A decade ago, a Danish publication posted cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that roiled the Muslim world, resulting in death threats for the editor whose life was subsequently lived under constant security watch. Although this was international headline news, The New York Times refused to publish any of the cartoons, buckling in fear for the security of its own establishment. So of course it’s ironic and amusing that their editorials have been so self-righteous about the need to uphold our absolute freedom of speech in the wake of No Korea’s hacking of SONY and threats to theater owners of a 9/11 type of retribution for screening The Interview. The most sensible suggestion I have read is that the government pay SONY for the rights to the film and then air it free on television and over the internet. It seems patently unfair to call for greater courage from commercial theater owners than the Times was able to summon in its role as dispatcher of all the news that’s fit to print.
In considering the sequence of events, I’m troubled by the notion that private businesses, in this case theater owners, should be expected to pay the penalty for the foolishness of other for profit private ventures. Even if no act of terrorism resulted from the hackers’ threat, wouldn’t audiences stay away from that possibility and wouldn’t theater owners suffer a financial loss? And what would their liability have been if any act of violence had occurred? Would Seth Rogen’s movie have been any different with a fictitious name for an Asian dictator? Is any work of fiction justified in using the real name of a living head of state or public personality? At what point does freedom of speech clash with the right to live without being threatened? What would the reaction of American pundits have been to a satiric movie about President Obama being lynched? We live in a society where you cannot say or print the word nigger without euphemizing it with just its initial - does that represent freedom of speech? Is one word more inflammatory than a movie whose plot concerns a political assassination?
If the Times wishes to restore its bona fides in this area, let it now publish the Mohammed cartoons along with an apology to the American public for its dereliction of duty the first time around. And perhaps a mea culpa to SONY and the theater owners for the Times having made the same decision themselves ten years ago, before deciding to lambaste them for their behavior would be sheepishly appropriate.
All my life I’ve been hearing people talk about their diets and frankly, it bored me to tears. I had never dieted, as I am a cardio junky, and had always burned more calories than necessary to remain reasonably thin. And then, about a year and a half ago, I got a job as a staff writer for The Arsenio Hall Show.
I last saw Brenner about a year ago in New York City. Although graying a bit, he was as sharp and edgy as ever both on stage and off. His observational humor included stories about how New York City has changed through the years. Bike lanes and taxis were among his targets. Many of his longtime social and political subjects are equally relevant today–overcrowded prisons, America’s school system, Congress and lobbyists. He described his humor as talking about the simple things in everyday life. He stayed up-to-date on current events and discovers the ridiculous side of them in his stand-up act.
“If Satchmo played the trumpet, I wouldn’t have to do anything,” a recently svelte Paula West said. “I’d just sit back and let him make a load of money.” She was referring to her five-year-old French Bull dog sitting at her feet. The dog is named after the late legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong. Satch, who accompanies the vocalist everywhere, relaxes in the green room during her performances. “Satch is a big attention whore; he’s changed my life.” She continued, “I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs. It’s as offensive as saying, ‘I don’t like Mexicans or I don’t like Blacks.’” She feels those folks are missing something in life. She clarifies, “he’s not my kid; but he’s my baby. The plus side is the ramifications of ‘F’ ing up a kid are worse.”
It only took the first day of Cheryl Strayed’s 1,000 mile odyssey to make me uncomfortable - the moment when she yanks off her rotting toenail and watches her shoe tumble down a ravine, then tosses its mate furiously after it. I worried about the details - wouldn’t she be in pain hiking without a toenail? why didn’t she bandage her toe to protect it from infection? Did she bring along an extra pair of boots? By day 3, my concern about her foot was eclipsed by my fears about her marching through a scorching desert all day long without a hat - a blue-eyed blonde with ivory skin - wouldn’t she have been burnt toast by day 1? When a director chooses to structure a movie by the calendar, we expect a greater degree of versimilitude; he is telling us “this is how it was day by day - right from Chery’l diary.” So here she was, a woman who had packed about 40 lbs of equipment to carry on her back through open wilderness without even a 6 oz baseball cap. She had a tent, a stove, a pot, chemicals to turn swamp water into potable liquid, dried packaged mush, enough books for a small sidewalk stand in Greenwich Village, enough condoms for a professional, but NO HAT.
