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American freedom defense_initiative_group_2_final paper

  1. 1. American Freedom Defense Initiative Freedom of Speech Battleground 12/13/2012 SIS 640 Final Group Paper Group 2Amber Massey, Curt Devine, Jamie Schlesser, Una Hrnjak
  2. 2. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 2Table of ContentsExecutive Summary .................................................................................................................................... 3Introduction ................................................................................................................................................. 4American Freedom Defense Initiative Background................................................................................. 6 Top Twenty Sites Linking to AFDI Blog ............................................. Error! Bookmark not defined.Controversy in US Cities from NYC, DC, to San Francisco ................................................................. 11 New York City sets the stage for the First Amendment Battle with AFDI .......................................... 11 National Security Matters Cited to Delay Ads in Washington, DC .................................................... 13 San Francisco Learns from DC and NY ............................................................................................. 16NGOs Conducting Counter Campaigns in the Virtual and Public Sphere ......................................... 17 The Campaign of Shoulder to Shoulder .............................................................................................. 18 The Campaign of Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI)........................................................................... 19 The Campaign of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) ...................................................................... 19The International Communication Challenge: American Advertising, Hate Speech, and theExplanation of Free Speech Abroad........................................................................................................ 23 Out-of-home (OOH) Advertising ........................................................................................................ 25 Are Ads Protected by the First Amendment? ...................................................................................... 26 Is Hate Speech Protected by the First Amendment? ........................................................................... 27America’s Exceptional Speech Tradition Informs the Global Debate of Free Speech ....................... 29Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................. 33Works Cited............................................................................................................................................... 34
  3. 3. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 3Executive Summary This paper explores the controversial ads placed by the American Freedom DefenseInitiative (AFDI) in transit systems of New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco in earlyfall of 2012. These ads contain controversial language often associated with anti-Muslim hatespeech in American and international discourse. Since the launch of this campaign, AFDI’scampaign has been challenged and criticized online, in the court room, and through counter-adcampaigns and activities launched by non-governmental organizations and individual activists.This paper seeks to contextualize the controversy in respect to America’s free speech tradition. Itwill explore the history and free speech activities of AFDI and discuss the recently-filed courtcases in New York and Washington, DC that solidified AFDI’s rights under free speech to posttheir controversial ads in transit systems. It will also explore how transit system companies, non-governmental organizations, and individuals are challenging the message of AFDI’s ad campaignonline, in the courtroom, and in privatized transit system advertising space throughout the US. Inaddition, the paper will present a discussion on the domestic and international implications ofAmerica’s protection of political speech and demonstrate the country’s free speechexceptionalism in comparison to other influential nations, including France, Cuba, Brazil andChina.
  4. 4. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 4Introduction Anyone who watches the news knows that religion and culture remain passionate topicsand potential sources of conflict among groups with different backgrounds. The recent mediacoverage of the controversy surrounding the posting of advertisements critical of the extremistminority of Muslims actively carrying out a mission of jihad by a purported pro-Israel advocacygroup, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), illustrates a major shift in how cross-cultural difference is negotiated in contemporary society. What were once primarily localizedconflicts—verbal or perhaps physical disagreements between groups with clear historical orgeographical ties—have become global concerns thanks to the free flow of information and ideasacross mostly borderless networks made possible by the Information and CommunicationTechnologies (ICTs). The AFDI example also shows a shift toward locating this discord in therealm of mass media and advertising. These outlets can become proxies for conveying particularinterpretations of events, promoting a positive or negative image of particular religious orcultural groups, and countering assertions made about those groups by others. Similarly, the media increasingly play a role in magnifying local events and clashesbetween groups for the global stage. Finally, in America’s public sphere, which is protected byfree speech tradition, political opinion can become just another product that can be marketedusing advertising and public relations campaigns. Using the ongoing AFDI campaign as a casestudy, this project seeks to answer the following questions: why are individuals and non-governmental organizations negotiating cross-cultural conflicts through advertisements in the USpublic sphere; how are national and international individuals and organizations challenging thiscampaign online, in American courtrooms, and in transit systems throughout the U. S; and
  5. 5. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 5finally, what are the domestic and international implications of America’s free speech traditionfor the age of globalization? One important factor that must be considered in answering these questions is the impactof globalization. Scholars of this phenomenon have argued that globalization has unsettled thetraditional dominant position of the nation-state and allowed for greater emphasis on other formsof group affiliation, including religious and/or cultural identity (Karim, 2009; Sinclair, 2004;Thussu, 1996). Some have also suggested that the greater mobility made possible throughtransportation technologies, the establishment of vast diasporic communities, and the growth ofcosmopolitanism, or the idea of being a citizen of the world rather than tied to a particulargeographical space, have changed the scope and scale of cultural identity (Karim, 2009;Waisboard, 2004). The end result is a greater need to negotiate difference on a global scale andthe transportation of conflicts from their traditional physical spaces to new realms. In the case ofthe AFDI campaign, a conflict that originally began as a cross-cultural division betweensupporter of Israel and the populations of Islamic states is now escalating within the publictransit systems of the United States thanks to the increased role NGOs are taking in thenegotiation of complex social issues. Another factor that may help explain why the AFDI chooses to use advertisements astheir medium for communicating their controversial message is the increasing emphasis on therole of non-governmental groups in influencing policymaking and the shift toward the publicrelations-style soft diplomacy of noopolitik, whether among civil society actors, traditionalnation-state international relations efforts, or supranational organizations (Ronfeldt & Arquilla,1999/2007; Raboy, 2004). Finally, to answer the question of why this cross-cultural negotiationis taking place in America, we can look to the role of American exceptionalism as it relates to the
