News & Politics

GASLIGHTING: NYC Transit Authority Says Gross Ads Are Not Sexually Inappropriate or Political

(Twitter screenshot)

After a PJ Media exclusive story about outraged New Yorkers ripping down sexually graphic ads for the dating site OK Cupid went viral, the Metropolitan Transit Authority reached out to provide us with a statement and their standards for ads on NYC’s transport system. The statement from Deputy Communications Director Eugene Resnick said:

The MTA is subject to the First Amendment, which limits the restrictions that may be placed on which ads to accept. There is a review process for subway advertisements, the OK Cupid ads went through that process and were determined not to violate MTA guidelines.”

On further questioning, Resnick would not reveal the names of the people involved in the process. The MTA’s rules for advertising can be found here and seem to contradict the decision to greenlight the gross ads. First, the rules state that ads must be “viewpoint neutral.” No reasonable person could believe that a pro-abortion message is “viewpoint neutral.”

To establish uniform, reasonable, and viewpoint-neutral standards for the display of advertising in and on the facilities, vehicles and other property…

To remind you, the ads literally were denigrating Republicans and pro-lifers. “It’s okay to choose Mr. Right based on how far he leans left,” said one. “It’s ok to choose to only date someone who’s pro-choice,” said another with a clear pro-abortion message.

RELATED: [WATCH] Enraged New Yorkers Tear Down Sexually Explicit ‘OK Cupid’ Subway Ads

According to the MTA’s own rules, political ads are “prohibited.” [Emphasis in the following quotes mine.]

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the MTA will not accept any advertisement for display in or on the Property if it falls within one or more of the following categories:

1. Promotes or opposes a political party, or promotes or opposes any ballot referendum or the election of any candidate or group of candidates for federal, state, judicial, or local government offices.

2. Is political in nature, including but not limited to advertisements that either:

a. Are directed or addressed to the action, inaction, prospective action or policies of a governmental entity, except as permitted in Sections IV.A.2–IV.A.3 of this Policy; or

b. Prominently or predominately advocate or express a political message, including but not limited to an opinion, position, or viewpoint regarding disputed economic, political, moral, religious or social issues or related matters, or support for or opposition to disputed issues or causes. 

OK Cupid’s ads should have been rejected based on several points, but mostly because they “prominently advocate or express a political message including but not limited to an opinion, position, or viewpoint regarding disputed…moral, religious, or social issues,” like abortion. When I pointed this out to Resnick, he had no response other than to say the First Amendment is broad. That may be, but the MTA created a policy that says these ads should be prohibited, and then didn’t follow their own rules.

Not only that, but the rules also say that ads should be safe for minors. Under the “prohibited ads” heading, the MTA bans any advertisement that “contains sexually explicit material that appeals to the prurient interest in sex…as to reasonably be deemed harmful to minors.”

Are there any reasonable people at the MTA? Because the OK Cupid ads are the definition of appealing to a “prurient interest in sex.” The word prurient, as defined by Webster, means “having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters.” Please observe these ads again. What else would you call this?

Resnick did not respond to follow-up questions about who allowed these ads on publicly paid-for subways and buses. He did however condemn the woman on the video tearing down the ads.

Customers are free to express their disdain with subway advertisements, but they are not permitted to destroy them. Riders who violate that basic principle are subject to prosecution.

If you would like to contact the MTA to express your disdain for the violation of their own rules and the pollution of the public space with political propaganda and smut, they may be reached here.