The C is for Crank

Times' Metro Ad Proposal Would Only Deepen Budget Hole

By Erica C. Barnett December 30, 2010

Sorry to pile on to the Seattle Times
, but the editorial that ran this morning suggesting that Metro get out of the business of selling ads is a classic case of cognitive dissonance. On one hand, the Times wants Metro to be leaner, meaner, and more financially stable (by cutting drivers' wages and making employees pay more for health care
, among other things); on the other, they want it to stop selling ads entirely---giving up nearly $6 million in annual revenue---because of a "dicey" recent debate over an ad condemning Israel.

The Times writes:
Advertising is a form of free speech and government should not have to make dicey decisions on which group to support or not — or which to appear to support or not. Look at how unwieldy this debate has become. [...]

No matter how hard Metro lawyers toil, it will be difficult to craft policy that slices the free-speech principles properly.

You know what's difficult? Deciding where to cut bus service. Raising fares on transit-dependent low-income people. Negotiating labor contracts with powerful unions. Compared to that, figuring out what constitutes hate speech is a snap.

And the thing is, government agencies decide which companies' ads to run all the time. Is the process sometimes "unwieldy"? Sure, but that's why agencies have policies dictating what ads are acceptable and what ads aren't.

Kind of like, you know, newspapers.
Show Comments