Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Dear Pamela Geller, If Someone Rips Down Or Otherwise Defaces The Disgusting Racist Advertisements You Have Won The Legal Right To Display In New York Subway Stations, I Will Not Know Anything About How That Might Have Happened

We've never met. My name's Dave. I don't know much about you personally, but from what I have read about you, and from watching you talk on TV about the proposal two years ago to build a mosque five blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood, your public persona is one that makes me ashamed to be American and Jewish and a human being alive in the 21st century who has the letters "a" and "r" in his name. Because those two letters are also in your name.

You and the organization you lead, the American Freedom Defense Organization, recently won a law suit forcing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to accept and display advertising posters you made and submitted to hung on the walls inside New York City subway stations. The posters read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

Congratulations on your legal victory. Ten of your posters are scheduled to go up next week.

It's hardly worth going into why I find the posters disturbing. You know why I do. You know they are disgusting and offensive. That's why you used the word "savage" in an argument about politics and religion, why you juxtaposed it with "civilized man." I don't think you're stupid. (You were the associate publisher of the New York Observer from 1989 to 1994. Again, we've never met. But I wouldn't think that's a job for a stupid person.)

So you've chosen to espouse hatred and incite rage in the subway stations of the city. The city where we both live. The city where I ride the subways with my kid, who is seven. The MTA originally balked, for easily understandable reasons, but the MTA operates under a lease with the city, which has to allow everybody equal access to its public advertising space. And since the courts decided that your message in its wording was protected under First Amendment Rights, here we are. Auspicious timing, too, with all the craziness in Arab countries over the Innocence of Muslims movie and the new cartoons in the French magazine. Your contribution to the kind of paranoia and hysteria that so often leads to violence is appreciated.

What should someone like myself do? I don't usually advocate vandalism or the destruction of other peoples' property. (Not even Bon Jovi's.) But in this instance, I think that it might be the right move. What's the fine for getting caught ripping an advertisement off the wall of a subway station? Fifty bucks? A hundred? Is it different if you can't get the whole poster down, so you just have to take your housekey and scrape until the words "savage" and "civilized" and "Israel" and "Jihad" are no longer legible? Maybe the two Stars of David that adorn the poster should go, too. Because they wouldn't look nice there next to all the scraped-up, torn-up paper. They don't look so nice there next to all the hatred as it is.

Mind you, I'm not saying that I will enact this sort of vigilante justice myself. I try to break as few laws as I can. Sometimes I have pot in my pockets. All I'm saying is that it would be a shame if something like that were to happen to any or every single one of the ten posters you plan to put up. The city's a dangerous place for bigoted posters.

You know what? On second thought, it would not be a shame. It would be better for everyone. The heading of this letter is misleading. If someone rips down or otherwise defaces your posters, Pam Geller, I may well know how it happened. Because if I see any of these posters, I'm going to do it. I promise.

47 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#1,720)

Pretty much any time you use the word "savage" without having been hurled through time Land of the Lost style, you've lost the moral high ground.

What about Fred?

@Reginal T. Squirge Any time you talk about Fred Savage without having been born Danica McKellar you have lost the moral high ground.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@deepomega Not to mention, when you follow that up by occupying the land of the said "savage" and strip him of his human rights, and then go half way around the world to a place that oh-just-happens to have the worlds most powerful military to look for support for those "morals" you supposedly were after.

Glad to see an anti-public apology. I've missed the originals so much.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Reginal T. Squirge Agreed. Taking others to task. Maybe it's the first of many Public Anti-Apologies.

esposars3r (#238,089)

Thank you

Ten whole posters? Way to splurge, AFDO! It's the fucking Where's Waldo? of ad campaigns.

hershmire (#233,671)

Any minute now those Palestinians are going to give up. Yep, any minute now.

SkinnyNerd (#224,784)

I do not know about this. Although I think this ad is disgusting and vile, I believe in freedom of speech (freedumb of speech?) so much that I think doing something like this only gives her message a megaphone. I think this is the equivalent of arguing with an idiot. Just let her stupidity shine. Let the world see her vulgarity. Feel free to make a comment about the ad when you pass by it. But please do not resort to shutting people up even if what they have to say is utterly repugnant. Remember that thinking people are far outnumbered in all societies and if we start tearing down other people's messages, they will likely do the same to ours. Wow, and that website of hers.

