Archive for bus

Creeping Halakha in Brooklyn? Women Told to Sit in the Back of the Bus

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2011 by loonwatch

If this were Muslims you could be sure that there would be a boycott of this bus line, as well as cries about Creeping Sharia’ and the threat of Islamization.

Women ride in back on sex-segregated Brooklyn bus line

(New York World)

On the morning of October 12, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus in Brooklyn and sat down near the front. For a few minutes she was left in silence, although the other passengers gave her a noticeably wide berth. But as the bus began to fill up, the men told her that she had to get up. Move to the back, they insisted.

They were Orthodox Jews with full beards, sidecurls and long black coats, who told her that she was riding a “private bus” and a “Jewish bus.” When she asked why she had to move, a man scolded her.

“If God makes a rule, you don’t ask ‘Why make the rule?’” he told Franchy, who rode the bus at the invitation of a New York World reporter. She then moved to the back where the other women were sitting. The driver did not intervene in the incident.

The B110 bus travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn. It is open to the public, and has a route number and tall blue bus stop signs like any other city bus. But the B110 operates according to its own distinct rules. The bus line is run by a private company and serves the Hasidic communities of the two neighborhoods. To avoid physical contact between members of opposite sexes that is prohibited by Hasidic tradition, men sit in the front of the bus and women sit in the back.

The arrangement that the B110 operates under can only be described as unorthodox. It operates as a franchise, in which a private company, Private Transportation Corporation, pays the city for the right to provide a public service. Passengers pay their $2.50 fare not by MetroCard, but in dollar bills and coins. The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee defines a franchise on its website as “the right to occupy or to use the City’s inalienable property, such as streets or parks, for a public service, e.g., transportation.”

The agreement goes back to at least 1973, and last year the franchise paid the city $22,814 to operate the route, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. According to the news site Vos Iz Neias?, which serves the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City and elsewhere, the bus company has a board of consulting rabbis, which decreed that male passengers should ride in the front of the bus and female passengers in the back.

City, state and federal law all proscribe discrimination based on gender in public accommodations. “Discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations in New York City is against the law,” said Betsy Herzog, a spokeswoman for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which investigates and prosecutes alleged violations of anti-discrimination law.

The Department of Transportation, which issues the franchise, confirms that it understands the B110 to be subject to anti-discrimination laws. “This is a private company, but it is a public service,” said Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the DOT. “The company has to comply with all applicable laws.”

Following the New York World’s inquiry, Solomonow said DOT would contact Private Transportation Corporation. “We are reaching out to the company about this alleged incident to ask for its response, with the expectation that it will take steps to prevent the occurrence of incidents of this nature,” he said.

The B110 bus shares stops with MTA busesMelissa Franchy/Special to the New York World

Herzog said the Human Rights Commission would not investigate the B110 unless someone filed a complaint. But its website states that “anyone who provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation” and that it illegal for public accommodations to “set different terms for obtaining those goods or services” to different groups.

Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School and editor of the CityLaw newsletter, said that anti-discrimination laws apply to bus franchises, but that religious groups are sometimes granted exceptions. “Do all these laws apply? Yes, they apply to buses that are franchises,” Sandler said. “The question is whether there is an exception for this particular bus line.”

The Transportation Department said that the B110 had not been granted any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.

Calls to the offices of Private Transportation Corporation also went unreturned. We tried calling the home of Jacob Marmurstein, the company’s president, but were told he was unavailable.

The New York World will be keeping a close eye on the practices aboard the B110 bus and the city’s response – and we will let you know when we hear more.

Stop Islamization of America has their ad campaign derailed

Posted in Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by loonwatch
sioa_bus_adSpencer and Geller’s proposed banner

Crossposted with permission from Omer Subhani’s blog

Robert Spencer and Pam Geller are part of an organization called Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). SIOA just announced a bus ad campaign on Tuesday, April 13 in Miami-Dade County, FL designed to thwart the supposedly “misleading” bus ad campaign created by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and CAIR to promote the shared commonalities of Islam with Christianity and Judaism.

SIOA’s bus ad campaign had the following remarks on the 10 or so buses running their ads:

Fatwa on your head?

Is your family or community threatening you?

LEAVING ISLAM?

This ad was apparently designed for the purpose of promoting freedom of religion. Obviously, the purpose is a bit more sinister once you start to dig deeper into what Spencer and Geller are promoting here.