  6. 6. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 6unique history of free expression and the protection of even the most controversial politicalspeech under specific language found in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.American Freedom Defense Initiative Background The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) is a New York-based, conservativeadvocacy organization founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in 2010 that seeks to,“fight the good fight in the information battle-space” against what AFDI calls political Islam(“AFDI,” 2012). The organization carries out blogging and ad campaigns throughout the UnitedStates to thwart the perceived threat of Sharia law, which they deem will destroy Americandemocracy and diminish free speech and religious freedom in America and around the world.AFDI has recently launched controversial ad campaigns in the transit systems of major U.S.cities like New York City and Washington, D.C., posting controversial ads to promote a ProIsrael agenda under what some critics call “Islamophobia” (“Islamophobic,” 2012). AlthoughAFDI continuously proclaims the organization’s mission is to promote human rights, theSouthern Poverty Law Center labels AFDI a Muslim-hate group. The criteria to be labeled aMuslim-hate group by the Center includes exhibiting extreme hostility toward Muslims andIslam as fundamentally negative; depicting Muslims as irrational, intolerant, and violent; andholding conspiratorial views that American democracy and Western civilization are in danger ofbeing replaced by Islamic despotism (“Anti-Muslim,” 2012). Both founders of AFDI connect the organization’s mission to their personal diaspora-group identities, creating an underlying assumption that the organization’s controversial adsrepresent the interests and perspectives of the diaspora communities of which they claimmembership. Pro-Israel Pamela Geller was born into a Jewish family in 1958 and was raised in
  7. 7. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 7Long Island, New York. Before becoming an activist and blogger, Geller worked in marketing,media, and publishing at the New York Daily News and the New York Observer. (“PamelaGeller,” 2010) Robert Spencer is a The New York Times best-selling author and blogger, whosebooks and blogs criticize Islam. Spencer is a practicing Melkite Greek Catholic and claims hisgrandparents were forced to immigrate to America from Turkey because of their Christianbeliefs. He has recounted his grandparents’ forced immigration as an example of Islamicintolerance to religious differences. (“About” 2012). Spencer spends less time than Gelleradvocating for ADFI; his primary focus is his blog Jihad Watch, which often positions Islam andIslamic concepts as dangerous and counts Islamic supremacism a real threat to American societyand a free, globalized world. In 2010, AFDI launched its first initiative, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA)—theAmerican affiliate to the Stop the Islamisation of Europe organization that originated in Europe.Through this initiative came AFDI’s first ad and political campaign, primarily against thebuilding of an Islamic community center called Park51 near the former site of the World TradeCenter (“How,” 2012). AFDI’s recent ad campaigns began in summer 2012 in New York, withAFDI submitting requests for ad space to the New York Transit Authority (MTA). One of theads submitted stated, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilizedman. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” (“Islamophobic,” 2012). Over the last 700 years, European colonialists and imperialists have used the word“savage” to denigrate and dehumanize the cultures and populations they sought to colonize,oppress, or exploit (“Stay Civilized,” 2012). This word, too, has an undeniably oppressive placein American history, evoking memories of the enslavement of Africans and the genocide ofNative populations on the American continent. Both of these groups were systematically referred
  8. 8. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 8to as “savages” in colonial America to maintain European imperialistic power in social,economic, and political life (“D.C. Metro,” 2012). MTA was sensitive to the use of “savage” inhistorical hate speech, giving it credence to deny AFDI space under MTA’s “no-demean” rule.Irrespective of the ad’s inflammatory language, Geller claimed that MTA’s refusal to run the adsviolated First Amendment rights. A similar scenario played out when AFDI expanded their campaign to Washington, early September. Geller met resistance from the Washington Area Metro Transit Authority(WMATA) who enlisted the involvement of the Department of Homeland Security to assess thead’s risk of escalating protests in the Middle East. September was a precarious time in Americandiplomacy as the State department was dealing with two recent events that caused significantnational security issues and damage to American national image including the release of theAmerican-made movie trailer that disgraced the Prophet Mohammad, anti-Americandemonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa as well as a terrorist attack on the U.S.Consulate in Libya. As was the case in New York, the WMATA’s battle against the ads spilled into thecourtrooms. And, as in New York, WMATA was eventually ordered to allow the ads to displayat Metro stops. The ads in D.C. have received much attention and criticism from nonprofitorganizations representing the interests of diaspora and religious groups. These nonprofits arecarrying out counter-ad campaigns to balance what they deem as hate speech.. This nonprofitcompetition for ad space is quickly transforming the Washington, D.C. transit system into anideological and visual battleground between organizations championing diaspora interests in avery public sphere. In response to the surging counter-ad campaign, AFDI is currently rallyingsupport to extend the campaign in Washington, D.C. (“Anti-Muslim,” 2012). The AFDI website
  9. 9. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 9aggressively features several prominent donation avenues above the blog’s left navigation. Allavenues link to a Paypal payment page. Although no funding data has been discovered at thistime, ABC Online reported in a recent article that AFDI has over 30,000 supporters, Facebookfriends, and participants in their events (“New York,” 2012). It’s safe to deduce that the adcampaign and the increased media the organization is receiving is serving as an effective vehiclefor AFDI to expand their support base. This media coverage might also improve AFDI’s network strength on the Internet.Manuel Castells, in his study of social movements, asserts that networking, a de-centered form oforganization and intervention, is characteristic of new and global social movements as theymirror and counteract the networking logic of domination in the information society. (Castells,1997, p.362). A glance at AFDI’s inbound links speaks to this phenomenon as higher numbers ofinbound links improve rank in search engines and usually indicates a measure of a sitesnetworking power (“Alexa results,” 2012). However, the recent spike in inbound links to AFDImight be less representative of the blog’s increasing network worth and more an indicator of thesuccess of AFDI’s campaign to establish a greater presence in the World Wide Web and tospread their organization’s viewpoints and perceptions within the virtual and public sphere. On November 11, 2012, the blog is seeing inbound links from major hubs in internetnews, social online forums, and the blogosphere, as aggregated by The top twentysites linking to the AFDI blog include the websites of major media outlets including BBC, TheGuardian and the Business Insider.
