This is the add environmental group 350.org wanted transit riders to see as they made their way through the greater Boston area. They thought that it was important for Boston voters to know that their Senator Scott Brown -- despite a bewildering amount of doublespeak -- had voted against giving the EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
But curiously in the age of Citizens United attack ads, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority found the ad a little too political for its taste:
350.org was given very little information regarding the rejection. I am informed that they simply received the following email, from the contractor that handles advertising for the T:
From: Titan 360
Date: Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 5:05 AM
Unfortunately, the MBTA did not approve of this creative due to its political stance, and we will not be able to install the campaign.
Sorry for the long wait and inconvenience. We will issue our own internal paperwork to cancel the contract.
Obviously, there is nothing indecent about the ad. Some riders may disagree with 350.org’s point of view, but so what? Do we really want the MBTA – a government agency – deciding which viewpoints are suitable for advertising, and which aren’t?
You know, if the MTBA simply rejected any and all advertisement that is political or controversial in nature, it might be understandable. But look at what did pass muster with MTBA's editorial board:
[A]s you may recall, the rapture was supposed to happen on May 21, according to a rather extreme interpretation of certain biblical writings by a guy who also happened to have a lot of money. He plastered ads announcing the event all over the country, including on MBTA buses. But when it turned out that – surprise! – Family Radio also harbors certain anti-gay sentiments, the T’s general manager came out with a series of muddled responses, first saying that the T took down the ad because of Family Radio’s views, and then later claiming that the ads actually came down because the campaign expired, but that “content of future ads to undergo more scrutiny.”
I'm sure that the MTBA got some complaints over those Family Radio ads, and it may be that which has caused them to be more careful about the kind of ads they will allow. But given sheer number of astroturf groups that will not hesitate to pile on Democratic candidates as we near the election, I think there needs to be a fairly consistent application of the eidtorial guidelines.