Too sensitive?

I’ve seen people being too quick to take offense at any critical or even less than 100 percent respectful comment about their race, ethnic group, nation, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or even labor union, but this letter, in today’s New York Post, takes the cake. It has to do with the Post’s June 11 coverage of a lavish bar mitzvah celebration that the city’s prison authorities allowed an inmate to hold for his son and family in the downtown prison known as the Tombs. The front page headline for the original article was “Bars Mitzvah.” Here’s the letter:

However inappropriate the hosting of a private catered affair for a prison inmate may be, your front-page headline, “Bars Mitzvah,” surpasses it by a mile.

The Post’s flip defilement of what is a sacred religious term and religious rite, which millions of Jews worldwide observe as a precious cornerstone of their faith, is reprehensible.

Shame on you for this grossly offensive, sophomoric and unprofessional reporting.

Charles Klein

Do you believe that? An inmate holds a catered bar mitzvah behind bars, and the Post, with the taste for word play that makes it so much livelier than other papers, headlines it, appropriately enough, “Bars Mitzvah,” and—in this society in which the grossest, most inconceivable offenses are going on daily and not remarked on—Klein gets totally bent out of shape and charges that the Post has “defiled” the sacred and precious cornerstone of the Jewish faith.

Meanwhile,—just to bring a sense of perspective into this—I’ll bet Mr. Klein has never spoken a word or even imagined speaking a word against the mass immigration into this country of people whose precious religious faith commands them to exterminate the Jews.

Here is the original story:


Who needs the Waldorf?

A wealthy inmate was allowed to host a lavish bar mitzvah behind bars for his son at the downtown lockup known as the Tombs, The Post has learned.

The proud papa, Tuvia Stern, is a financial-scam artist who jumped bail and spent nearly 20 years on the lam.

City Correction Department officials permitted him to use his own caterer, who supplied kosher food, china, forks—and knives—for about 60 guests who partied and danced the hora for six hours in the jailhouse gym.

Stern’s family and friends were allowed to keep their cellphones—normally a huge security no-no. And Stern was given the OK to dress in clothing appropriate for the occasion.

The guest list at the jail included several prominent rabbis as well as Yaakov Shwekey, a popular Orthodox singer, and a band.

The city threw in its own present—overtime pay for the correction officers staffing the soiree.

The Dec. 30 bash was so successful that jailbird Stern chose the same venue four months later for his daughter Breindy’s engagement party for 10 family members, sources said.

Shame-faced Correction officials yesterday quietly disciplined five top employees, including a rabbi and an imam, for signing off on the bar mitzvah.

“I’ve never seen, in my career, anything as stupid as this,” said a Department of Correction insider about the bar mitzvah, which was permitted over the objections of at least one jail official. “It’s outrageous what transpired.”

Correction Commissioner Martin Horn was “livid” and “views the events as a spectacularly gross error of judgment up and down the command chain,” said a department source.

Horn suspended Rabbi Leib Glanz, the correction chaplain who arranged the bar mitzvah, for two weeks.

Four other officials were stripped of two weeks of vacation.

They include the assistant commissioner for ministerial services, Imam Umar Abdul-Jamil.

Abdul-Jamil had been suspended for two weeks in 2006 after The Post revealed that he had given a speech referring to “Zionists of the media” and “terrorists” in the White House.

The other department officials losing vacation pay are Tombs warden George Okada, and two chiefs, Peter Curcio and Frank Squillante. Department spokesman Stephen Morello said only that Horn “took immediate disciplinary action” after an internal probe was completed.

A source said all Jewish inmates were moved out of the Tombs yesterday for unknown reasons.

Stern, a Brooklyn native who had been a fugitive in Brazil for nearly two decades, was shipped to an upstate prison days after the engagement party to begin a sentence for bail jumping and grand larceny.

He went on the lam in 1989 after he was busted for swindling $1.7 million.

Glanz and Abdul-Jamil both declined to comment. The other three officials could not be reached.

Additional reporting by Selim Algar, Reuven Fenton and Candace Amos

[end of Post article]

- end of initial entry -

June 17

Larry G. writes:

Yes. I tend to forgive little slights like this—if it even is a slight—because people are human. Humor is a hallmark of our humanity, and who knows humor better than the Jews?

Intent always must be considered. Remember the big controversy over the depiction of the Virgin Mary incorporating elephant dung? Supposedly elephant dung is considered somewhat sacred in some parts of Africa—and it’s mostly grass anyway—the artist had used it before, and while the piece was intended to be provocative, I don’t think it was meant to offend. “Piss Christ” on the other hand, was meant to offend.

I’ve always enjoyed the highly caricatured representations of Chinese found in museums like the Met in NYC. These were done by ancient Chinese, and clearly they recognize what they look like. Their intent was artistic, and probably to honor. In contrast, the WWII caricatures of Japanese by American propagandists were definitely intended to incite hatred of the enemy. Yet today, both the ancient art and the WWII propaganda would be labeled “racist” by some.

There was a heated blog discussion last night about two GOP employees who had emailed some pictures that could be construed as offensive. One pictured Obama as a pair of eyes on a black background. “So what?” I say. The intent was clearly to be cute, not to invoke mockery or hatred. Yet commenters wanted them fired. It’s getting to the point where depictions of Obama by Republicans are becoming as taboo as images of Mohammed.

Too many people are too eager to see “hatred” where it doesn’t really exist.

As to the bar mitzvah party at the Tombs, clearly this was a major screw up. The best solution would be to allow the inmate to attend a party off-site while under strict security to prevent his escape. Lots of stupid decisions by lots of stupid people here, and more than a few people should be fired.

Mark Jaws writes:

As my wife has frequently reminded me, the Left always overplays its hand. Mr. Klein embarrasses himself just to make a futile attempt to criticize the Post, one of the few newspapers left in our country which does not lean left. I thought “Bars Mitzvah” was a clever and funny play on words, and so characteristically Jewish, that Mr. Klein would be able to appreciate it. However, there are many liberals who can appreciate humor ONLY when it emanates from the left side of the spectrum. Had the story involved Mark Levin, Dennis Prager or Lawrence Auster and been reported by the New York Times, I am pretty confident Mr. Klein would have found the use of “Bars Mitzvah” hilarious.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 16, 2009 08:40 PM | Send

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