SEPTA loses fight to bar anti-Islam ads from buses

by Bobby Allyn

March 12, 2015

Ads linking Islam to Hitler may soon be seen on city buses around Philadelphia following a federal judge’s ruling that the group behind the ad campaign is protected by free speech.

Ryan Tack-Hooper, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations Pennsylvania, said though he thinks the ads are false and hateful, SEPTA can’t argue with the Constitution.

“SEPTA’s in a tough spot because people want to see them fight this, but at the same time, we don’t want to have SEPTA damaging the First Amendment,” Tack-Hooper said. “This is not about SEPTA giving in. I think they’ve already gone above the call of duty by fighting this in the district court.”

Tack-Hooper said it’s not unlike allowing Nazi groups to march, or letting the Klu Klux Klan organize a public speech.

“One of the virtues of free speech is that bad ideas get expressed, and when we counter those bad ideas with knowledge and education, the people who previously might have harbored those ideas have the opportunity to reconsider,” Tack-Hooper said.