Reporting Sandra McNeill
ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - It’s billboard emblazoned with a spider crushing skulls and the words: “Boycott Israel, Boycott Apartheid.” And federal judge has agreed that the Ann Arbor Transit Authority had the right to say no to an activist who wanted to place the ad on the side of their buses.
ACLU Attorney Dan Korobkin said he is disappointed by Judge Mark Goldsmith’s decision, as is Blaine Coleman, the activist he is representing.
“His view is that Israel should be boycotted because it’s equivalent to apartheid, and, as the ACLU, we don’t take a position on the validity of that opinion,” Korobkin told WWJ Newsrasdio 950′s Sandra McNeil. ”But we feel very strongly that, no matter what someone’s opinion is, that that speech should be heard.”
The AATA said the ad violated their advertising policy.
“There is no doubt that some people find this ad to be offensive and maybe even personally hurtful or outrageous,” said Korobkin. “But that kind of speech has always been protected by the First Amendment by our country, and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be protected here.”
He added, “It is not the government’s role to censor speech. Even when the speech is controversial, offensive or unpopular.”
Korobkin said they may continue to fight to get the ad seen.
“We’re still considering our options,” Korobkin said. “There are a number of different avenues open to us, but we haven’t decided yet exactly what to do from here.”