Wrong Answer

The nation’s largest mass transit system is preparing to ban all political advertising on its subways and buses after a judge ruled that a pro-Israel group was allowed to display an advertisement containing the phrase “Hamas Killing Jews” on New York City buses.

New York City’s MTA is afraid that some such advertising would incite violence. Its answer, then, is to do its part to stifle free speech completely.

No. The right answer is to work toward the goal that violence isn’t the answer to unpleasant, or even incendiary, speech. Stifling speech just does even more violence. Words don’t force people into violence; they do that, as they do anything, of their own volition.

Loud disagreement, zealously put, is the noisiness of democracy. It’s the inherent noisiness of free speech. It’s the noisiness of a free people. What’s to be afraid of in that?

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