NewYorkTimes: Free Speech vs. Hate Speech

There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.

But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.

That distinction is critical because the conflicts that have erupted over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, most notably the massacre of staff members at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in January by two Muslim brothers, have generated a furious and often confused debate about free speech versus hate speech. The current dispute at the American chapter of the PEN literary organization over its selection of Charlie Hebdo for a freedom of expression courage award is a case in point — hundreds of PEN’s members have opposed the selection for “valorizing selectively offensive material.”

 

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Pamela Geller Credit Mike Stone/Reuters

 

Charlie Hebdo is a publication whose stock in trade has always been graphic satires of politicians and religions, whether Catholic, Jewish or Muslim. By contrast, Pamela Geller, the anti-Islam campaigner behind the Texas event, has a long history of declarations and actions motivated purely by hatred for Muslims.

Whether fighting against a planned mosque near ground zero, posting to her venomous blog Atlas Shrugs or organizing the event in Garland, Ms. Geller revels in assailing Islam in terms reminiscent of virulent racism or anti-Semitism. She achieved her provocative goal in Garland — the event was attacked by two Muslims who were shot to death by a traffic officer before they killed anyone.

Those two men were would-be murderers. But their thwarted attack, or the murderous rampage of the Charlie Hebdo killers, or even the greater threat posed by the barbaric killers of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, cannot justify blatantly Islamophobic provocations like the Garland event. These can serve only to exacerbate tensions and to give extremists more fuel.

Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism. As for the Garland event, to pretend that it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.

Deacon Robert Spencer And Pamela Geller To Host Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders is on his way to the US again, this time at the invitation of two US congressmen. He will also be awarding a prize at Pamela Geller and Deacon Robert Spencer’s “Draw Muhammad” contest in Texas. (h/t: WaltervanderCruijsen)

GeertWilders.nl

On Wednesday April 29th, he will speak at a reception offered to him by Congressman Louie Gohmert (R, TX).

That same day, he speaks at the invitation of Congressman Steve King (R, IA) at the breakfast meeting of members of the US Congress belonging to the renowned Conservative Opportunity Society, a group founded in 1984 by Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Wilders: “I feel deeply honored by the invitations. In my speeches I will warn my American colleagues of the dangers of Islamization.”

After his visit to Washington, Geert Wilders travels to Garland, Texas, where on May 3rd he will give a speech and award a prize of $10,000 for the best Muhammad cartoon.

via. loonwatch

 

Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer Discover “Movie Theater Jihad”

Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer Discover “Movie Theater Jihad”

by Sheila Musaji
A recent fake story about patrons being refused entrance to a movie theater in Britain because they weren’t Muslim was completely debunked by Bob Pitt on Islamophobia Watch.  He noted:

…  the arrival of Eid provided the pretext for yet another round of anti-Muslim scaremongering. According to a rumour that quickly spread across the internet, the Vue cinema in Birmingham’s Star City entertainment complex was only allowing Muslims who were celebrating Eid to enter the venue and had turned away non-Muslims.

This transparently ludicrous story would appear to have been kicked off by a comment posted on the Birmingham Mail Facebook page by one Emma Noakes, who accused Birmingham City Council of colluding with Vue in implementing a discriminatory admission policy:

You’ll note that Ms Noakes’ accusation wasn’t based on her own experience of being turned away from the cinema but on a second-hand and probably garbled account by a friend. As for her suggestion that the local authority was co-operating with Star City in banning non-Muslims from the venue, this was clearly nonsense.

Nevertheless, it was enough to provoke a predictable spate of outraged comments denouncing the supposed ban as further proof of an Islamic takeover of Britain and the subjugation of the indigenous people. A Facebook page was set up to rally opposition to the discrimination against non-Muslims, under the title “Boycott star city – racist shithole”. The accusation of racism was particularly ironic, given that the page is clearly a far-right initiative, as the photos below demonstrate.