  10. 10. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 10 Top Twenty Sites Linking to AFDI Blog 1. 2. Tumblr 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Scoop.ot 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. Figure 1: This figure lists the 20 top and most influential online social forums, media websites, and blogs that linked to AFDI on November, 11, 2012 (Alexa, 2012). Another interesting mention and trend to watch is the media attention’s effect on thenetworking power of Pamela Geller’s and Robert Spencer’s personal blogs. Technorati, an onlinetracking system that predicts the network worth and popularity of blogs through severalindicators, ranks Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs blog at 11 in World Authority as of November,11. Her blog also makes the Top 100 Politics, Top 100 U.S. Politics, and Top 100 World Politicslists (“Technorati Atlas shrugs,” 2012). Robert Spencer’s personal Jihad Watch blog is alsoranked highly, coming in 45 in the World Authority indicator, and making the Top 100 WorldPolitics list (“Technorati Jihad Watch, 2012). AFDI’s website is neither listed nor ranked byTechnorati at this time. However, their highly-ranked personal blogs might indicate their abilityto reshape discussions and debates within and across groups on the Internet (Aday, 2010). The mission of AFDI’s ad campaign is ambiguous, but given the networking and bloggingpower of both Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, the ads are certainly strengthening theirnotoriety and perhaps expanding their global online and political network. Their ability to
  11. 11. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 11transfer their “netwars” with nonprofits into the public sphere is critical to their ability toproduce and transform public attention and discourse, in addition to improving their personalnetworking power online. With the help of Geller and Spencer’s personal networking strength,AFDI’s global movement communications infrastructure satisfy Jeffry Juris’ three planes ofinfluence and strength of networked social movements; AFDI has the technology, theorganizational structure, and political and financial support to focus public and global discourseon their interests and perspectives. (Jarvis,2008).Controversy in US Cities from NYC, DC, to San Francisco AFDI is attempting to expand to this ad campaign to other cities across the United States,and transportation agencies, organizations, and residents are contesting the ads’ controversiallanguage and appropriateness for the public sphere. In response to courts upholding theconstitutionality of the ads’ political speech, organizations and civil society actors in New York,Washington, D.C., California, Michigan and other states are fighting the ads by public displaysof protests or counter-ad campaigns.New York City sets the stage for the First Amendment Battle with AFDI As discussed previously, this ad campaign was not the first time that AFDI contactedCBS Outdoor Group, the corporate advertising specialist of New York’s MTA, to place their adsin New York transit system. (American Freedom Defense Initiative v. New York CityMetropolitan Transit Authority, 2012). Back in 2010, CBS Outdoor Group and MTA approvedthe following ad of AFDI’s early SOIA program: “Fatwa on your head? Is your family orcommunity threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!” This ran from Mayof 2010 on NYC buses and the other which depicted the World Trade Center buildings burning –
  12. 12. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 12and pointing to a mosque reading, “September 11, 2001 / WTC Jihad Attack and “September 11,2011 / WTC Mega Mosque” followed by the words ““Why There?” and “Ground Zero”(American Freedom Defense Initiative v. New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, 2012).This ad was in response to the building of Park51 near Ground Zero. According to MTA, although these ads were controversial, they did not violate MTA’sadvertising “no-demeaning} policy which states that ads may not “contain images or informationthat demean an individual or group of individuals on account of race, color, religion, nationalorigin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.” (American Freedom DefenseInitiative v. New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, 2012). The use of the word “savage”in the latest campaign took a different consideration. MTA explained that the ad sought out agroup of people in a negative manner, citing one particular policy which reads, ads may not“contain images or information that demean an individual or group of individuals on account ofrace, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation”(American Freedom Defense Initiative v. New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, 2012).MTA recommended that CBS Outdoor Group work with AFDI to change the language of the ad.AFDI automatically refused to do this and shortly after filed a lawsuit against MTA for violationof their First Amendment constitutional right to freedom of expression (American FreedomDefense Initiative v. New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, 2012). In April 2012, following months of motions and paper filing, the Federal District CourtPaul A. Engelmayer heard the case. The court ruled that MTA did not properly protect the firstamendment right of the AFDI and indicated that the “no demeaning” language standard wasactually unconstitutional and recommended to MTA to change its policies and protect the adproposed by AFDI. Judge Engelmayer was quoted, “The AFDI Ad is not only protected
  13. 13. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 13speech—it is core political speech” (American Freedom Defense Initiative v. New York CityMetropolitan Transit Authority, 2012). Judge Engelmayer explained that AFDI’s ad showed theorganization’s pro-Israel stance on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The judge justified the adsgoing up as they are “a form of response to political ads on the same subject that have appearedin the same space. As such, the AFDI Ad is afforded the highest level of protection under theFirst Amendment” (American Freedom Defense Initiative v. New York City MetropolitanTransit Authority, 2012). New York City MTA has been working since the ruling to change itspolicies and accepted the placements of AFDI’s ads on New York City buses. Following thecontroversy in New York City, a similar battle between the Washington D.C. Metro Authoritybegan when AFDI proposed placing similar ads in Washington When the ads went up in New York City, the public responded with vandalism,criticisms of the authority on the internet and requests for the ads’ removal, MTA responded byexplaining that their “hands were tied (Flegenheimer 2, 2012)” because of the court’s ruling.Joseph J. Lhota, the authority’s chairman explained that MTA will “deal with a free-speech issuewith more free speech (Flegenheimer 2, 2012)”. The court’s ruling was a mere reflection of theunique system that exists in the United States, where freedom of expression must be protectedand upheld.National Security Matters Cited to Delay Ads in Washington, DC Shortly after the ruling in New York City, a similar battle between AFDI and theWashington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) began in September 2012. Whenthe request from AFDI came to WMATA, WMATA and the Transportation SecurityAdministration (TSA) of the Department of Homeland Security were concerned about Anti-
