September 28, 2012

The Sept. 25 editorial “An offensive ad’s right to offend” thoughtfully supported the constitutional right of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) to place ads on Metro trains. The ads encourage the support of Israel and the defeat of jihadism.

In the United States, we have a constitutional right to freedom of speech, even though some speech might offend. Determining who is civilized and who is “savage,” as judged by the AFDI, can be a matter of one’s perspective.

Can we expect advertisements next June recognizing the 46th anniversary of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty, a Navy technical research ship operating in the eastern Mediterranean in 1967? In that savage and uncivilized attack, 34 Americans were killed and 171 seriously injured.

Yes, we must support our right to freedom of speech. But we must consider the source and the circumstances, because many ignorant and misguided people can freely say what they think, no matter how inaccurate their words or whom they hurt. 

Jon C. McKenzie, Fairfax

As a middle-school civics teacher, I understand the argument made in the editorial about the ad that Metro has delayed running. Freedom of speech is a protected and valuable right in our country, and censorship should be exerted only in cases where another’s civil liberty or safety are compromised.

Unfortunately, the editorial neglected to directly address Metro’s argument that it delayed the ad’s placement to protect public safety. At a time of chaos and war, such an ad would surely enrage our enemies and dishearten our allies in the Muslim world. Metro cannot recklessly endanger the lives of its patrons and go against legal precedent that says free speech is not more important than the safety of citizens.

Further, if the wording of the ad were reversed and read, “Support Jihad. Defeat Israel,” does anyone doubt there would be zero chance the ad would be approved?

Colin Saba, Emmitsburg, Md.