Unsurprisingly, Birmingham City Council denied any involvement, telling those who inquired about the issue: “This has nothing to do with the council and is simply not true.” The Birmingham Mail, a newspaper not averse to engaging in a bit of anti-Muslim scaremongering itself, also dismissed the rumour as baseless, stating: “We have fully investigated these allegations and can find no foundation for them.”
Star City management too was adamant that there was no discriminatory policy against non-Muslims on their part, and issued the following statement:

“Star City is a family entertainment centre open to and enjoyed by all. Star City has enjoyed growing success in recent months and we have a proud record of community involvement. Over the past few days Star City has been extremely busy and the volume of traffic has been very high, causing significant traffic congestion and delays in getting some visitors access into the Centre. During the busiest times some visitors have been turned away and there has been some disappointment for some, for which we apologise. However, there is simply no truth in the recent allegations – the nature of which have no place at Star City.”

Although the statement doesn’t mention Eid, this was obviously a major contributory factor to Star City being very busy last week. It is hardly surprising that the festival should result in large numbers of Muslim families visiting the entertainment complex – according to the 2011 census, 21.8% of the population of Birmingham is Muslim, while Star City itself is situated in the Nechells area of the city, where 43.5% of the population is Muslim. Presumably what happened at the Vue cinema was that tickets sold out and disappointed visitors were told they were unable to get a seat because of Eid, which they took to mean that only Muslims were allowed in.

This silly rumour would probably have fizzled out, had it not been taken up and given legitimacy by the Daily Mirror, who reported it under the headline “Vue apologises after families ‘barred from cinema for not being MUSLIM’”. (The Mirror‘s story was then picked up by the Daily Mail, who went for the headline “Vue cinema apologises after friends ‘are turned away by security guard because they were not a Muslim family celebrating Eid’”, while the Daily Star also ran a piece on it, entitled “Lads turned away from busy cinema ‘because they weren’t Muslim’”.)

The Mirror used Emma Noakes’ Facebook post as evidence of discrimination at the Vue cinema and even referred to the “Boycott star city – racist shithole” as an example of public concern about the situation – without mentioning the name of the page or bothering to inform readers that it is run by anti-Muslim bigots. But the Mirror‘s star witness was an individual named Leon Jennings, who told the paper that a “burly security guard” at the Vue cinema informed him and his friends that they “couldn’t go in because it was only couples and families celebrating Eid”. Jennings accused the guard of “making assumptions about my religion and banning me based on my skin colour” and said the cinema’s action amounted to “blatant racism”.

Now, it may be that Jennings failed to understand the reason he was given as to why he couldn’t attend the screening at the cinema, or perhaps the guard failed to explain the situation coherently. Or it could be that Jennings is an attention-seeking self-publicist who contacted the Mirror with a cock-and-bull story with a view to getting his name in the papers. Then again, perhaps Jennings is someone who just has a problem with Muslims. Anything is more likely than the possibility that the cinema actually operated a ban on non-Muslims.

If Jennings genuinely does believe he was barred because he wasn’t a Muslim, then he should go to the police and report it. Discrimination on religious grounds in the provision of goods and services is a criminal offence under Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006. The problem, of course, is that the police would subject Jennings’ claims to considerably more scrutiny that the Mirror did, and if he were found to be making false accusations he could be charged with wasting police time.

The Mirror‘s article was posted on the “Boycott star city – racist shithole” Facebook page as proof that their paranoid accusations were true (“To all the people claiming this is false please read…..”) and was also taken up by the English Defence League and Britain First (see screenshots below). As Steve Rose points out, the Mirror‘s irresponsible reporting resulted in an outburst of online far-right hatred including threats of violence (“Let’s just blow it up? See how they like it”). The Mirror should be ashamed of itself. …

Of course, Pamela Geller jumped on this and published UK: Families barred from cinema for not being Muslim, and she added her own comments:  The islamization of the UK is now approaching dizzying speed. I cannot imagine that it will be recognizable in five to 10 years.  Good thing the UK banned Robert Spencer and me from the UK — we might want to go to the cinema, and that would surely not be “conducive to the public good”: Muslims might riot. It seems, though, that it’s no longer confined to those of us who oppose jihad ….

Geller’s partner in hate, Robert Spencer also posted UK: Families barred from cinema for not being Muslim and added his own comments “This time the cinema apologized. Next time they won’t. Leon Jennings and everyone else in Britain better get used to this sort of thing, because it is going to keep happening. They better get used to their new overlords. And if they don’t like it, they can take it up with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Jacqui Smith, Jack Straw, Theresa May and their ilk.

Pamela Geller’s Collateral Damage

Spencer’s and Geller, the leaders of “AFDI” are up to their tired advert Crusade again.