  14. 14. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 14Americanism abroad In particular the administrations cited the release of the American-mademovie trailer that went viral on the Internet; entitled “The Innocence of Muslims” the trailerdisgraced the Prophet Mohammad and caused large and dangerous anti-Americandemonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa (American Freedom Defense Initiativeet al. v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2012). Around the same time and inconnection with these protests, an attack on the United States Consulate compound in Benghazi,Libya ended with four Americans dead, including the Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens(“Six Things,” 2012). In tandem, these events handicapped America’s soft power throughout theMiddle East, and forced the State department to answer to a frenzy of media and politicalaccusations that American hard power and intelligence were compromised in the region. -Following the terrorist attack on the US embassy in Libya and continued outrage in the MiddleEast, TSA expressed concern about the timing of the ad and the chance for an increased terroristattack considering world events – especially in highly targeted areas like the Washington DCmetro system. WMATA and concerned parties recommended that the ads be postponed to ensurepublic safety in the D.C. metro area (American Freedom Defense Initiative v. WashingtonMetropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2012).WMATA explained that the ads could threaten thesafety of their passengers in two ways: “(1) inter-passenger disputes on subway platforms thatcould result in passengers falling into the tracks or (2) a terrorist attack.(American FreedomDefense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2012). AFDI did not agree with WMATA’s decision, Pamela Geller, the executive director ofthe American Freedom Defense Initiative, responded quickly to Washington authorities in anemail saying she would not be, “kowtowing to the threat of jihad terrorism (Flegenheimer 1,2012)”. She concluded that recent Anti-Americanism in the Middle East did not make her think
  15. 15. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 15twice for posting AFDI ads, indicating, “I will never cower before violent intimidation, and stoptelling the truth because doing so is dangerous. Freedom must be vigorously defended(Flegenheimer 1, 2012)”. Shortly after WMATA tried to delay the ads AFDI filed suit allegedthat WMATA was depriving them of their right to engage in protected speech in a public forum– and this was once again a violation of their First Amendment (American Freedom DefenseInitiative v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2012). In American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan Area TransitAuthority, the court agreed that WMATA’s concern for their passengers and employees wascompelling but ultimately the court explained that the First Amendment protects “obnoxious andoffensive speech” (American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan AreaTransit Authority, 2012). Judge Mary Collyer’s ruling echoed similar reasoning’s as JudgeEngelmayer’s in New York. Federal Judge Coyer explained that WMATA had 48 hours to allowthe posting of the ads throughout Washington. The ads were posted to U Street, Georgia Avenue,Takoma Park, and Glenmont Metro stations the last week of October. (“Anti-Jihad,” 2012) Inher ruling she indicated that, “there is no doubt that content-based restrictions can rarely passconstitutional review” (American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan AreaTransit Authority, 2012). The American Freedom Law Center, which filed the cases in NewYork City and in Washington D.C. on behalf ofAFDI considered both D.C. and NYC cases a“victory” (Tucker, 2012). David Yerushalmi, alawyer representing the American FreedomDefense Initiative noted, "The result isabsolutely correct. There simply was no way Source of Photo: Tucker
  16. 16. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 16under the First Amendment jurisprudence that we have today that this ad should not have goneup when contracted (Tucker, 2012)." Just as it was for the case in New York, the ruling by theWashington DC federal judge reflected the unique rights Americans have to be able to expressthemselves freely in a public space. This form of speech is protected under the US Constitution.San Francisco Learns from DC and NY AFDI is currently targeting west coast cities like San Francisco, California. In the midstof the summer’s controversies around MTA’s responses in New York City and Washington,D.C. San Francisco authorities allowed the placement of the ads on the city’s Muni bus systemwithout protest. Metro Authority in San Francisco explained that the ads were protected underthe First Amendment and began placing them on buses in August 2012 (Reisman, 2012). ThePresident of the San Francisco Transportation Board, Tom Nolan, said in an interview with theSan Francisco Examiner that, “What could happen here if we take them all down [is] we couldbe taken to court and [there] would be a big cost associated with that and we could be forced— Iguess like New York, to put them back up anyway (Reisman, 2012).” The Board has also publically stated that its members find the ads “offensive” and hasrequested to place a disclaimer under each ad to indicate that the agency does not support thead’s viewpoints. (Reisman, 2012). In San Francisco, public reaction has been extensively carriedout by residents and supported by national NGOs or community organizations, stirring muchdebate among residents and tourists visiting the area. The public has defaced the ads, trying toremove the controversial language. Organizations are also not completely absent from the debateand since the ads have gone up, one grassroots organization in particular called Change.orgcirculated a petition requesting for the ads to be removed (Reisman, 2012). and its
  17. 17. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 17followers believe that, “Declaring a whole people “savages” belongs in the dustbin of 19thcentury colonial racism, not on a city bus in the 21st Century of a progressive city like SanFrancisco (Reisman, 2012).”NGOs Conducting Counter Campaigns in the Virtual and Public Sphere NGOs and civil society actors across the US are coming together against AFDI andbuilding a larger community based on a shared understanding to object “hate speech” utilized byAFDI. Ronfeldt and Aquilla shared in their research that in the current state, organizations willcontinue to utilize various communications vehicles to relay a specific message that persuadesand invites people to a larger global community. Various groups think that language used byAFDI is hate speech, and are using information communication technologies (ICTs) such asFacebook, blogs, Twitter, and ad space to challenge AFDI on the Internet and in Transit Systemsacross the country. The internet in particular is serving as a valuable platform to organizationsand individuals to strengthen and galvanize support against the AFDI ads (Jarvis ). An electronicand hard petition in San Francisco started by is just one of many examples of NGOoutcry to the AFDI ads. The ads have caused heated conversations on D.C.’s metro system,campaigns on social media, student protests, and counter-ads to bring down AFDI’s message.NGOs and civil society actors are increasingly involved in shaping public opinion aboutcontroversial topics. This section will cover the various campaigns supported by increasinglypowerful actors in an attempt to unify groups and people against the AFDI ads. In response to in the placements of the AFDI ads in New York City, a Twitter campaign wasstarted by the general public titled #mysubwayad to combat AFDI’s hate speech (Barooah,
  18. 18. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 182012). A collection of tweets denounced the demeaning nature of the AFDI ad and encouragedreligious tolerance. Tweets included: 1. “In NYC We Speak 140 Languages and Hate Isnt One Of Them. #MySubwayAd #antihate” (Barooah, 2012) 2. “Hatred wont ever work as a solution, but it will always be a part of the problem. Dont fight hate with hate #MySubwayAd #AntiHate” (Barooah, 2012) Source of Photo: Barooah 3. “Imagine being an American in a country with billboards on public transportation calling you a savage #mysubwayad” (Barooah, 2012)Similar postings on Facebook and other means of social media have continued throughout thecountry to fight hate speech – in particular citing anti-Muslim messages as hate speech when onegroup of people is negatively targeted.The Campaign of Shoulder to Shoulder Shoulder to Shoulder is a Washington-based coalition of religious groups that include 28member groups representing Christians, Jews, and Muslims. They have launched an ad campaignof their own in response to the controversial ads. The ads have gone up in numerous Washington,D.C. metro stops and read, "Hate speech is not civilized. Support peace in work and deed.#mysubwayad” (Tull, 2012). In an interview with D.C.Ist, the organization’s campaign DirectorChristina Warner explained that Shoulder to Shoulder bought the Metro ads to "provide localclergy with an opportunity to speak out in an organized way. The hash tag is a way for people toget involved in conversation. Its allowed people who want to speak out against the ad a way todo so (Freed, 2012)." The coalition has also asked for WMATA to donate all profits from theAFDI ads to charity (Tull, 2012). This request was also made in San Francisco where the
