People with cool, provocative political messages will have to save it for their bumper stickers. As of today, political ads on Muni buses and trains are are prohibited, ABC 7 reports, following a unanimous vote yesterday by the SFMTA board of directors. That brings the city into line with most of its peers.
Specifically, per the board of directors meeting, the amended advertising policy will "prohibit advertisements concerning a political or public issue, containing profanity or violent descriptions or images, are intended to be insulting, degrading, disparaging, demeaning or offensive, are reasonably likely to be harmful or disruptive to the SFMTA’s transit system, encourage or depict unsafe transit behavior or are adverse to the interests of the SFMTA, effective April 5, 2017."
Ads that fall into this category will include the kind of Islamophobic, pro-Israel signs that are frequently paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, drawing a steady stream of criticism whenever they appear. Speaking to Breitbart News, that Initiative's president, Pamela Geller, said "San Francisco really is the last city where the ‘Geller ban’ is not in affect," taking credit for bans on political ads for most public transit systems. In September, Geller launched the below ads, calling a ban on her ads "a ban on the truth."
Mayor Lee registered his approval for the SFMTA rule change. "I think they can be so hurtful to lots of people,"Lee tells ABC 7, "I've seen some of the graphics and I shake my head." SMH, SFMTA.
For her part, Geller is threatening to sue — she just submitted an ad last week, she says. "It is shocking to me that San Francisco, which is the left-wing mecca of radical liberalism, is moving towards shutting down free speech."
Wait, is being "the left wing mecca of radical liberalism" supposed to be good, or bad?
The SFMTA, the seventh largest public transit system in the US, authorizes ads on SFMTA facilities and property from trolley cars to buses. Existing rules already prohibit ads concerning "a declared political candidate or ballot measure scheduled for consideration by the voters in an upcoming election or an initiative petition submitted to the San Francisco Department of Elections."