About six weeks before the 2012 presidential election, I was walking through Rockefeller Center in New York when I heard a woman’s voice calling my name. I hesitated before I turned around: As a conservative in Gotham, I never know if I’ll be accosted by a raving leftist screaming “fascist!” at me. (Yes, that happened.)
Nothing illegal transpired when the grand jury voted not to indict the policeman who put Eric Garner in a chokehold. People may not have liked that decision but no one has accused the prosecutor of not following the proper guidelines of the law or the jury of having been corrupted. There are remedies for dissatisfaction with this conclusion and they have already started to go into effect. The federal govt has begun preliminary investigations into the possibility of a Civil Rights lawsuit and the family of Mr. Garner will undoubtedly initiate a civil suit against the city for wrongful death. A prestigious law school should have used this event as an important lesson in how our legal system works and how individual rights are balanced against other forces and considerations. Instead, Columbia Law School has deemed this event a trauma for its students and has decided to postpone final exams for those students too impaired to take them. By this reasoning, every time a lawyer loses a case, he should be excused from his immediate work load. The only people who can properly be considered traumatized by Garner’s death are members of his immediate family; students of all colors who are displeased should still be held to their academic responsibilities or the definition of trauma gets diluted down to sheer meaningless-ness.
Newsflash: North Korea did not hack into Sony Pictures in retaliation for the studio’s upcoming release of “The Interview” — based on a script about a kooky, clandestine CIA plot to off North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
While the Rev Al Sharpton was in Ferguson last Sunday, whipping up continued frenzy over the refusal of the grand jury to indict white Officer Darren Wilson for killing a black man who had just committed a robbery and when apprehended, tried to grab the officer’s gun, 8 black people were shot - 3 fatally - in Newark and 4 more at a baby shower in Brooklyn. These were all young adults whose lives were snuffed out or brutally impacted by other blacks, though no arrests have been made so far. A month ago, a black man used his car to plow into a crowd of black people who had also attended a baby shower, killing one and injuring two. The racial violence of black on black is a nightmare for law-abiding urban black citizens, most of whom understand that the police are there to protect them, not act as executioners. But for the Reverend Al, playing the race card has always been and continues to be his only modus operandi. It’s the ticket to his overwhelming acceptance by American political leaders, too intimidated to excoriate a lying tax cheat who profits from his motor-mouthed characterization of black people as continually oppressed and victims of white racism.
With the election over, thank God, I thought pesky telephone polls would subside. But if anything, they’ve increased. Not the “Who has your vote?” polls, or what I call “Slur Polls” — questions designed not to collect answers but to deliver attacks; polls that start out normal and then slide into insinuation: “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most disgusted, and 1 being not as disgusted as you ought to be, how revolted were you to learn of the secret slush fund of Rep. Peckinsniff …”)
Those who are certain that numbers don’t lie and that the 15 women who have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby of drugging and molesting/raping them stand as evidence of truth should be reminded that 37 people claimed to be afflicted by witches in the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. This doesn’t mean that Bill Cosby is innocent of the charges but it does mean that this isn’t a class action suit and that the details of each of these experiences may differ significantly enough to not be proof of anything. As of now, we are listening to women tell about events that happened as far back as four decades ago, a long enough time for anyone to forget or re-interpret the past. Some of these women accepted money from Cosby, often over a long period of time. Some, like Janice Dickinson, made a career out of bedding famous men and bragging about that in interviews and books. Many of these women admitted that they were hoping for acting jobs on Cosby’s popular tv show. There was never a shortage of female groupies who considered sexual experiences with entertainers as trophies for their collection or women who aspired to careers in show biz who were perfectly comfortable with the requirements of the casting couch.
You wouldn’t guess that Stephen Hawking’s inspiring and dramatic life would need embellishment by withholding pertinent information and distorting facts, yet that is precisely what occurs in the film “The Theory of Everything.” Based on his first wife’s book (”Travelling to Infinity”), Jane Hawking is portrayed as a fresh-faced, forever young martyr who manages to take care of a completely paralyzed man and three children while working on her Ph.D and vacuuming the house - all unassisted. Since we have already witnessed that once Stephen required a wheelchair, he needed to be lifted and carried to his next location, we know that it just isn’t possible that they lived without additional help yet we don’t see a nurse enter until the children are fairly grown. In truth, as of 1974, a student always lived and traveled with the Hawkings to help with Stephen’s extraordinary health care needs.