Collateral Damage

San Francisco Foghorn

If you are planning on riding the 14L bus this week, keep your eyes open for the newest ad taken out by Pamela Geller, founder of the American Freedom Defence Initiative. In response to the recent Islamophobia surrounding ISIS, Geller depicts Muslims as a radical group of extremists showing how one’s devotion can only be measured by their radical acts of aggression. Geller’s ad deserves the triple crown for not only being polarizing, but also for being uninformed and mistargeted as well.

Two years ago, Geller made headlines when she took out similar ads on New York buses equating Muslims to savages. When her ads were pulled by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Geller sued the MTA, and with the federal court ruling in her favor, was able to continue to promote her proudly anti-Islamic views. With the recent obsession with ISIS and Ebola, how could Geller not capitalize on the state of fear that the mainstream media is perpetuating?

Geller is painting an entire religion, culture, and region of the world as terrorists causing fear against Muslims in the United States. This xenophobic response to war is not new and it is a stark reminder of how little has changed since the Japanese Internment camps of the 1940s. Geller has the attention of many Americans peaked because of the recent military gains ISIS has made, as well as the footage they released of their executions of American and British citizens. The association then becomes jaded; if Muslims are only mentioned for their acute actions of violence then one would assume it is a culture inherently full of bloodshed. This could not be more wrong. Associating an entire religion, an entire culture, and entire region of the world with these small organized radical groups causes harm to the Muslim Identity and further alienates Islam from other religions.

These ads — not only harmful to Muslims, but lump Sikhs and Hindus into the same group because of slight similarities in their religious clothing — further perpetuate an intolerant stereotype. It is religious collectivism that is not grounded in any sort of number, statistic, or study. With every religion, there is a radical minority that defaces the tradition in order to gain political leverage and a larger following. But the association that has been made between Muslims and violence must end.

Geller is subject to fear, just as we all are. This fear has caused her to demonize and destroy what she believes is a threat — Islam. Is she wrong? Definitely. But this is no different than it has ever been. This fear comes from an unrealistic view of what Muslims are and what their culture consists of. As for every group that we are fighting, there is propaganda created by fear that leads to a radical view from those who would otherwise be neutral. However, these ads do not condemn ISIS. They attack every man in a turban and every woman in a burka. They fuel the growing Islamophobia in the United States instead of substantiating Islamic culture and beliefs. They are ignorant of any cultural identity as well as ethnic background. They perpetuate violence and hatred where understanding is necessary.

Ads like this and organizations like the American Freedom Defence Initiative will never disappear. It is within their constitutional rights to exist and espouse their views in whatever nonviolent way they choose. But, these ads are misleading and wrong in scope. These ads do nothing to stop ISIS. They do nothing to further defend the United States from their aggressive advances, and do nothing to stop the terrorist organization’s rapid recruitment. These ads instead perpetuate hatred and ignorance — hatred for those who do not deserve it and ignorance in regards to why they do not.

Geller And Spencer Remove Picture of James Foley From Ads But Continue to Use Image Of Aqsa Parvez

It seems they had no compassion for the family of Aqsa Parvez who asked Geller to end their use of their dead daughters image for their Islamophobic agenda.

James Foley Photo Removes From NYC Anti-Islam Ads Following Complaint From Family

Reuters

A photo of American journalist James Foley shortly before his beheading by the Islamic state militant group is being removed from anti-Islam advertisements appearing on Monday on 100 New York City buses and two subway stations.

In response to a complaint from the Foley family, the advertisement is being altered to include an unidentifiable severed head held by the masked militant seen wielding a knife in the video of Foley’s beheading, said David Yerushalmi, lawyer for Pamela Geller, whose group is sponsoring the ads.

“The use of Mr. Foley’s photo in your advertisement will cause profound distress to the Foley family,” family lawyer J. Patrick Rowan said in a letter to Geller.

Geller writes a blog criticizing Islam. Her group, American Freedom Defense Initiative, paid for a six-ad series scheduled to run for a month on the city’s mass transit system.

The ads, including one showing Foley in the video of his beheading released in August, suggest that Islam is inherently violent and extremist, and call for the end of American aid to Islamic countries.

“Having lived in and reported from communities in which nearly everyone was of Muslim faith, he had great respect for the religion and those who practiced it,” the Foley family lawyer wrote, referring to the journalist.