Megoon (#201,547)

@SkinnyNerd I believe in freedom of speech, but I don't believe that the city has an obligation to display it. Particularly when that speech is designed to inflame psychos and paint a target sign on a heavily populated, difficult-to-evacuate area as a place for said psychos to direct their rage.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@SkinnyNerd I want to disagree and I can because this is a thread. One difference between someone speaking racist garbage and a billboard advertising racist garbage is that anyone within earshot of racist garbage can disagree politely or say "shut the fuck up racist". An advertisement in public doesn't receive opposing views, so vandalism seems like a fair push-back. That said, I think I'd prefer to have them put up and definitely vandalized/defaced rather than being stifled or intimidated into not being put up at all. Let direct action take care of it, not due process.

friday99 (#22,840)

@SkinnyNerd well said.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

I think you need to revisit your impressions of the Observer.

Somerville (#238,091)

Or we can count the minutes until somebody defaces the poster with a cartoon cock and balls.

Paul B@twitter (#13,135)

It's really upsetting when you're the kind of person who supports Israel so much that you left home in NY and moved there and is Jewish and religious, but also understand that the most repeated phrase in the torah is "Welcome the stranger in your midst because you were strangers in the land of Egypt" and want the Palestinian people to have their own land and freedoms and democracy full of idiots who put up terrible posters in their train stations and instead the people who manage to be the loudest are just spending their time and money enraging enemies and reducing a nuanced conflict to name calling.

*standing applause* THANK YOU!!!!

“Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Countries ✓.
“Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Towns ✓.
“Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Neighbourhoods ✓.
“Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Schools✓.
“Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Anything ✓.
“Anti-Racists” say there should be no White children.

“Anti-Racists” haven’t told asian children in Asia or African children in Africa that THEY must be blended out of existence to “end racism”. No No No! This special type of GLOBAL GENOCIDE is limited only to WHITE CHILDREN.

Anti-Racist is a code word for Anti-White.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Linux Lewis@facebook okay troll, I'll bite: I have never heard an "Anti-Racist" say any of those things. Also, did you make up your own special type of global genocide? That's messed up. Your racist/pro-white ideas are based on fear and lies.

C_Webb (#855)

@Linux Lewis@facebook So if we're anti-racist AND white AND (happen to) have white children …?

@C_Webb THEN YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Buy some motivational posters and watch "Rudy." [if that doesn't make you racist nothing will]

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Linux Lewis@facebook Hi troll, I'll bite too: I haven't heard of an African or an Asian country that has a problem with a huge influx of white immigrants, but I'm sure if they did they'd be pushing back against it, and I'm sure if they did they'd be checked for racism too. You on the other hand, appear to be arguing that racism doesn't have anything to do with circumstances, but is instead something that's simply in white people's nature (and thus they shouldn't be faulted for it), which as anti-white thing as anything I ever heard.

John P (#238,099)

It takes a special kind of arrogance to cloak criminal mischief, destruction of property and censorship with supposed moral indignation.

C_Webb (#855)

@John P He's not "cloaking" anything. Cloaking means disguising or concealing. Dave is coming right out and saying he wants to do this. It's that whole freedom of speech thing, you know? Or is that freedom only for racists?

Dave Bry (#422)

Thanks for writing, John.
Well, I guess I have to cop to having that precise kind of arrogance. At least in some respects. I do believe that criminal mischief and destruction of property are in certain instances morally justifiable. Even morally preferable, I guess. Although I don't like the thought of cloaking myself in anything. And I get confused quickly talking about "morality." I have an easier time thinking in terms of ethics. (Like Johnny Caspar in "Miller's Crossing.") The censorship issue is the hardest part of this for me. Generally, I am opposed. I like free speech an awful lot. But these posters really tested that for me. The thought of seeing them there on the wall in a subway station, where advertisements are so inescapable, and so in-your-face, where you're packed in a crowd of hustling, bustling, already agitated people—it really started to take on a screaming-fire-in-a-crowded-theater thing for me. Not ALL free speech should be protected. Freedom of speech is high on my list of things that get near a state of absolute good. But more important than that, I think, is the truth that there is no such thing as absolute good. So, sometimes, yes, better to shut someone up. As ugly as that sounds. But that's copping all the way to your accusation. Which I probably should do for argument's sake. But a big part of me dodges it a bit, and thinks about it like, Well, if Pamela Geller the right to put those words on a poster in a subway in our shared city, then I have the right to tear it down. The moral or ethical right, I mean. I know I will be breaking the law.

nonvolleyball (#9,329)

@John P it takes a special kind of arrogance to refrain from using a serial comma when doing so would enhance clarity.