  19. 19. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 19transportation authority was asked to donate its proceeds to the Human Rights Commission foran educational campaign about the issue (Reisman, 2012).The Campaign of Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) Other groups like the Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) Coalition claim that AFDI ads and their views are “islamphobic,” particularly because of the inclusion ofSource of Photo: CAIR “savage” (Moscow, 2012). JAI member Elly Bulkinexplained that, “This message denigrates Muslims, Palestinians, and other Arabs. Its use of theterm ‘savages’ has resonance for all communities of color in this country that have faced a longhistory of racism and discrimination against them (Moscow, 2012).”Additional groups in theWashington, D.C. metro area such as the Christian group “Sojourners” are placing ads with moretolerant language throughout the metro. Ads are reading, “Love Your Muslim Neighbors" in anattempt to counter the AFDI ads (Freed, J, 2012). The group plans to expand counter-ads in NewYork City, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Missouri (Freed, J, 2012).The Campaign of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) A Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR) is also responding. The council is placing 16-foot banners geared towards promotingmutual understanding and respect for the Muslim religion. The council hopes that the counter-ads will challenge the hateful ads placed by AFDI (Associated Press, 2012). The banners cite theQuran, reading, "Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant (Associated Press,
  20. 20. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 202012)." Posted in a blog post on the CAIR website, CAIR National Executive Director NihadAwad noted, "We hope, inshallah, to expand this anti-hate campaign in the nations capital andthroughout the nation. We need the communitys help to challenge the growing propagandacampaign of anti-Muslim hate in our society with positive messages of what Islam is and who wereally are (CAIR, 2012)." The Council on American Islamic Relations is Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization with offices around the country, defines its mission as "to enhanceunderstanding of Islam, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justiceand mutual understanding (ADL, 2006).” CAIR aims to continue a counter-ad campaign for thefollowing year and encourages other groups to help CAIR with balancing the negative speech bynot blocking it but by minimizing the harm (CAIR, 2012). Ibrahim Hooper, a representative fromthe Council on American Islamic Relations told WTOP-FM in a radio station interview that,"The answer to hate speech is not censorship. The answer to hate speech is more civil speechpromoting mutual understanding and tolerance (Silverberg, 2012).” In New York and across thecountry other groups continue to take action, such as a group of rabbis and Christian leaders whohave combined efforts in the fight against AFDI ads by utilizing counter-ads. The group’s adsread, "In the choice between love and hate, CHOOSE LOVE. Help stop bigotry against ourMuslim neighbors (Mathias, 2012).” While NGOs are using social media campaigns, protests, boycotts , and counter-ads toresponse to the AFDI ads, some individual dissentershave turned to vandalism in response to the campaignincluding, Journalist Mona Elthawy who was arrested for Source of Photo: Ohspray-painting the anti-jihad posters in the New York City subway Source of Photo: Oharea (Oh, 2012). While Eltahawy claims that her act of defacing of the subway ad and the
  21. 21. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 21subsequent tense physical struggle with the camerawoman standing in her way was a form ofnon-violent protest and an equivalent expression of free speech, the subway police did not agreeand Elthawy was arrested (Oh, 2012). In response, Elthawy posted the following Tweet onTwitter “I don’t do peace & love when it comes to racist & bigoted shits like Pam Geller & co.There r some who do. Move on & look elsewhere (Oh, 2012).” Acts of vandalism continue throughout the country where artists are removing words orspray painting over words or adding “HATESPEECH” on top of the ads to send a message toAFDI (Barrows-Friedman, 2012). In San Franciscofor example, bloggers and activists have becomeincreasingly involved with the fight against the AFDIads. Bloggers have actively written about the needfor the ads to be removed and have begun a Source of Photo: Mackeycampaign that fights the ads through editing or removing words from the ads on the Muni bussystem (Barrows-Friedman, 2012). One example shared by Robert Mackey, a New York Timesblogger, links to an activist’s Facebook page where the ad has been altered. The ad was changedto read, “In any war between the colonizer and the colonized, support the oppressed. Support thePalestinian right of return. Defeat racism (Mackey, 2012).” Nora Barrows-Friedman, a staffwriter for Intifada and contributor to Al-Jazeera posted on her blog the way artists throughoutSan Francisco are responding to the ads. According to Barrows-Friedman’s blog, anonymousartist’s wheat pasted over the ads with an image of a hand and a stamp with the words “HATESPEECH ((Barrows-Friedman, 2012).” Groups and individuals will continue to battle AFDI in
  22. 22. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 22cyber space and through peaceful protests given the large distaste in the public about thelanguage used by AFDI.Building Power in the Network against AFDI Ronfeldt and Aquilla shared in their research that in the current state, organizations willcontinue to utilize various communications vehicles to relay a specific message that persuadesand invites people to a larger global community. NGOs and civil society actors across the US arecoming together against AFDI and building a larger community based on a shared understandingto object “hate speech” utilized by AFDI. Through a powerful network of actors, NGOs and civilsociety have been able to escalate the conversation about whether or not the ads are “offensive”and what the implications of these ads may be here in the United States and abroad. If theirnetwork continues to grow stronger, more action may be taken to bring down AFDI ads acrossmajor US cities. Nevertheless, given the unique press system that the US has where freedom of speech isprotected, NGOs and civil society will continue to fight an uphill battle against AFDI on thismatter given that their ads have been protected under the First Amendment. AFDI has statedrepeatedly that the organization will continue to take legal action to protect its’ constitutionalright. In an interview with, AFDI Executive Director Pamela Geller argued, “We will pursue thisgross violation of our First Amendment rights” (Childress, 2012). Opposing actors will continueto raise the question about whether or not the language used by AFDI is “hate speech” in thehopes of calling to question the court’s rulings on the matter. Already, groups like CAIR aretrying to bring in politicians like Mayor Bloomberg to provide even more power to their network– urging people to sign a petition that would ask the Mayor to remove the ads (CAIR 2, 2012).