“The advertisement you are preparing to run seems to convey the message that ordinary practitioners of Islam are a dangerous threat. This message is entirely inconsistent with Mr. Foley’s reporting and his beliefs.”

Foley, 40, was kidnapped by armed men in Syria in 2012. Islamic State has seized parts of Syria and Iraq.

Geller’s lawyer said the image will be replaced out of “compassion for the family’s pain and anguish.”

New York City politicians and religious leaders last week criticized the ad campaign, saying no faith should be subject to attack ads and calling it an attempt to divide the city.

Geller was behind a similar ad campaign in 2012 on the city’s transport system, which was initially rejected by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state agency. A federal judge later decided that the MTA’s rule against ads that demeaned race, gender, religion or several other categories was unconstitutional.

The MTA has since revised its standard, and so-called viewpoint ads like Geller’s now run with a large disclaimer saying the MTA does not endorse the views expressed.

Mordechai Kedar Joined Geller and Spencer At Pro-Israel, Anti-Muslim Rally

If you had any doubts of the type of cretins we are dealing with look who flew-in just for the anti-Muslim, pro-Israel massacre on Gaza rally.

via. IslamophobiaWatch

Yesterday Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s American Freedom Defense Initiative held a rally in Union Square, New York, under the slogan “We the living support Israel”.

In an apparent attempt to boost turnout – even Geller must be aware that the vast majority of New York’s Jewish community, including committed supporters of the state of Israel, will have nothing to do with her – the event was subtitled “And minorities persecuted under Islamic rule”.

According to Geller, an individual who enjoys at best a tenuous relationship with reality, the event attracted “thousands” of AFDI supporters, though it’s odd that her website contains no pictures of this vast throng. From photographic evidence, it looks as though the attendance was at most a couple of hundred. A report at the Huffington Post puts it at “around 150″.

The speakers included Israeli academic Mordechai Kedar (pictured), who flew to the US specially to address the rally. According to Geller’s report, he devoted his speech to showing “how the jihadists are proceeding according to quranic imperatives”.

You’ll remember Kaidar. He’s the man who recently hit the headlines after he argued that the only thing that would deter attacks on Israel would be if the sisters or mothers of the perpetrators were raped.

Loonwatch

Democrat Eliot Engel Appears with SIOA Hate leader, Birther Pamela Geller

Democrat Eliot Engel appears at pro-Israel rally featuring anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller

By Alex Kane (MondoWeiss)

Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller was a speaker (see the video above) at a pro-Israel rally in New York City Sunday that also featured Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat. Engel’s presence at a rally that invited Geller, a blogger and activist whose bread and butter is casting aspersions on Muslims, raised eyebrows on Twitter and elsewhere.

Engel is a liberal Congressional Democrat, though he is a hawk on foreign policy issues. Geller is a far-right anti-Muslim blogger whose organization Stop Islamization of America was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Geller has called President Barack Obama “a muhammadan” and floated theories that Obama is the child of Malcolm X and was involved with a “crack whore.” And she is allied with Tea Party groups.

But those stark political differences melt away when it comes to showing up to support Israel’s assault on Gaza. Engel’s and Geller’s speeches were delivered to a rally featuring hundreds of people chanting things like “Israel wants peace, Hamas wants war” and “We are the Jews and we are not afraid.” The show of support for the Israeli assault on Gaza, which has killed at least 375 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, was reportedly organized by local New York Jews.

Here’s more footage of the rally from VIN News:

“I urge you to stand with Israel today,” Geller said at the rally. “But if you don’t, the devil will be at your doorstep tomorrow. Am Yisrael Chai!”

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Geller is a staunch advocate for Israel, and has repeatedly created controversies by buying ad space in cities and putting up inflammatory anti-Muslim messages on them. One ad she has put up in New York and elsewhere reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Below those words and in between two Stars of David, the advertisement read: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” She repeated that message at the rally.

Engel’s ardent support for Israel has lead him to appear alongside right-wing figures in other venues. In 2008, Engel came under criticism from progressives for speaking at the Christians United for Israel conference.

Australia: Robert Spencer Allies, The Q Society, At ‘War With Muslims’

Spencer and Geller have often toured Australia with the anti-Muslim organization, The Q-Society, who have hosted and sponsored the two Islamophobes.