John P (#238,099)

@C_Webb OK, you got me. I should have used a better word or phrase. I'm not arguing against Dave's freedom to say what he said. I'm arguing against the actions he is promising to take. Get the difference? He can say what he wants to whomever he wants but no amount of justification in the world changes the fact that the actions he proposes, however legitimate his argument attempts to make them, cross the line. It's censorship.

Let's say someone finds my face disgusting, revoting even. They are welcome to say it out loud, proclaim it to the world. However, if they pull out some spray paint and cover my face using the argument that "most everyone else" finds my face hideous would you support them?

I'm very sure I didn't suggest that freedom of speech is only for racists, don't get me wrong I have no love for Ms. Geller. You can protest, petition the city, try to get the law changed, put up your own ads showing what a callous bitch she is, whatever. There are many ways for you to challenge what she is saying without going down that slippery slope where you get to decide what is appropriate for us to see because you have the moral support of the majority. That leads to the majority deciding what is appropriate for us to wear, who we can associate with, what we do in our free time, what is OK to say, celebrate, you name it!

I don't want to grow up in that world.

Dave Bry (#422)

@John P
I realize that I am on a slippery slope. And that should I take physical action to destroy these posters, I will be crossing a line that I'm not entirely comfortable in crossing. But in certain situations, words people are forced to see or hear become dangerous. The old yelling "fire" in a crowded theater again. This is a situation that I think at least veers in that direction, for reasons cited above. It has nothing to do with what most everyone else thinks, or having the moral support of the majority. At least my action, I mean. I'm much more concerned about the minority: a lone woman in purdah, a lone man in tuban, a lone crazy person who might explode, let's hope not literally, into violence. (I'm guessing that with references to a majority, you're envisioning a situation wherein my actions were allowed to stand, and maybe one wherein I would not be punished.) What if I was to admit that the action was wrong, but that I was committed to taking it in this instance because it happens to be one of the times when two wrongs (1. Geller's verbal, potentially violence-inciting attack and 2. my censorship of her words) add up to a right? A safer subway system, one less likely to offend people to a point that reaches real fear-and-intimidation tactics. I'll pay the fine if I get caught.

I also think it's important to note the different and special designation of advertising when we consider this, as the not-Banksy quote does a better job of getting at that I'd thought of before.

Again, I appreciate your careful reading and thinking and writing about this, John. (And I have a very hard time believing that anyone could ever find your face disgusting or revolting.)

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Dave Bry A Time To Rip, with Samuel L. Jackson as Dave Bry. 'Nuff said.

John P (#238,099)

@Dave Bry – I've heard this argument again and again but I think it's a stretch to equate this situation will yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre.

A fire in a crowded theatre is pretty much universally understood to be an emergency situation posing the threat of imminent injury, potentially death. I'd argue that most people's reaction to such a situation would be the same, save yourself, get out, and is predictable and understandable. This creates a potentially dangerous situation as people a) scramble to leave a confined space because the fire is real, b) scramble to leave a confined space even through the fire is not real, or, should false alarms occur with a certain frequency, c) stay put as people have become desensitized to the threat – a dangerous situation in the case of a real fire. We're willing to accept the level of danger of a) because the alternative is many times worse, it's b) and c) that result in justifiable infringements on our right to free speech. As you said, not ALL free speech should be free. I differentiate between fearing for my life and being offended.

The potential for a similar reaction to a dozen offensive posters being posted in public in support of one side of a conflict doesn't measure up. Sure, in certain situations it may "veer in this direction" but the underlying reason for that veering is unacceptable to me, namely the sensitivities of a small number of people in our society. Just to be clear, that is what you are talking about here? If so, it's very different than the fear of imminent death! If I condone your actions against Geller's posters I submit to that violent behavior and quite simply, I refuse to do that.

I referred to the majority because you used the words "It (your actions) would be better for everyone" so yes, I did assume your actions would be allowed to stand.