The ad includes an address to a website: refugefromislam.com. Go ahead and check out that web site. What do you find there? A web site dedicated to slandering Islam and promoting the views of Spencer and Geller.

Here’s a fair and poignant remark from this web site:

Muslims like you who have seen the falsity of Islam and have made the difficult decision to be free.

Oh sure, that’s just speaking the hard truth. Islam is false and Spencer and Geller want all Muslim apostates to know they got their back in saying so.

Well, it’s Friday, April 16 now, and guess what? The Miami Herald is reporting that the Miami-Dade transit authority took a look at the ads after they were posted on some buses and decided to remove them because they “may be offensive to Islam.” Ya think?

Of course, there’s a freedom of speech issue here. Certainly, Spencer, Geller and their lunatic fringe can spew their hatred on their blogs, but once they take their trashy bigotry outside of their internet cesspool into civil society it only goes to show you that normal, civilized people aren’t going to go along with the whole freedom of speech defense these bigots might use.

Do you think the Miami-Dade transit folks would be okay with posting up ads for the KKK or for some neo-Nazi group? Of course not. So why should ads smearing Islam and manufacturing propaganda against Muslims be tolerated? It shouldn’t, and it isn’t. Kudos to Miami-Dade County for standing up and doing the right thing here.

This entire ad campaign being led by Spencer and Geller is not about freedom of religion anyway, but is about their agenda of smearing Islam and Muslims.

There may in fact be Muslims out there who want to change their faith and fear doing so, but this ad campaign is nothing but propaganda designed to smear Islam and scare ignorant Americans into believing there is a genuine problem with Muslim apostates fearing for their safety. There is no such problem.

The real problem is the double standard Spencer and Geller hold when it comes to Muslim Americans exercising their First Amendment rights.

So for example, Spencer and Geller argue for the freedom of apostates to leave Islam. But what about Muslims who want to be able to practice their faith here in the United States?

Such Muslims don’t get any love from Spencer and Geller. In fact, they only get scorn and vitriol.

For example, recently a Muslim woman in Michigan was refused a position with McDonald’s because she wore the hijab or Muslim headscarf. Spencer accused Muslims of wanting America to conform to their “Islamic sensibilities.” No mention of freedom of religion there. Of course not, because freedom of religion doesn’t apply to Muslims, according to Spencer. The EEOC was quoted in the article Spencer referenced as saying that it had issued new guidelines for accommodating religious practices and beliefs in the workplace. The EEOC must also be a part of this whole Islamic sensibilities campaign, too.

Applying Spencer’s logic to other faiths would mean that a Sikh man shouldn’t complain if he is not given a job at McDonald’s either, or an orthodox Jew. They simply want to impose their “sensibilities” on the rest of us real Americans. Freedom of religion? Pssh.

After saying things like that, Spencer has got a lot of gall to be talking about freedom of religion. The Miami-Dade County transit folks aren’t buying his and Geller’s propaganda, and neither should anyone else.

Addendum by Danios:

The astute law student Omer Subhani has pointed out that this has nothing to do with freedom of speech, as nobody is stopping Spencer et al. from posting his profuse vitriol on his website.  However, he does not own the buses and therefore has no right to dictate what goes on them, as I do not have the right to dictate what ads run on JihadWatch.  Hypocritically, these Islamophobic elements supported the removal of the WhyIslam.org banners on metro stations, but now they seem to be struck with partial amnesia, claiming that it is a violation of their rights to remove their Islamophobic ads.  Apparently, freedom of speech to them is the freedom for them to voice their views and silence those of their opponents.   The issue is made exceedingly clear by the example given above, namely that nobody would expect the buses to put up ads supporting the KKK or some neo-Nazi group.  Alternatively, one can hardly imagine Usama bin Ladin being allowed to promote his message on these buses.

This is less of an issue about freedom of speech, but more about common human decency.  It revolves around Spencer and Geller’s departure from the bounds of reasonableness and entrance into the realms of fringe fanaticism.  (A reader of ours noted: “The word ‘departure’ implies that there was a time they were ever within the bounds of reasonableness.” Good point!) Their ad campaign reflects their juvenile behavior.  One can hardly expect better from Geller, but shouldn’t Spencer have at least some standards so he can continue to uphold his false claim to scholarship?  Bravo, Spencer.  You continue to expose yourself as the lunatic you are.  Please continue, so we can show the world what a raving lunatic you truly are.