  23. 23. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 23 At this time, political figures are slowly sharing their feelings about the ads and utilizingtheir power to encourage constituents to boycott metro systems that are keeping the AFDI adsup. Representative Mike Honda from California explained, “The right to free speech is a right Iwill defend to my grave. These are rights, however, that come with great responsibility and Ihope that Americans will always use them responsibly. The right to not support hate speech isalso a right, which is why I encourage people to boycott (Greenwood, 2012).” RepresentativeHonda has asked other members of Congress to join him in changing the current outlook (Honda,2012). Representative Honda wrote in a blog featured on the Huffington Post, “Protecting freespeech is, without question, an essential cornerstone of this country, but so, too, is responsibility.Our founding fathers didnt fight for free speech so that Americans could proudly andvehemently use hate speech on each other, inciting fear of each other. This is not the Americathey helped build or foresaw for the future (Honda, 2012).” Debating whether or not to censorthe type of language used by AFDI is important to discuss – as the US system was designed toprotect even the most marginal viewpoints. Americans across the country are taking action tovoice their concern with the AFDI ads – from tweeting about it, to writing Letters-to-the Editor,to non-violent protests. The unique right to protect speech and freedom of expression in theUnited States is unique to this country alone; this is not the same approach in other democracies.The International Communication Challenge: American Advertising, Hate Speech, and theExplanation of Free Speech Abroad Numerous factors contribute to the negotiation of complex and controversial issues likecultural and religious differences through advertisements placed in American subways. Whetherdue to global migration, a rise in global social networks and global perspectives, or a growingemphasis on advancing ideas through public relations-based soft diplomacy, none of this would
  24. 24. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 24be possible without the unique discursive aspects of the American public sphere. Theconstitutional protection of each citizen’s right to free expression—established by the FirstAmendment and guided by Supreme Court interpretation of legal challenges testing thatprovision’s limits—is a legal right that sets this country apart from the rest of the world. Thiscase study is exemplary of Americans ability to say things through spoken word, text, andimages that would in other countries would result in imprisonment, exile, or even execution. Asthis greater latitude for controversial expression tends to attract extreme examples like theAFDI’s purported campaign against jihad – perceived by many as culturally divisive hate speech– the biggest international communication challenge facing the US hinges on finding a way toclearly convey to the world what free speech entails, why it is so passionately embraced here,and what value comes from letting everyone have their uncensored say no matter howobjectionable some may find the content of the speech of others. Free speech is a sufficiently tangled and nuanced area of study that innumerable scholarsof discourse, political science, and law have made lengthy careers out of attempting to synthesizeprecise answers to those same questions with slow progress. The case study at hand illustratesjust a few ways that free expression can quickly become difficult to explain on a world stage oreven understood domestically to laypeople not immersed in First Amendment history anddebates. The case study also confluents two important variables: it deals with political speechconveyed through commercial means; and the ads dance a fine line between defensibleexpression and outright hate speech, capable of inciting violence against a particular group ofpeople based on race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or culture. Hate speech that incites violence islegally restricted. Before addressing these two important facets of free speech as they relate tothe AFDI controversy, the next portion of this paper will review how and why public spaces like
  25. 25. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 25the transit systems of New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC are targeted bygroups like Geller’s through advertisements. Privatized transit ads are a communications vehicle that easily transmits messages into thepublic sphere. Privatized transit ads, like the ones financed by AFDI, are a form of out-of-home(OOH) advertising. Unlike radio or television ads, which typically reach consumers inside theirhomes, outdoor advertising like content found on billboards, buses, and benches are visible to alarger audience for a longer period of time. According to industry magazine Adweek, consumersspend more than 70 percent of their time outside the home, between commuting and working,running errands, and participating in other outdoor activities (“Immersing,” 2012). Whilebillboards are the most common form, transit ads comprise 17 percent of the total market(“Immersing,” 2012). Industry experts suggest that OOH advertising has also demonstratedstronger growth and greater impact than other forms of marketing over the past decade(“Immersing,” 2012). OOH advertising in train stations and on buses becomes even moreimportant when you consider the number of people who depend on public transit for their dailycommute. While the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey Report onCommuting in America found that only 5 percent of Americans use public transportation totravel to work each day compared to more than 74 percent who drive, those numbers aredisproportionately higher in dense metropolitan areas (McKenzie & Rapino, 2011). The Metrosystem, administered by the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), covers morethan 1,500 square miles and serves a population of over 5 million across Maryland, Virginia, andthe District (“Vital signs,” 2012). In FY 2011, the Metro system—including rail, bus, and MetroAccess—provided 344 million rides (“Vital Signs,” 2012). This adds up to a significant audiencefor ads placed within the web of public transportation. As the D.C. metro area has the second
  26. 26. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 26longest average commute time in the country at over 33 minutes, that audience is even moredesirable because it is generally captive (McKenzie & Rapino, 2011). There is little opportunityfor movement away from advertising messages without leaving the system and there is lesscompetition for passengers’ attention from other sources. While ads placed in the subway systemmay only reach commuters, ads placed on buses and in bus shelters have an even larger potentialaudience of pedestrians and drivers of private automobiles. WMATA’s Metro advertising is managed through CBS Outdoor. A subsidiary of the CBSCorporation, this global media company posts revenues of over 2 billion dollars worldwide byfocusing exclusively on OOH (“About,” 2012). Because pricing is contingent on so manyfactors, including location, average number of passersby, and more, it is impossible to estimatewhat AFDI has invested in order to place their ads across the Metro system. Metro accepts orrejects advertisers wishing to place ads within the system using a one-page set of guidelinesoriginally adopted in 1972 and updated in 2003. This document, known as “GuidelinesGoverning Commercial Advertising,” lays out a few key rules relevant to this project: 1) adsmust adhere to the local jurisdictional statutes across all three service areas whenever possible; 2)ads cannot be false, misleading, or deceptive; and 3) “advertisers shall avoid illustrations orreferences which disregard normal safety precautions” (“Guidelines,” 2003). This last guidelinelikely drove Metro’s decision to drag its feet in rolling out the campaign AFDI had purchasedand led to the subsequent court battle. As in the case study, advertisements are a type of speech that is either commercially-focusedor commercially-facilitated. While the AFDI campaign is clearly not designed to sell somethingoutright like cars or prescription drugs, it is still a persuasive attempt made possible through the