In the end I can't argue with the simple fact that your actions are your choice and if you accept the consequences there isn't much I can do to stop you. Same goes for the people who's violence you are trying to prevent. Seems to me nobody is talking about that. So I'll just say this; pacifying the minority who pose the risk of violence by justifying the actions you've threatened is not better for everyone in the long run. I'm a loving, peaceful guy who wants my children to live in a world less hateful than the one I was born into. I believe with all my being that protecting our rights, no matter how offensive the outcome may be, is more important than protecting the sensitivities of some people in order to reach that goal.

astrangerinthealps (#178,808)

@Dave Bry I appreciate–seriously–what you're saying about the danger this inflammatory speech poses in a confined public environment like the subway. I think Pam Geller is a pustule on the ass of democracy and this makes me want to post nude cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on the sidewalk outside her house–hey, it's just speech!–to see how she likes it. But I still think that by censoring her scummy posters you're letting the terrorists, you know, win. 

Instead of scratching something out, what about fighting her speech with more speech–right on her poster? A nice fat red Sharpie should get the message across without obscuring any of her hateful words. No, it doesn't stop a lone crazy from taking offense and doing something lone and crazy, but even if we could stop all the lone crazies we can't let them run our lives. 

Dave Bry (#422)

@John P Well argued. You might be right. Protecting the right to free speech is important to me, too. But so that I'm clearer: The bettering of the world for everyone that I'm imagining goes in two directions: 1) Lessening the chances that an already angry, fearful, group (or "mob") of non-Muslim subway riders might be spurred into bad action—violence or the intimation thereof—by being forced to see the word "savages" in a small space where there also might be a man in a turban or a woman in purdah. 2) Yes, the hope that ridding a subway station the unavoidable slur might pacify potential Jihadis within the offended community. Is this aspect folding on my defense of the principle of free speech out of fear? "Letting the terrorists win," so to speak? Maybe there is a bit of that. But you know what, I'll take it—my commitment to principle is perhaps weaker than yours. Has been weakened, I think, by the existence of my kid in the world. And the combination of the two potential directions of betterment that I see outweigh the principal of protecting our rights in this instance. (Here's where I feel the slope beneath my feet the slipperiest.) But, also, and, frankly, the power dynamics that I see coming into play: The fact that the Pam Gellers of the world have the upper hand over those she's calling "savages," and have held it for quite a long time, influences my thinking—pushing me up or the down the hill, depending on one's perspective.

Now, about you calling me arrogant at the start of all this: How DARE you??!!

Just kidding. It's been nice typing with you, John.

John P (#238,099)

@Dave Bry – My apologies for the arrogant comment, it was the third glass of scotch and probably not the best choice of words.

Dave Bry (#422)

@John P Thanks. No problem. Here's to three glasses of scotch.

friday99 (#22,840)

eew. on so many levels. eew.

Danzig! (#5,318)

Do it. And then steal one of those insane Dr. Zizmor posters from a subway car and have it framed on your wall. I've always meant to do that but I haven't found one in an empty car yet.

Not a bad time to quote some Banksy:
"Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.
You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.’

Dave Bry (#422)

@Daniel Burr Littlewood Oh, that's very good! Thank you!

John P (#238,099)

@Daniel Burr Littlewood Sean Tejaratchi said it first. Banksy used it without credits, and the world picked it up as his. Besides that, he was talking about reusing and reprinting the ads, not vandalizing them.

Nonvolleyball, thanks for pointing out the missing comma.

@Dave Bry Now to buy some stencils.

@John P Thanks for the heads up. Crap Hound is pretty rad, didn't know about the lack of attribution. Speaking of which, for anyone else who was as confused as I was:

I think someone should make stickers in the approximate size and shape of "savage" but with the words "Pamela Geller" . The utility of such a thing is obvious.

I'm really confused…no one can seem to tell me what race Islam is?? I've been trying to find out for years.

JaysKat (#238,325)

I don't understand what's wrong with the posters. They're not saying "Defeat Islam" – they're saying "Defeat Jihad". And, you say they're racist, but you also say you don't like the posters because you ride the subway with your kid and your afraid some Islamic extremist is going to demand retribution for the posters against their Jihad by waging Jihad against the subway while you're on it with your kid, which is kinda racist of you to assume a terrorist is just going to be a terrorist…

John P (#238,099)

@JaysKat Now you're just yelling "Allah Akbar" in a crowded theatre.

