Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hush Your Mouth!

Some (many?) of you have seen this ad on the buses recently.I've been having folks/passengers storm off buses as if this is offensive.

Years ago I heard a quote that I love and live by:

"The truth is hate to those who hate the truth."

Those who call this hate speech and what not, their real beef is with the fact that this is truth.

All that aside (sorta!) keep in mind that RTD is a municipality.
They are funded mostly by tax payers dollars.
And those tax payers make up a complete spectrum of beliefs.
From those who agree with this ad to those who disagree.

Some of the comments I've heard from those who disagree with this ad would seem to imply that if any ad offends anybody of any belief, that ad should be censored/pulled as hate speech.
It's those who disagree with The Constitution who've wasted tax payer's money across this country at other transit districts with frivolous lawsuits they have failed.
In every case, this ad has been supported by the Constitution as a Freedom of Speech, Expression & Religion.

The Constitution gives us the Freedom OF Speech, not from it.

All that aside, I'd like to take some quotes by RTD on this subject (
from their FaceBook Page):
"To be clear, RTD does not endorse or support any of the products, services, issues or candidates that choose to buy ad space on our vehicles. Since we are a taxpayer funded agency and not a private organization, our ad space is subject to the 1st Amendment and our ability to reject ads based on their content is thus limited. Our Advertising Standards Policy does allow us to reject ads that are obscene, promote illegal activities, promote tobacco, or are false, misleading, or deceptive. RTD's Legal, Purchasing and Marketing units each reviewed the ads and could find no *legally* supportable reason to reject them. Similar ads have been popping up at other transit agencies across the country over the past several years. In each case, the few agencies that initially refused to run the ads ended up being challenged in court and ultimately lost, making those agencies pay significant legal costs and generating a large amount of negative publicity well above and beyond what the ads themselves generated. As required by our Advertising Standards Policy, the creator and purchaser of any political ad must be clearly displayed on the ad, as it is in this case. If you are interested in contacting the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the organization responsible for the content of the ad, the email for their Executive Director Pamela Geller, is

As stated previously, our marketing, purchasing, and legal departments were unable to find a legally justifiable reason to reject this ad. Though the content of the ad and opinions expressed by the ad have been condemned by the community and local media as intolerant, distasteful, and offensive, the content of the ad does not make any explicitly false, misleading, or deceptive claims that would give RTD legal grounds to reject the ad. Legal precedent has been established in favor of the advertiser every time a transit agency has tried to reject similar ads, resulting in significant legal costs for the agency (and tax-payers). This situation has little to do with advertising dollars, as advertising revenue made up a mere .4% of our total annual revenues in 2011...

Please note that we do not endorse or support any of the products, services, issues or candidates that choose to buy ad space on our vehicles. It is not an issue of whether or not we agree with them, it is an issue of free speech and 1st Amendment Rights granted to our advertisers by the United States Constitution. We have limited ability to reject ads, and our lawyers have determined that there in insufficient grounds for RTD to legally defend itself in a court of law if we were to reject this ad and be sued by the advertiser. Legal precedents established in similar cases involving other transit agencies have always favored the advertiser. Please understand that there is nothing we can legally do about this ad, and that it will be removed in about a week."

As Always, "Welcome aboard, Find your seats, Keep your opinions to yourself - Let's Roll!"

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