their hegemony.

Also, implicit in your need to protect people from uncomfortable or unpleasant thoughts kind of sets you up as thinking you are superior to the little people and you need to use your wisdom to protect them from things that would upset their tender little minds. Its chauvinism.

"In a predominantly Jewish area?"

You don't think Jews can take it? It's a good thing they have someone like you in order to choose what they can and can't see.

"Just trying to get clarification."

I would have thought this would have been taught to you in your middle school civics class and would require no clarification.

"Have you ever considered that maybe exploding in rage and accusing people who don't think public transportation--public transportation!--should be used for hate speech of being totalitarians bespeaks a certain, let's say, lack of perspective?"

I think Manning, Snowden, Drake, Kiriakou, Hammond, Sterling, Binney, Risen, Rosen, etc etc would probably appreciate my perspective.

"(Also, "naughty teen tone?" Seriously?)"

I'm particularly amused that you think it's fine for you to use the words "nigger" and "fag" in a public forum, on the internet, where any child can go, and use such offensive language. Heavens. I'm scandalized.

Regular GeoX said...

Yes, I'm sure Snowden et al would very much appreciate your bizarre "free speech" fantasy-land where all subway cars are plastered with hate speech, bomb-making instructions, hardcore pornography, &c. See, this is what HAPPENS when you have a strange misapprehension of what free speech entails and when it's pointed out to you what nonsense it is, you refuse to modify it but instead double down. You end up looking like a raving lunatic.

theHatist said...

You really have a way with straw men.

Regular GeoX said...

Yeah, if I were you, *I* wouldn't want to follow my arguments to their logical conclusions, either. So in that sense, I sympathize.

theHatist said...

You mean you Mike Huckabee non-logic logic? "If we allow gay marriage, what's next? Polygamy? People marrying their pets?"

What you say:

"If let all people have the same rights to purchase ad space, what's next? Hard core porn in the subways! Neo Nazi messages as far as the eye can see!

"I must choose what people can and can not see, because only I have the wisdom to tell people what is and what is not acceptable!

"It is impossible to believe that everyone could have the same right to purchase ad space and still adhere to the same laws that we do now!"

Regular GeoX said...

"I must choose what people can and can not see, because only I have the wisdom to tell people what is and what is not acceptable!"

Indeed. It is UNACCEPTABLE that people should silence Geller and not let her have her shitty blog or appear on Fox News ad nauseum or publish her horrible books or have her awful protests. And I UNEQUIVOCALLY CONDEMN all the imaginary people who have done that very thing right here in this thread.

theHatist said...

Who was talking about blogs or Fox News? I like how you keep moving those goal posts to justify you inflicting your sensibilities on the rest of us.

Should everyone have equal access to express their political beliefs, regardless of how objectionable they are, so long as they do not break any laws doing so?

Enlightened people say yes.

Fascists say no.

I don't see any reason to keep arguing in circles any more. I also know you won't rest until you have the last word, so have free reign to call me any names you like, throw out some more straw men, and indulge yourself with another slippery slope argument.

Pretty sure any food for thought has been eaten here.

Ken_L said...

Any potential for constructive dialogue disappeared as soon as you started dealing in false dichotomies and making the usual drama queen exaggerations typical of extremist ideologues.

Regular GeoX said...

I also know you won't rest until you have the last word, so have free reign to call me any names you like, throw out some more straw men, and indulge yourself with another slippery slope argument.

Okay. I think you have the mentality of a belligerent thirteen-year-old who has only thought about these issues in the most shallow way and cares much more about getting off on his own sense of self-righteousness than he ever has about free speech.

Good enough?

theHatist said...

"Okay. I think you have the mentality of a belligerent thirteen-year-old who has only thought about these issues in the most shallow way and cares much more about getting off on his own sense of self-righteousness than he ever has about free speech.

Good enough?"

Exactly what I suspected. Like I said before, naughty teenager: the entire content of your above post is an ad hominem attack. Again.

However...

"Any potential for constructive dialogue disappeared as soon as you started dealing in false dichotomies and making the usual drama queen exaggerations typical of extremist ideologues."

I'm pretty sure my tone has been unfailingly polite as one could be, considering the barrage of childish person attacks.

Please list a false dichotomy or two. And I'd love to hear what is so extreme about my position. Do you think the ACLU is a terrorist organization? Because my views are right in line with theirs.

Ken_L said...

"Enlightened people say yes.

Fascists say no."

Thoughtful, evidence-based, honest argumentation.

You should have quit when you said you would.

theHatist said...
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theHatist said...
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theHatist said...

Nice of you to latch onto something so totally trivial, and a failed attempt (or so it seems, anyway) at making light of the conversation.

Curious though:

Are you saying that enlightened people DON'T think that everyone should have equal access to express their political beliefs, regardless of how objectionable they are, so long as they do not break any laws doing so?

Or are you saying fascists DO think that everyone should have equal access to express their political beliefs, regardless of how objectionable they are, so long as they do not break any laws doing so?

Regular GeoX said...

Nobody could have predicted that you wouldn't have the self-discipline to actually go through with your flounce.

theHatist said...

Look out, the naughty teen is back!

On one hand you have someone defending the civil liberties of someone he can't stand. On the other you have someone whose posts consist of personal attacks, childish insults, and an occasional completely unsupported slippery slope arguments.

If you go back and read your comments, is there anything there, other than "hur hur, yr stoopit! If we don't censor political speech there will be hardcore porn in the subways! Hur hur, yr stoopit!"

Regular GeoX said...

Just can't stop, can you? So much for your high'n'mighty "okay then, HAVE the last word! I'm FAR too mature for this!" pose.

(And seriously, dude, this is NO JOKE: obviously, you CAN use "naughty teen" if you like--free speech and all!--but it makes you sound really weird. I can't say I recommend it.)

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