Revealed: The secretive Q Society’s battle against Islam

Their only address is a PO Box in suburban Melbourne. They won’t say exactly where their money comes from and say they never will.

And they are very opposed to Islam in Australia.

The secretive organisation known as the Q Society has this week been linked to a noisy campaign to stop the construction of a mosque in Bendigo, Victoria.

Over the past few weeks, some of the town’s businesses and residents have awoken to find black balloons tied up outside their premises as a way of protesting the proposed place of worship.

The $3 million development was approved last week at a raucous council meeting. There were reports indicating the Q Society was a “key force” behind the Bendigo campaign (the organisation says it only held a public meeting and was “not a protest organisation”).

“Mosque busters”: Black balloons on the corner of Rowena Street and Rohs Road in Bendigo

‘Mosque busters’: Black balloons on the corner of Rowena Street and Rohs Road in Bendigo East. Picture: Ian CurrieSource: News Corp Australia

“Education group”: Debbie Robinson, left, and Andrew Horwood. Picture: News Corp Austarli

‘Education group’: Debbie Robinson, left, and Andrew Horwood. Picture: News Corp Austarlia Source: News Corp Australia

So who exactly are they and what are they doing?

The Q Society — named because the group was founded at a 2010 meeting in the upper class Melbourne suburb of Kew — claims to have members across the country.

Its mission is about “educating” people about Islam, spokesman Andrew Horwood said, rather than leading the protests.

They describe themselves as “Islam-critical”, are avowed opponents of sharia law and have published a book Getting Through: How To Talk To Non Muslims About The Disturbing Nature of Islam and produced YouTube videos including “How to stop a mosque”.

It has few public faces except for its president, Debbie Robinson, and Mr Horwood. “We’re purely educational,” he told news.com.au.

Another image of the proposed mosque.

An image of the proposed mosque. Source: Supplied

Keysar Trad, from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said the group spreads “disturbing, baseless Islamophobia”.

“I think most Australians would normally treat them as a joke but because there’s not enough information out there, not enough good information … about Islam, some people unfortunately subscribe to their message.”

The group is affiliated with an global organisation known as Stop The Islamisation of Nations (SION) — which, as the name suggests, is vehemently anti-Islamic.

The society has been in the headlines several times over the past few years due to its involvement in bringing right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak in Australia.

Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders. Picture: AFP

Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Mr Wilders has faced accusations of racial vilification after branding Islam as a violent religion and likening the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

More than 20 venues he was to speak at last year withdrew their support after a firestorm over his visit.

According to Mr Horwood, that’s a sign that Australia has been stifled by political correctness.

“You have to question in 2013 in Australia are people already scared to talk about Islam?” he said. “Are they fearful about what would happen if they discuss Islam?

“You have the riots in Sydney only 18 months ago. Actions like that make people fear (discussing) it.”

Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia. Picture: News Corp Aust

Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia. Picture: News Corp Australia Source: News Limited

Mr Horwood said members’ security was one reason why the organisation employed secretive measures, such as refusing to name its supporters and nondisclosure agreements for members who attend meetings.

“It’s important in our industry that we understand who is actually there,” Mr Horwood said.

“I’m sure you’re aware of what’s happening overseas with people under 24-hour armed guard. “We like to have an understanding of who’s attending our meetings.”

But Mr Trad said the Q Society was just paranoid.

“The secrecy behind their message is an indication of paranoia. People should realise this is not a message they should take very seriously. It’s a message they should throw in the bin.”

(via. LoonWatch)

Religious leaders slam Spencer And Geller’s anti-Muslim bus ads

Religious leaders slam anti-Muslim bus ads

New ads on Metro buses with a photo of Adolf Hitler and a prominent Muslim leader represent the “bigotry and hate” that divide people and spur hatred, religious groups said Monday morning.

“These ads are trying to say the Quran calls for hatred of Judaism,” said Ira Weiss, who represented the Jewish Islam Dialogue Society, which works to bring together Muslims and Jews. “It is easy to cherry-pick nasty parts of Scripture in any text – they were written thousands of years ago,” Weiss said at a news conference in Rockville. “These words used in the ads are like the devil using Scripture against its religion.”

