It would be a really, really, really, really bad idea for Metro to post Muhammad cartoon ads.

No one has the right to gun another person down due to speech. Obvious, right?

At the same time, mocking someone’s religion is impolite. It’s not punishable by violence, but you could understand the discomfort someone would fee when the key figures of their religious tradition are mocked. That should be obvious, but people still seem to like draw cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will not accept an ad featuring the winning cartoon from the Texas “Draw Muhammad” contest which ended in gunfire earlier this month. Good for them. It’s one of the few good decisions Metro has made. (Though they, did go overboard by banning all issue-related ads through the end of the year. Perhaps Metro can’t help but be a little wrong.)

What does the American Freedom Defense Initiative think would happen if such ads went up on Metro? Anyone with $1.70 and patience for delays can jump on the Metro without so much as a pat-down or a peek inside a suspiciously bulky book bag. It is, like many places, a “soft” target for terrorists now. Muhammad cartoons would make it a desirable target as well. “Soft” and “desirable” and “not chocolate chip cookies” is not a good spot on the homeland security Venn diagram.

Sure, a violent response from radical Islamic terrorists would be evil and wrong, just as it was in Texas. But it is not unpredictable, and because of that there are many people – train passengers, Metro staff, and the like – unintentionally in the crosshairs.

They would not engage in any speech at all, yet would bear the brunt of the repercussions. In fact, they may not want to engage in such speech at all – since Muhammad cartoons are offensive not only to the radicals who will respond with violence, but for the civilized who won’t respond at all. There’s no need to needle the latter to poke the former.

By rejecting the Muhammad cartoons, Metro is not limiting free speech. In the first place, that’s because Metro owns the ad space, and should be able to rent it to whomever they choose. But beyond that, there will be plenty of people who don’t want to bear the predictable consequences of that speech. Why should anyone be allowed to put words in their mouth?

Stewart/Colbert rally demonstrates government competence levels

As Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were wrapping up their apolitical comedy and music show last, their crowd unwittingly demonstrated the reason many people are suspect of government running things like health care.  Just after Stewart’s closing keynote, an errant DC Metro escalator at L’Enfant Plaza sped up and start spitting folks off, injuring four to six freshly-sane rally goers.

Luckily, Metro’s crack administrative staff was prepared since, according to Unsuck DC Metro (the best-titled blog in the history of the internet), a report issued a month before the rally detailed the issues with escalator brakes throughout the system.

Is DC ready?

Your Nation’s Capital has been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday’s inauguration day. Restaurants are getting ready for crowds, the homeless have been swept under the rug, and Metro is issuing more expensive fare cards and telling people to walk.

Nope. This is what the Farragut West Metro platform looked like on Thursday night, without the crush of people who will be in town today through Tuesday. And those are just people waiting to get on a westbound train heading out of the district at 6:00 p.m.

Earlier that day, I picked up Metro’s guide to getting around during the inauguration. Tips included looking for alternate means of transportation – including walking.

In a December WTOP interview, Metro’s head conductor, General Manager John Catoe, said the system can move up to 1 million people but that “a million and a half is not a number we can physically move.” Metrorail handles about 750,000 commuters daily, and the disctrict is expecting an influx in the millions. So do the math: Metro cannot handle the crowds they know are coming.

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Is DC ready?

Your Nation’s Capital has been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday’s inauguration day. Restaurants are getting ready for crowds, the homeless have been swept under the rug, and Metro is issuing more expensive fare cards and telling people to walk.

Nope. This is what the Farragut West Metro platform looked like on Thursday night, without the crush of people who will be in town today through Tuesday. And those are just people waiting to get on a westbound train heading out of the district at 6:00 p.m.

Earlier that day, I picked up Metro’s guide to getting around during the inauguration. Tips included looking for alternate means of transportation – including walking.

In a December WTOP interview, Metro’s head conductor, General Manager John Catoe, said the system can move up to 1 million people but that “a million and a half is not a number we can physically move.” Metrorail handles about 750,000 commuters daily, and the disctrict is expecting an influx in the millions. So do the math: Metro cannot handle the crowds they know are coming.

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