The Episcopal Diocese of New York reports that the bishops of the Diocese have written to the Metropolitan Transit Authority:
Bishops Mark Sisk, Andrew Dietsche and Andrew Smith wrote MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer Jan 14 commending the MTA’s decision “to continue to display non-commercial speech,” but calling on the agency to use the revenues from the latest series of hate-filled anti-Muslim ads, which have been displayed in 240 subway stations, ” …to fund the display of ads such as the NYC Commission on Human Rights ‘From Many Countries, One City’.”
“MTA should not impede the exercise of free speech, but neither should they profit from it when that speech is repugnant,” the Bishops wrote. “The strength of our city derives from the people of many cultures, colors and creeds who call it home.”
Read the full letter below. I am wondering what they would say if the ads were anti-Christian or Jewish? Is this really a free speech issue?
Text of the Bishops’ letter:
January 14, 2013
Mr. Fernando Ferrer, Acting Chairman
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
347 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3739
Dear Chairman Ferrer,
Once again, the citizens of New York City and visitors to our city are subjected to hate-filled ads in our subway stations. Last September, the American Freedom Defense Initiative placed ads labeling Muslims as “savages.” Now a new series of ads posted next to 240 subway station clocks depicts the fall of the Twin Towers alongside a verse from the Quran which speaks of casting “terror into… hearts.” While we commend the MTA’s decision to continue to display non-commercial speech, we also recognize that the best response to speech that vilifies is speech that builds up the community. We are pleased to see that the current ad campaign carries a disclaimer that their display does not imply the MTA’s endorsement of the views expressed in them.
We call on the MTA to do more. We request that all revenues received from these and similar hate-filled ads be used to fund the display of ads such as the NYC Commission on Human Rights “From Many Countries, One City” campaign.
Following last September’s ads, the Episcopal Diocese of New York publicly condemned “any speech or action which denigrates or desecrates any religion or its symbols and sacraments” and proclaimed that “all human beings are holy symbols and creations of God.” The community of our city, which is enhanced by its many cultures, colors and creeds, depends on our public transportation system. MTA should not impede the exercise of free speech, but neither should they profit from it when that speech is repugnant. The strength of our city derives from the people of many cultures, colors and creeds who call it home. MTA would serve us well to counter this hate speech with the message that we are One City.
The Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk
Bishop of New York
The Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche
Bishop Coadjutor of New York
The Right Reverend Andrew D. Smith
Assistant Bishop of New York