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Thursday, December 04, 2003

The first time I saw an ad that proclaimed "Enjoy Better Sex!" at a Metrobus stop, I was sort of amused. I was further puzzled when below that declaration was the phrase "Legalize and Tax Marijuana." I thought it was a shade goofy, but it definitely got my attention.

I also wondered when someone was going to raise a stink about it.

The Washington Post has a story about an effort by Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Oklahoma) to punish Metro $92,000 for accepting the ad from the non-profit Change The Climate Inc. (The Post article also furnishes a miniature version of the offending ad.)

Now I've seen plenty of "public service" ads on Metro that I've taken to be a slight affront to my value system, such as it is:
* An ad seen in Metrorail stations proclaiming that gay men and lesibians can be "cured" if they so "choose," with the help of some "ex-gay" "foundation" affiliated with some religious organization.
* An ad from an organization affiliated in some way with the Catholic church that claims "Women deserve better than abortion." (My view: Well, women do generally deserve better than abortion, but that's not a decision I feel comfortable making for them.) Now maybe this is simply a plea to get women considering abortion to reconsider, but at some level this is also an attempt to persuade the larger public that abortion should be outlawed.
* Any propaganda put out by a certain cult that calls itself a "church," bases its unintentionally hilarious teachings on the writings of a certain dead hack science fiction author, and is mostly about brainwashing rich people, particularly celebrities, into giving them money.

And yet I was able to restrain myself from demanding these ads be removed from view. Of course, I'm also not a Congress critter.

If I were, hopefully, I'd have something better to do than try to micromanage the advertising policies of a transit authority in a city where I don't really live. Even if I were inclined to engage in said micromanagement, I would hopefully have some familiarity with the scrutiny given to content-based restrictions of public speech, and the possible litigation exposure that may result from such restrictions on speech. I would also hopefully know the difference between advocating for a change in the law and advocating illegal behavior.

But here in the District of Columbia, power over our governance is given to people we never elected, who either don't know or don't care about these things, and frequently don't feel they have better things to do with their time.


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