  27. 27. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 27exchange of money for the ability to post materials in a controlled public space. As such, it isregulated in the same way as other forms of commercial speech. Advertising, however, has not always enjoyed the privilege of free expression. As suggestedby Cohen (1978), language in the Supreme Court decision regarding the 1942 case of Valentinev. Chrestensen, a dispute over an anti-littering ordinance designed to circumvent handbilling,effectively classified commercial speech as fundamentally different from other forms and deniedit protection under the First Amendment. For the more than 30 years, this precedent was essentialin determining the practice and legal definition of the limits of free expression possible throughadvertising. In the mid-1970s, a series of Supreme Court rulings turned away from the standardset by the 1942 case. Two of those important cases, both of which had close ties to the Mid-Atlantic region, were Bigelow v. Virginia in 1975 and Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v.Virginia Citizens Consumer Council in 1976. The first case, a fight over whether an abortionservices ad published in a Virginia newspaper was subject to a local ban or qualified as protectedspeech, opened the door to the possibility of advertising falling under the umbrella of the FirstAmendment but placed a heavy emphasis on the provision of useful information and service ofthe public interest (Cohen, 1978). A year later, the second case, a battle over whether or notpharmacists should be able to include price information in ads, ushered in sweeping protectionsfor speech conveyed through advertisements. It is this precedent that informs the courts’ rulingsto protect AFDI’s legal right to use private ad space to sway public discourse. The other major gray area of free speech protections raised by the AFDI controversy is theissue of hate speech, as many read AFDI’s pro-Israel and anti-Jihadist positions as an overtattack on all Muslims and Islam. In American history, offensive speech has traditionally beengranted protection under the First Amendment, barring a direct incitement of violence. This is
  28. 28. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 28because interpretations of that constitutional right have typically assumed that any significantcensorship could jeopardize the tenet of free expression entirely. Instead of limiting hatefulspeech directly, scholarly understandings of free expression find balance in a kind of equilibriumsystem in which objectionable speech from one party, group, or individual is naturally counteredby a combination of oppositional speech and public outcry. Legal scholars trace the principle ofbelieving in the power of “more speech” back to judicial opinion in the 1927 case of Whitney v.California (Downing, 1999). Critics of this stance, sometimes called “First Amendmentabsolutism,” argue that framing the issue of free expression in these all-or-nothing terms isdangerous and shortsighted (Downing, 1999; Gelber, 2010). According to critics, allowing hatespeech protection under the First Amendment, there is no limit to escalating rhetoric, noopportunity for the kind of informed debate that inspired these protections in the first place, andno protection from global criticism of US free speech policies when inflammatory content isdistributed worldwide through seemingly borderless Internet networks. This is particularly true,as Gelber (2010) argued, when other liberal democracies like Canada, Australia, the UnitedKingdom, Germany, and other European nations have managed to uphold some semblance offree expression while simultaneously clamping down on objectionable and hateful speech. Itremains unclear whether or not the distinctly American interpretation of free speech will shifttoward evolving models in other nations on the issue of hate speech. Whatever the domesticposition will be in the future, international communications practitioners tasked with conveying aclear understanding of the American system will increasingly be required to contextualize thatstance in light of global expectations for what is appropriate and what is not or continue torespond to requests for censorship from outside groups that do not understanding the limitationsas they are currently defined.
  29. 29. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 29America’s Exceptional Speech Tradition Informs the Global Debate of Free Speech The discussion of AFDI has a domestic and global context. Domestically, recent U.S.Supreme Court rulings create the current precedent for dealing with controversial speech in theU.S. legal system. AFDI’s ad campaign also earns its place among other recent internationalevents that contribute to the global debate of free speech. These events show the way in whichmany governments continue to suppress dissenting speech, and in turn, how many networkedcitizens defy this suppression by speaking through alternative channels (particularly throughU.S.-owned Web avenues). In combining these analyses, this paper will see how globalizationhas led to an increase in cross-cultural conflict and a heightened debate in free-speech rightsaround the world. Perhaps the most popular recent cases of media controversy are those surrounding thelow-budget film and Youtube trailer “The Innocence of Muslims.” While the nations mentionedpreviously have ideological reason for censorship within their communistic frameworks, thefollowing democracies interestingly suppress certain speech in order to prevent backlash beforeit begins. Brazils government ordered the arrest of the country’s Google president Fabio JoseSilva Coelho for his refusal to remove the video portraying the Prophet Mohammed fromYoutube. When the French magazine Charlie Hebdo published crude caricatures of the prophetin order to mock the controversy of the video and its resulting violence as a whole, the Frenchgovernment asked chief editor Gerard Biard to remove the cartoons. Although Biard legallyrefused, the French government then banned any protests against the cartoons (New York Times,1). Although the press was not censored in this case, the government outlawed a form of publicspeech, showing that censorship remains a viable option for the French government.
  30. 30. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 30 Other states have recently restricted speech in cases not involved with this YouTubevideo. For example, Cuba arrested a group of 75 governmental dissidents, including popularblogger Yoani Sanchez, who recently became a delegate for the Inter American PressAssociation. The dissidents had gone to a police station in Havana to inquire about others whohad been arrested for governmental opposition and to call for their immediate release(Washington Post, 1). This demonstrates the way in which Cuban governmental officials assumethe right to silence dissidents through imprisonment without formal charge. Other reports showhow the current Castro-regime has a zero-tolerance policy for requests of free speech anddemocracy. As another example, China has a legacy of not only suppressing speech that opposesthe communist party, but also paying thousands of commentators who pose as ordinary Webusers to write pro-government materials. Recently, the Chinese government censored Twitter byhacking into the website and disabling the accounts of popular political commentators ahead ofthe Chinese Communist elections. The government has even admitted to training a force ofcyber-hackers called the “Blue Army,” who specialize in national defense but also suppresscontroversial voices (Policy Mic, 1). This shows that while digital mediums allow for greateraccess and distribution of dissenting opinions, censorship techniques also increase and allow fornew forms of suppression. From these examples, we see that governmental suppression of speech continues tohinder the global market place of ideas within both democracies and communist regimes. AsManuel Castells notes, “The state remains a critical actor in defining power relationships throughcommunication networks... by criminalizing unhindered communication and prosecuting themessenger” (Castells, 264). Whether in communist China or democratic France, most nation-
