Self-described “anti-jihadist” and conservative blogger Pamela Geller has purchased advertising space on New York City buses for an ad that graphically depicts a plane about to crash into the World Trade Center. Geller is leading a crusade against the Ground Zero mosque, calling it “insensitive to the families and to America that was attacked on 9/11.” The ad campaign features a phony sketch of the planned Ground Zero mosque, which appears to be as big as the Twin Towers and is labeled the “WTC Mega Mosque.”
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority initially rejected the ad, telling Geller that images of the September 11 attacks were not allowed, according to her account of their conversations. Geller re-submitted the ad without any smoke near the towers, and a plane flying in the distance, not approaching the towers. When that was also rejected, Geller filed a lawsuit over the denial.
Today, the MTA changed its position and accepted the most graphic version of the advertisement. Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, issued a brief statement Monday:
While the MTA does not endorse the views expressed in this or other ads that appear on the transit system, the advertisement purchased by a group opposing a planned mosque near the World Trade Center was accepted today after its review under MTA’s advertising guidelines and governing legal standards.
The MTA’s reversal is curious, considering that earlier this year it rejected advertisements from the Working Families Party that criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg and cuts to New York bus and subway service. The ads resembled MTA posters, but substituted acronyms like “WTF” instead of subway lines.
At the time, the MTA said the ads implied obscene language, and that ads that were “offensive, improper or in bad taste” could not be run. Apparently images of the Twin Towers being destroyed are not considered improper.