The most remarkable thing about Foxcatcher, a movie about two seriously damaged protagonists, is its refusal to offer anything resembling a psycho-babble interpretation for the unusual circumstances we have witnessed. There is no over-arching tying up of unraveled cords as frequently occurs in movies when the creators don’t trust their audience to parse the subtext accurately. Instead, the screenwriters, director and cast have all done their jobs so expertly that we have understood what the characters have thought and felt without any verbal explanations.
History will sort out whether the bitter, right-wing hatred of Barack Obama was significantly greater than the bitter, right-wing hatred of John F. Kennedy or Franklin D. Roosevelt or any previous president.
In early 2009, newly minted President Obama invited Republican leaders to the White House. In the spirit of good will, the GOP offered ideas about how they could work together. Mr. Obama offered a sharp rebuke: “I won.”
Two of New York’s grandest and most important landmark buildings - The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The New York Public Library - have now been trashed by commercial food and tchochke vendors. According to their mandate, The Landmarks Preservation Commission is charged with being “responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark status, and regulating them once they’re designated.” The officers of the commission deserve impeachment for their dereliction of duty in what are undoubtedly, the two most significant examples of great civic architecture and cultural purpose in our city.
Though it is unclear as I write this if or how the Obama Administration is going to react to the rash of murder-by-car terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, but as much as it may want to downplay them as “traffic incidents” or the work of lone nut jobs, this is clearly the Jihadis’ new tactic.
A week or so ago, a terrorist ran down a bunch of people at a light train stop in Jerusalem, killing an American baby and a young woman from South America in an act of terror the U.S. Administration called a “traffic incident,” and which barely even made the news. This was the same week that a similar attack took place in Canada, followed by another terror attack there not involving a vehicle.
The fact that the U.S. Government and the intentional press chose not to see the terror-driver attack in Israel as terrorism may be keeping authorities worldwide from connecting the dots; understanding this new tactic and addressing it.
There can be no doubt with these three terror-by-vehicle attacks in Israel — two in one day — that this is the savages’ new thing. This might be made slightly more difficult if the U.S. and international press continue to insist that there is no such thing as terrorism if the victim is Jewish or Israeli, but at this point, even the stupidest, anti-Semitic ignoramus has to get the picture.
And this time, Hamas is “taking credit” for the most recent attack, unlike the last one, in which it only glorified the baby-killer as a “martyr.”
Hamas said this second attack, was meant to “protect the city’s most sensitive and sacred site” the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.”
The third terror-by-car attack was in the West Bank, later the same day, “when a Palestinian motorist drove into a group of soldiers, wounding three in a suspected attack,” according to the Associated Press.
Bear in mind that these attacks appear to be motivated by a call by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for his minions to protect Judaism’s holiest site from Jews coming to pray there, because, somehow, the site is “defiled” by the presence of Jews.
There has been an attempted assassination and calls by Jordan for the Jews to be kept away from this Jewish holy sites so Muslims may pray there undesturbed by the presence of Jews.
If anyone uttered that same sentence with the roles reversed, the resulting worldwide righteous indignation would be epic.
But Antisemitism is cool these days.
It’s not just Jews under attack, however. There were the two attacks in Canada, the ax attack against some cops in New York and the beheading of a woman in Oklahoma — each of which has radical Islam in common. So, no matter what our government tries to say, these are not random, unrelated attacks.
So, now that we know the loony-toon Islamists have taken to using their cars as weapons, wouldn’t it make sense to deny them legal access to vehicles?
I know I’m going to be called names for making this suggestion, but under any other circumstances, it would be clear that this group should be made to turn in their drivers licences and all motor vehicles registered to them should be confiscated. And I don’t just mean in Israel and the Palestinian-Arab occupied territories — I mean everywhere there are radical Islamists — which is, basically, everywhere.