  31. 31. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 31states assume the right to limit the public sphere in order to prevent political backlash and/orpublic violence. Despite these restrictions, modern media phenomena increasingly reveal governmentalinabilities to limit speech, regardless of the form of government. The recent emergence of e gaoInternet spoofs in China provides a telling example of this phenomenon. These subliminal formsof political commentary often mock institutions by taking advantage of the transformativecapabilities of digital media to portray them through humor, revelry, subversion or grassrootsspontaneity (Meng, 34, 35) For example, some e gao spoofs used material from the popularHollywood film “The Matrix” along with the Soviet film “Lenin in 1918” to scrutinizecorruption in China and the war in Iraq (Meng, 37) This form of messaging works as a defianceof authority, because while the government may attempt to limit this speech, its below-the-surface commentary often proves too subliminal to restrict. Therefore, the ‘Great Firewall’ ofChina proves insufficient to fully block controversial speech in China because sooner or later,dissenting opinions find a way to squeeze through the cracks. When speech from a foreign nationseems too controversial for its particular public sphere, however, U.S. publication often becomesa viable alternative. Continuing with China as an example, The New York Times recentlypublished an op-ed titled, “Unwelcome at the Party,” written by Chinese author Wang Lixongwho denounces China’s Communist Party for asking his wife to leave Beijing because of the up-coming coronation of new party leaders. He writes, “I have replied to State Security that a partyconclave is no reason to disperse a family. They, in turn, threatened that if I refused to leave,things would become uncomfortable for me” (New York Times, 2). Here, we see that the free-speech policies of the U.S. provide a platform for foreigners to voice opinions that would becensored under different governments. Interestingly, The New York Times has a substantial
  32. 32. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 32global audience; therefore many Chinese citizens more than likely read this article, despite itsdenouncement of the Chinese government. This analysis demonstrates the unique quality of U.S. free-speech policy against thebackdrop of international censorship, which further illustrates the popular notion of AmericanExceptionalism. While both authoritarian regimes and democratic governments continue torestrict dissenting opinions around the globe, the U.S. holds the most “free” standards in order todiversify and strengthen the market-place of ideas as much as possible. If the U.S. beginslimiting speech by the AFDI or any other organization that borders on hate-speech, our publicsphere will shrink in its scope by criminalizing voices of dissenting opinion. Time and timeagain, our Supreme Court upholds the right of citizens to say the most controversial, upsettingand denigrating statements, so long as this speech does not incite violence, inflict extremeemotional distress or cross the line of obscenity. As an extreme example of defended hate-speech, members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral of fallen U.S. soldierMatthew Snyder who was killed in the Iraq war. Church protestors held up sings that said Snyderwould “Burn in hell” and that God “hated” him, but when Snyder’s family tried to sue thechurch, the U.S. Supreme Court defended their right to picket (Snyder v Phelps, 5-9). From this,we see that America provides the highest freedom for speech, even when that speech hasmalicious intent and increases controversy or unrest in society. In the age of globalization, othernations have begun utilizing this freedom through Web avenues. Although this may increasecross-cultural conflict, our public sphere continues to provide a foundation for dissentingopinions, alternative viewpoints and controversial ad-campaigns.
  33. 33. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 33Conclusion The study of AFDI’s ad campaign lent exploration into the complexity of America’s freespeech tradition in a globalized world, where no country, however influential, is exempt frominternational criticism and participation in the global debate on free speech. America’s freespeech tradition and multicultural citizenship makes the country a unique and unprecedentedbattleground not only for diaspora and religious perspectives, but also the very existence of thediscursive public sphere that America’s free speech tradition has helped to create and protect.Individuals, NGOs, and other interest groups are free to use various communications channels –on the internet and on the street – to project their messages and perspectives. AFDI’s campaign is as controversial as it is exemplary of America’s unique position onfreedom of expression – a tradition that sets it apart from any other country in the world. Only inAmerica can any individual, group, or entity with the means to buy OOH advertising use it forpolitical or personal gain, regardless of how controversial the language of the ad or risk it mightpresent to national image or security. And, only in America can this space be used byorganizations to debate ideological differences and perspectives that affect national andinternational discourse. America’s free speech tradition protects even the most marginalized perspectives, regardlessof how controversial or offensive that perspective might seem to other groups or oppositional tomajority opinion. AFDI proves that organizations and individuals in America can use their easyaccess to ICTs to further their cause, while leveraging globalized communications vehicles liketransit ads to extend the impact of their campaigns on discourse in America and around theworld.
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  38. 38. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 38Moscow, Jon. (2012, September 12). JAI Condemns Ads Promoting Hate and Anti-Muslim Bigotry. Jews Against Islamphobia. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://www.jewsagainstislamophobia. org/?p=412Oh, Inae. (2012, September 27). Mona Eltahawy Arrested For Spray-Painting Anti-Jihad Subway Poster. The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from 2012/09/26/mona-eltahawy-arrested-for-spray-painting-anti-jihad-subway- poster_n_1915832.html“Prophet Muhammad” by Stephane Charbonnier. The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from publishes-cartoons-mocking-muhammad.html?_r=0Raboy, M. (2004). The WSIS as a political space in global media governance. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 18(3), 345-359.Reisman, Will. (2012, August 14). ‘Savage’ ads stir debate. San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from, D. & Arquilla, J. (1999/2007). The Promise of Noopolitik. First Monday, 12(8). Retrieved November 10, 2012, from article/view/1971/1846Silverberg, Hank. (2012, October 8). Anti-Muslim ad creates more controversy. WTOP. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from creates-more-controversy-Sinclair, J. (2004). Globalization, supranational institutions and the media. In J. D. H. Downing (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of media studies (pp. 65-82). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.“Six things to know about attack that killed Ambassador Stevens” (2012). Retrieved November 10, 2012, from about-attack-that-killed-ambassador-stevens/Snyder v. Phelps (2011) The U.S. Supreme Court. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from New York times (Sept. 19, 2012) “French Magazine Runs Cartoons That Mock
  39. 39. GROUP 2: AFDI: FREEDOM OF SPEECH 39The Washington Post (Nov. 9, 2012) “Cuban police briefly detain group of dissedents” Retrieved from group-of-dissidents-including-blogger-yoani-sanchez/2012/11/09/9cca8e24-2a7d-11e2- aaa5-ac786110c486_story.htmlThussu, D. K. (2006). Approaches to theorizing international communication. International Communication: Continuity and Change (pp. 40-65). USA: Bloomsbury.Thussu, D. K. (2009). International communication: A reader. London, UK: Routledge.Tucker, Eric. (2012, October 6). DC transit system must allow anti-jihad ads; says ads must be posted by Monday evening. Associated Press. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://bigstory., Tony. (2012, October 16). New Metro Ads Protest Hate Speech. NBC4 Washington. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from Metro-Ads-174184471.htmlVital signs report: A scorecard of Metro’s key performance indicators (KPI) 2012 second quarter results (2012, August). Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://www.wmata. com/about_metro/scorecard/documents/Vital_Signs_%20August%202012%20QTR%202 .pdfWaisboard, S. (2004). Media and the reinvention of the nation. In J. D. H. Downing (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of media studies (pp. 375-389). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Weiser, Benjamin. (2012, July 20). M.T.A. Violated Rights of Group, Judge Says. New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from judge-says.html