Letters December 22, 2011

Real estate and religion

To The Editor:
Re “Occupy Wall St. reaches out to C.B. 2 to help get lot” (news article, Dec. 15):

How about an independent commission from Community Board 2 to determine how the space might be made “safe” for Occupy Wall Street to use in the manner described by O.W.S. reps?

It sounds like O.W.S. is already canvassing the neighborhood to ensure Trinity is being “responsive and responsible to their residential and business neighbors.” Portable restrooms could easily be obtained, as one does for any outdoor site.

If it becomes clear that the space could be used safely, it would appear that Trinity Church would have to chose its master: real estate ethics or Christian ethics.

Otherwise it will bear a terribly ironic resemblance to that biblical request, to which the reply was “There is no room at the inn.”

Just in time for Christmas.
K Webster

Upstate needs O.W.S., too

To The Editor:
Re “New York City needs the creativity of O.W.S.” (talking point, by K Webster, Dec. 1):

Dearest K, very well described. The same issues are true of Occupy Albany.
Reverend Joyce Hartwell
Hartwell is interfaith minister, The Artists’ All-Faith Center of the Capital Region

Occupy London is a joke

To The Editor:
Re “Occupy London Tent City is still holding its ground” (reporter’s notebook, Dec. 15):

My office overlooks said camp. I pass said camp daily getting to my office. The writer’s sole visit is merely a subjective observation on said camp. Here are mine:

Since the “strike,” activity in the camp has decreased dramatically. I have noted on several occasions prominent members of the camp arguing amongst themselves, often shouting and swearing — great P.R.

The large banner which reads, “This is Democracy,” is displayed next to the port-a-loos. Tent numbers have decreased since the “strike.” People generally don’t care anymore.

My conclusions:

Politicians don’t listen to those protesting.

Politicians don’t listen to those striking.

People are apathetic (cite the poor turnout for the Feltham election).

The camp will alter nothing.
Merry Xmas.
Owen Marsden

Busk they must

To The Editor:
Re “Don’t ban the buskers” (editorial, Dec. 15):

I think Adrian Benepe needs to be serenaded by the buskers! Let’s call for a busk-in.
Aron Kay, a.k.a. “The Yippie Pie Man”

Park rules have huge impact

To The Editor:
Re “Don’t ban the buskers” (editorial, Dec. 15):

The park rules for artists were a deception and a pretext from the very beginning.

The rules’ pretext or stated purpose was to reduce the number of street artists, reduce pedestrian congestion and commercialism, and improve park aesthetics. Judges, many community people and the media fell for this seemingly reasonable explanation.

Yet, in the four parks where these rules were initially enforced — Union Square Park, the High Line, Central Park at Columbus Circle and Battery Park — the Parks Department has replaced a handful of street artists temporarily selling their own art under the protection of the First Amendment for a few hours a day with numerous non-First Amendment-protected, corporate vending concessions selling food, souvenirs, gifts, beer and wine, as well as almost daily corporate product promotions.

The month-long Holiday Markets in Union Square and Columbus Circle have scores of vendors, and are located at the city’s two busiest subway entrances. They create objectively dangerous pedestrian conditions, completely hide famous monuments and use huge tents and generators. (Weren’t tents and generators supposed to be illegal in New York City parks, according to the mayor?)

In this video a police officer assigned to the Union Square Holiday Market admits it’s unsafe for the public:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqZy8UL_u44 .

The handful of medallion spots set aside for artists in these four parks was a red herring intended to trick community boards into believing these revised rules would have no effect on free speech in other parks.

However, in Washington Square Park, the new regulation to keep 50 feet from any monument eliminates the entire open plaza between the arch and the fountain. The park’s paths are narrower than 15 feet, and in the very few spots where they aren’t, it’s impossible to be 5 feet from a bench. Plus, one can’t use any planted area — so you have a virtually 100 percent prohibition.

In fact, virtually 100 percent of the city’s parkland is now off limits to those exercising their First Amendment rights.

While publicly claiming to be a great lover of freedom and of artists’ rights, Mayor Bloomberg has outdone Giuliani in repressing artists’ rights and in trashing free speech generally.
Robert Lederman
Lederman is president ARTIST (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)

It may take a miracle

To The Editor:
Re “Vilnius worshipers lose court fight over Soho church” (new article, Dec. 15):

The spirit of Our Lady of Vilnius will not die. We will not let it. I don’t know how we will do it, but we will. And we will do whatever we can to end the bullying of parishioners.
Christina Nakraseive

Horns reference is hurtful

To The Editor:
Re “Go down, Moses, way down in Little Italy, on Mulberry” (news article, Dec. 15):

The reference in the article to “a horned, long-bearded Moses” without editorial clarification only goes to further prejudice and malevolence. Regrettably, there are people (I have personally encountered a few) who believe that Jews have horns because of this ongoing malicious canard. To some people, possessing horns is only one short step from family connections with Satan.

Yes, it might be possible that Michelangelo may have depicted Moses with horns. In the past, there was a gross mistranslation in the Douay-Rheims version of the Torah — the translation most commonly used by the Roman Catholic Church. The word “keren” in Hebrew can  mean both “horn” and “ray.” What the scriptural writer had in mind when he described Moses descending from Mt. Sinai was most  certainly a halo of rays of light. The Hebrew Masoretic Text also uses words equivalent to “radiant,” suggesting an effect like a halo.

Some historians believe that Michelangelo understood the error and was actually depicting emanations radiating from the head of Moses — the man who provided the ethical foundations for Judaism and subsequently Christianity and Islam. Emanations are comparable to a halo, except that Moses was in a special class since he was one of the few human beings who ever had a direct conversation with God. How else might one depict, in carved marble, rays emanating from a person’s head? New Yorkers can view an excellent example of “rays” carved into a stone version of Moses in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at the General Theological (Episcopal) Seminary in Chelsea.

In any case, to blithely suggest that Moses had “horns” in the article without further clarification is downright misleading and mean-spirited — if not morally objectionable in its inferences. That’s a rather startling act toward the man who provided the world with a code of ethics that is the foundation for several of the world’s major religions.
Justin Ferate

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