Israeli police said they plan to set up barricades near train stops to prevent the attacks, but we could be more effective by removing the temptation to drive into people by removing the vehicles from the terrorists.
Hamas, the A.P story says, praised the violence as a “glorious operation” and called for more, because attacking a bunch of unarmed, unsuspecting people waiting for a bus really makes you a man. Murdering infants is terribly taxing. Right.
All this murder and mayhem by the Arabs, which has drawn no international condemnation whatsoever, is taking place while the U.S. and the European Union are bent all out of shape over Israel’s announced plans to build housing in East Jerusalem.
In this world, construction brings condemnation, cold-blooded murder does not. Apartments “seriously call into question Israel’s commitment to peace,” A.P. reports — as opposed to the Palestinian’s slightly more violent approach. That’s just fine, I guess.
Nothing shows commitment to peace like mowing down pedestrians with a minivan.
I can’t seem to shake the feeling that we’re all down the rabbit hole.
I vote at P.S. 6 on the upper east side of Manhattan, in a neighborhood with no bodega in sight between 5th and 2nd avenues yet the posters outside the school and all along the block said Vote Here and underneath, Vote Aqui. Below that, in fainter type was the same information in Chinese. In other words, we no longer expect Hispanic voters who use the same alphabet as English to understand the four letter word “here” even when used in context on Election Day at a polling station. This is even worse than translating SALIDA when EXIT is universally printed in bold red above a door frame. Mayor De Blasio has just designated a $150 million appropriation to improve some of New York’s ineffective schools but Vote Aqui is a prime example of one of the causes of failing in school - the patronizing soft bigotry of lowered expectations for minorities.
Tucked inside the first section of today’s WSJ (11/4) on page 7 is the followng headline: “For Ebola Survivors, Sex Carries Added Risk.” In the article we discover that the virus can live in sexual fluid for as much as 90 days after people are cured of the disease. We learn that Doctors Without Borders warns discharged patients to use condoms and other African clinics give survivors certificates that emphasize NO SEX FOR 90 DAYS in capital letters. Apparently, here in our own country the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued similar warnings. Why has the general public not heard of this? The NYTimes devotes two full pages to a discussion of ebola in its Science Section today - not a mention of this topic; nothing about it on the tv talk and magazine shows.
Sometimes, the truth of a situation appears in small details before the big picture emerges. Poker players learn to scrutinize their opponents for their “tell,” the reflexive movement or twitch that an individual isn’t even aware of making. So, Disgraced, the Pulitzer prize-winning play now on Broadway, opens onto a set of an expensive, upper-east side penthouse apartment with French doors leading to the terrace, a coffered ceiling with expensive lighting and a corridor leading to the rooms beyond. This is clearly a classic Park Avenue apartment yet everyone who comes to visit knocks on the door as if this were Jerry Seinfeld’s apt on the upper west side. What, no doorbell? Even in a building with a doorman buzzing upstairs to announce a visitor? Even dinner guests dressed for a formal evening? Knocking?
When my nephew was in St. Vincent’s hospital after being run over by a murderous driver, he was in a lot of pain. I went to the nurse’s station to ask if someone could come to check him out and was angrily told by the head-nurse that they were all busy tending to my nephew’s roommate, a gentleman who had AIDS. Her meaning was clear: in the hierarchy of patient needs, AIDS always trumps fractured bones. Two days later, it was the AIDS patient who was released while my nephew was dead from lack of attention to a blood clot that wasn’t caught in time.
Ankara’s seemingly shocking — but welcome — move reportedly allowing Iraqi Kurds to transit through Turkey to reinforce Syrian Kurds battling the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) for the city of Kobani, Syria, doesn’t mean the Turks are “all in” on the ISIS fight.
What are we to make of sexual behavior on campus? On the one hand, schools do their best to facilitate sexual activity between adolescent students by providing co-ed housing and bathrooms, frat parties and an atmosphere encouraging them to feel like independent and mature adults. Until the students realize that they aren’t, and that like all other relationships in the real world, sexual ones are fraught with misunderstandings, complications, differing interpretations and ulterior motives. At that point, the school steps in and attempts to act as judge and jury as to what happened between two individuals who have contrasting accounts of an experience that one calls rape.