Lenin Quote on the NYC Subway
Here are the facts.
This morning at around 9:30 AM I caught the Uptown A train (#5302) at 14th Street, on my way to Columbus Circle. This 10 minute trip took about 30 minutes, what with being stuck in the tunnel for quite some time and having to wait for the crack MTA team to fix some switch and all that.
Like the alert citizen that I am, I started looking around the subway car for the evacuation instructions. I figured a quick refresher wouldn't hurt, just in case. And that's when I saw this ad:
The text of the ad reads:
I won't be able to finish the revolution.
Vladimir I. Lenin
At the bottom of the ad, from left to right, we have:
www.rivernyc.org.....COULD CHURCH bring peace?.....river.....Christ (something I wrote down but can't read) to be me.....greenwhich village.....wall street
(you can see the ad here, at the top of the page)
The ad is for a NYC church, The River.
Here are my problems with this ad.
A) I don't think religious ads on public transport are appropriate.
First, there's that separation of Church and State thing that we must strive to safeguard. [The MTA is partly funded by the federal government.]
Second, and more importantly, it's cruel and unusual punishment (not to mention counterproductive) to taunt post-9/11 bus and subway riders in NYC with religious slogans, vivid reminders that religious zealots want to blow us all to bits.
B) I know quotes from murderous terrorists [are there any other kind?] don't belong on subways.
This one's self-explanatory: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
Here's what I did.
I called The River church and spoke with the senior pastor, a Mr. Charles Park. He took full responsibility for the ad (they did work with an ad agency, but he said the church ultimately had final approval).
According to Mr. Park the intent of the ad was to "raise awareness" (?!), to ask if spirituality (listening to Beethoven) could bring about peace by stopping people (Lenin) from, you know, murdering tens of millions.
It's a shame I don't approve of profanity because I so should like to use a certain expression (rhymes with What The Duck) just about now to describe my reaction to Mr. Park's explanation. Is Mr. Park dense or what?
I quickly provided Mr. Park with the answer to his most
challenging and unknowable devoid of any sense of reality question: No, listening to classical music does not bring about peace and it does nothing to stop the massacre of tens of millions of people, not to mention the nonimpact it had on establishing communism, one of the most malignant, despicable and destructive political systems ever to be invented. [No way to tell what I really think of communism, no?]
Mr. Park assured me that his church's intention was not to be offensive and I suggested to him that using quotes from mass murderers is not the way to go about it at all.
I also called the MTA customer service line (718-330-3322) and asked to talk to the person in charge of approving ads on the subway. I was transfered to CBS Outdoor (212-297-6400), a division of the CBS Corporation, a "media agency responsible for placing ads on the subway" according to the woman who answered the phone.
I explained to her that I saw an offensive ad on the subway and wanted to talk to the person responsible for approving it. She told me the only way to go about it was to send a letter to the legal department. She also said, and I quote, "I cannot give my name at this time." What can I say, CBS Outdoor and, by extension, the CBS Corporation--International Outfits of Mystery(TM).
Here's the address, should you feel inclined to write to them:
CBS Outdoor, 405 Lexington Ave., NYC, NY 10174, Attention: Legal Department.
My bottom line:
Shame on The River church for choosing to disseminate its message by stepping on the memory of tens of millions of corpses.
And shame on the MTA for allowing this ad on its subways. I guess there's just nothing like drawing ad revenue from the wisdom of a terrorist and from making light of the deaths of tens of millions of people.
What's next for The River church and the MTA, ads featuring Osama bin Laden's musings on the impressionist masters and Kim Jong-il's bromides on the shape of fluffy clouds?