The ads, created by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, feature a photo of Hitler speaking to Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was grand mufti of Jerusalem at the time. They ask people to stop aiding Muslims in an attempt to “end racism.” The ads, which are on 20 Metro buses, declare that “Islamic Jew-hatred” is “in the Quran,” adding the “two thirds of all US aid goes to Islamic countries.”

The Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group – which represents the county’s Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian communities – organized the news conference and rally, which drew about 100 people to the Rockville Metro station.

James Stow, director of the county’s Office of Humans Rights, said he was happy to support the religious protest against the ad. “Freedom is not free,” Stow said. “It’s heavy lifting.” He said he recognized that the group that bought the ads enjoys freedom of speech, but it should use that freedom to speak against hate.

Meanwhile, Pamela Geller of New York, who leads that pro-Israel group, said she was surprised by the protest because she has not heard of other protests against what she called the teachings of the Quran. “I am surprised that these same Muslim leaders are not protesting the anti-Semitic texts and teachings in the Quran,” Geller wrote in an email to The Gazette. “Instead they protest those of us that oppose such hate speech.”

The ads concern U.S. aid to other countries, Geller said. “So if that is the issue, why didn’t these protesters protest against the American Muslims for Palestine ad?” she asked, referring to that group’s ads on Metro buses in April.

Those ads read: “We’re sweating April 15 so Israelis don’t have to! Stop US aid to Israel’s occupation.” The message was superimposed over a tax return form, next to a picture of Uncle Sam waving an Israeli flag.

“As for bringing in religion where it is not needed, that is not my doing,” Geller wrote. “The Islamic jihadists have done that, impeding peace in Israel with their genocidal religion-based hatred, as Hamas so memorably expressed recently when they said on their Aqsa TV channel: ‘Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah.’ It is chilling that anyone in the U.S. would protest against an attempt to draw attention to that hateful and violent ethos.”

Those who attended Monday’s rally called the protest a good step forward.

Imam Faizul Khan, an administrator with the Islamic Society of the Washington Area and co-chairman of the Faith Community Advisory Council, said he came because he was “concerned with the message of division, bigotry and hate.” “I came today to help bring awareness to the community, and bring unity,” Khan said. “I believe the best next step is to create an infection of love in Montgomery County and continue our momentum.”

Weiss said he realizes that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs the Metro bus and rail systems, did not want to place these ads on its buses, but the advertising space has been ruled by the courts as a public forum protected by the First Amendment.

“We may not decline ads based on their political content,” WMATA said in an email to The Gazette. “WMATA does not endorse the advertising on our system, and ads do not reflect the position of the Authority. There is a disclaimer statement printed on the advertising stating this.”

The Gazette, 11 June 2014

‘Stop the Islamization of America’ is disparaging and can’t be trademarked, Federal Circuit says

 

sioa_hate_group

‘Stop the Islamization of America’ is disparaging and can’t be trademarked, Federal Circuit says

Islamophobes Geller and Spencer keep losing in court.

‘Stop the Islamization of America’ is disparaging and can’t be trademarked, Federal Circuit says

By Debra Cassens Weiss

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has refused a trademark for the phrase “Stop the Islamization of America” because it is disparaging to Muslims.

The Federal Circuit ruled on Tuesday against blogger Pamela Geller, who founded a group by that name and runs a website called “Stop! Islamization of America.” The Wall Street Journal Law BlogReuters and the Washington Post have stories. How Appealing links to the opinion (PDF) and other coverage.

The ruling is based on a section of the Trademark Act that allows refusal of a trademark for matters that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” A footnote in the decision notes that the parties alternate between the spelling “Islamization” and “Islamisation.” The opinion uses both spellings.

Geller was in the news for opposing construction of a mosque in New York City near the site of the World Trade Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center views Stop Islamization of America as a hate group, the Post says. She commented on the ruling in an email to Reuters.

“This is a complete whitewash and we knew we would be up against the PC (politically correct) bias in the court,” Geller wrote. “This is clear ongoing evidence of how the federal government and especially the courts, bend over backwards, kowtow and placate Muslim sensitivities.”

Law professor Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles says his “tentative view” is that the exclusion of disparaging trademarks should be seen as unconstitutional. “But I’m not sure that courts will ultimately see this my way,” he writes at his blog, the Volokh Conspiracy.

Legal experts believe the case has implications for the fight over the name of the Washington Redskins, Reuters says.

The case is In re Geller and Spencer.