David Lang (#238,682)


Ms Pamela Geller is the woman responsible for the terrible pro-Israel, anti-Islam subway ads with the following text:
Ms Pamela Geller,
Ignorance is a state of being uninformed or lack of knowledge and information about something. Ignorance is distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to ‘unwise’ acts. Individuals with superficial knowledge of a topic or subject may be worse off than people who know absolutely nothing. As Charles Darwin observed, "ignorance more frequently begets more confidence than does knowledge."
Pamela, we truly sympathize with you for your ignorance about the real meaning of the word ‘Savage’. And to manifest this sympathy we want, as your ‘well-wishers’, to give you give a piece of advice.
With all sincerity we think you need to go back to school to learn the real definition of the word ‘Savage’ and also to learn the World History of the recent times. The school environment, we hope, will be conducive to your unhindered learning and it will also clear the cobwebs that have been developed by your unwarranted, excessive hatred for Islam and Muslims.
But before you take the decision of going back to school, here is a bit of homework for you. If you do this homework with an open, unbiased mind you will find yourself in a much better state to understand the actual meaning of the word ‘SAVAGE’, what constitutes savagery and who the real ‘Savages’ are on this planet of ours.
Here is the first assignment of your Homework:
Throughout the years since the establishment of Zionism, various actions were and are being implemented, even as you read this, towards the expulsion and extinction of Palestinians throughout Palestine and neighboring Arab countries. These actions include, but are by no means limited to, mass killing of hundreds of innocent men, women and children. Below are some of the massacres committed by Zionist murderers or their allies against Palestinians. It is by no means exhaustive, but they reflect the nature of the Zionist occupation of Palestine and show that massacres and expulsions were not aberrations that could happen in any war, but organized atrocities with one sole aim – creation and survival at any cost, of a Zionist state, Israel.
Pamela, your task here is to go through the accounts of these massacres and judge for yourself who the real ‘Savages’ are.
If you do not label these massacres as savagery then there is definitely a very sinister motive in your hate-campaign.
Now here is the second assignment of your homework. Please answer these questions after doing a thorough research.
Who started the First World War?
Who started the Second World War?
Who sent the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Who killed more than 100 million Indians in North America?
Who killed more than 50 million Indians in South America?
Who was responsible for the Vietnam War and the Korean War which had casualty figures of millions of civilians?
Who killed more than two million people in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Who killed about 20 million Aborigines in Australia?
Pamela, you will have to agree with us that the above atrocities and many more of such kind were not committed by Muslims. Muslims were, in fact, victims of savagery in a number of the above mentioned cases.
How can you then label Muslims as savages?
If you are doing all this for material gains and to gain some cheap publicity then it is hardly surprising. We have done some research about you and have uncovered some amazing facts and figure about you. Given below are some of them

 You are Pamela Geller, aka Pamela G. Oshry, and your ex-husband Michael Oshry died of an alleged heart attack in 2008.
 You have amassed enormous wealth including a $4-million divorce settlement, a $5-million life insurance on the death of your ex-husband and a portion of the $2-million sale of the Hewlett Harbor home you jointly owned with Oshry. All of which allows you to live in luxury on an entire floor of upper Eastside condo.
 You co-owned, with your late ex-husband, a large Long Island car dealership which operated a scam allowing buyers to purchase cars using fraudulent identities. Such a scam is perfect for organized crime and others seeking to use cars in the commission of felonies. In fact, one such vehicle was used by a former car salesman to murder two New York City police officers. An employee who discovered the scam was murdered execution-style.
 You have a $10 million defamation lawsuit pending against you, brought by the family of Ms Fahima Rifqa Bary, a teenage girl torn from her Muslim-American family by Christian evangelicals (Pastor Blake Lorenzo and his wife, Beverly) who enticed her into converting to Christianity and running away from their home while still a minor. You, out of your deep-rooted animosity towards Islam, have made common cause with those Christian evangelicals.
 We have been given to understand that you are suffering from a variety of serious mental disorders. One of them is psychopathy (a severe personality disorder marked by aggressive, violent, antisocial thought and behavior and a lack of remorse or empathy). You have no clear sense of truth or even objective reality.
 You are also suffering from narcissism (a personality disorder characterized by the patient's overestimation of his or her own appearance and abilities and an excessive need for admiration).
 We are also told that you are void of the notion that you could ever be wrong about anything. Anyone who is against you is not just wrong, but becomes a mortal enemy in a life and death struggle between good and evil. You, of course, represent good and the rest of the world, evil.

Since we believe in peaceful coexistence, we end this letter with a prayer for you: May God grant you total relief from all your mental disorders and may He also grant you the true understanding of Islam.
Peaceful Citizens of the World.

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