Or at least they try not to be. After losing a court battle in an attempt to block them, the MTA is now obligated to run a new anti-Islam ad from the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative, reading, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man."
"Our hands are tied," said an MTA spokesman who had hoped to at least postpone the controversial ads and their "demeaning language" in the midst of turmoil (helpfully described by Newsweek as "Muslim Rage") sparked by the propaganda film Innocence of Muslims.
No dice. You see, in this country, we've got a little thing called free speech, and a federal court cited the First Amendment in forcing the MTA to run the ads, which are expected to go up next week in ten different stations. The group has already posted ads in Metro North with the slogan "It's not Islamophobia. It's Islamorealism," which in that case, since it left out the word "savages," did not meet the Transit Authority's definition of overly "demeaning."
"It's perfectly legal to be a bigot and a racist," explained the director of New York's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations. "We want to make sure there's a counter-voice."
"We're encouraging Muslims to go out there and define themselves."
As for officials at the AFDI, they know better than to assume that public discourse ever, ever affects real-life events, and one accused transit officials of "kowtowing to the threat of jihad terrorism," adding, "freedom must be vigorously defended."
Yes, this is definitely the most inspiring, safe, and productive way to represent freedom that we can conceive of. Can't wait for the commute to be that much more fraught every day. A big pat on the back to everyone involved.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.