More fallout from ‘anti-Christian’ caption

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To the editor,

When I saw your caption comparing the improvement needed in the health of Walter the pit bull to the “alleged” resurrection of Jesus Christ, I was offended, but chalked it up to the secular press trying to be provocative and was willing to ignore it (“Walter is one sick puppy,” April 23).

However, after reading the two letters you published in your next issue, explaining very clearly why your attempt to be funny was not appropriate, I find myself irritated even more at your failure to apologize (“Christians are hot and bothered over our caption,” Letters, May 7).

Your bad taste insults all people of faith. Yes, I am a Christian and a practicing Roman Catholic. Many Christians believe Jesus Christ is more than a “religious figure.” A part of my faith is that Jesus Christ is God made into man, and that he rose from the dead.

Non-believers would not have had to be offended if you kept any reference to the resurrection out of the piece.

Jill O’Leary, Park Slope

• • •

To the editor,

It may be true that it would have been better to use a phrase, such as “as believed by many Christians.” However, the letter is far more offensive to some of us and would, I suggest, be offensive to Jefferson, too.

It asserts that your rights — presumably in this instance your right of free speech — flow from both God and the Constitution. They do not. They flow from the Constitution alone, and not from the letter writer’s God, Allah, Buddha, Thor, nor Zeus. Nor for that matter, from the great spirit of the third volcano from the left.

That is what separation of church and state is all about.

Brian Jones, Brooklyn Heights

• • •

To the editor,

I am new to Brooklyn, but read your paper online before coming to town from LA and find your slightly acerbic tone refreshing.

I just wanted to give you a thumbs up for not caving in to the Christian culture police, those who take every opportunity to ram their beliefs down our throats and suppress freedom of expression.

I was surprised (well, not really) that some Christian readers were offended.

Those of us who do not believe in their messiah are forced to silently suffer since most media have a pro-Christian reporting bias.

You just picked up a loyal reader! Stay independent.

Janie Gust, Boerum Hill

• • •

To the editor,

As a practicing Roman Catholic, I was not offended by your vacuous statement, “Walter, a pit bull puppy, was discovered on Easter Sunday in Park Slope, but unlike the religious figure who allegedly rose on that day, he may not be resurrected without your help.”

The lack of civility on your part reflects only on you — not on Christianity, or Jesus Christ. But your editor’s note of May 7 does beg the question of why you referred to Jesus in the first place.

I am, however, embarrassed for you because you are only capable of expressing vitriol against Christianity, never, at least in print, against Judaism, Buddism, Islam or Mohammad. Why is that? Fecklessness, lack of chutzpah, or both? You betcha!

No doubt there is a bullhorn in your future.

Marj Nichols, Bay Ridge

Editor’s note: The letter writer is actually wrong on her last point. Devout members of all of the above-listed religions have, at various times, complained of alleged vitriol on our part.

Vendors clean!

To the editor,

I would like to clear up any misconceptions, and assure you that some of our vendors, who currently park their food trucks in the commissary at Bond and Union streets, are not causing the Gowanus rodent problem as alleged by a concerned community resident quoted in your article (“Rats! Red Hook vendors may have caused Gowanus rodent problem,” online, May 5).

Our vendors comply with city health regulations, and clean, sanitize and park their food trucks in a commissary approved and sanctioned for proper storage and maintenance of such trucks.

Many food carts serviced at this commissary, yet the allegations brought by your article focus exclusively on the Red Hook vendors, only two of whom service their trucks there.

We feel this allegation is biased and based on assumptions rather than facts. It is simply hard to believe that a group that started operations less than a week ago could be responsible for a wide infestation in such short time span. And while video footage (“EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Is this the biggest rat in Brooklyn?” online, May 6) may point out to a real problem affecting some residents of the Gowanus community, it lacks any real evidence that suggests this infestation originated from the Red Hook vendors’ trucks.

The Red Hook Food Vendors stand in solidarity with the residents, and we ask you to stop printing sensational headlines that use our name to guarantee broad media coverage, but at the end of the day only divide the community.

Cesar Fuentes, Red Hook

The writer is executive director of the Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park.

Salute Daniel!

To the editor,

I was outraged to learn in December, 2003, that Forest City Ratner was going to build a huge urban center between our neighborhood and Fort Greene. None of us had heard anything about such a plan.

At the time, it was reported as an accomplished fact, even though there had been no consultation through community groups. We also felt betrayed that Borough President Markowitz and Mayor Bloomberg were advocating by-passing the usual Uniform Land Use Review Process.

Daniel Goldstein quickly mobilized an opposition and came to many community meetings to see who else felt as indignant as he did (“The $3M man,” April 23). Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn was forming, and Daniel began to assume responsibility for organizing the group based on his democratic ideals and desire to preserve the diversity of the neighborhood. Also, his apartment in the footprint was something to defend.

Determined to defeat Ratner’s monstrous proposal, and also to come up with an alternative, Daniel facilitated, along with Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene), discussions that resulted in the Unity Plan for development of the site over the Atlantic and Vanderbilt train yards.

The Unity Plan is a less extreme and more decentralized proposal that would engage a variety of developers in building housing, recreation facilities and locally-owned retail stores without swamping already over-crowded streets, schools and other infrastructure as well as social services, which are now scheduled for devastating cuts to fund illegal occupation and killing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Unity plan would maintain the livable scale of the neighborhood we enjoy and cherish, and which Ratner’s dense urbanization would exploit and destroy.

The $3 million Daniel got from Ratner for his apartment after seven years of struggle is barely sufficient. A significant portion will go to legal fees. His family will be able to find another place to live among us in the community to which they have shown such a fierce commitment. And they will get modest back pay for the sacrifice of living in a nearly abandoned building and receiving for more than full-time work the modest amount that we were able to raise so that Daniel could speak eloquently and honestly on our behalf.

Accusations by ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, that she was personally attacked and that Daniel’s dedication was opportunistic from the start, are false. Those of us fighting the Atlantic Yards project believe that her positions fully supporting the project are harmful to our community as is Ms. Lewis’s bitter tirade against Daniel.

We all agree that the diverse population living in Brooklyn needs housing and jobs, as well as recreation and sports facilities. We need to stop spending on war and weapons that do nothing but destroy. First and always, we need an inclusive and respectful dialogue about how to achieve those goals, and we need leaders dedicated to explaining the evidence and logic in support of their positions.

I will continue my humble contributions to Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. Working alongside Daniel and this group of talented, committed and courageous local activists raises my spirits as the struggle continues.

Susan Metz, Prospect Heights

• • •

To the editor,

I read your story in which you quote Forest City executive MaryAnne Gilmartin saying, “The sticking point was how much money he wanted” (“Just in it for the money?” April 30).

This is an absolute untruth. I know that you were in court. After the argument, Empire State Development Corporation’s attorney asked for a conference. The reason was simple. Its papers were defective as a matter of law. It could never obtain an eviction order on the Order to Show cause it presented for a Writ of Assistance.

We had a conference before the court, first together and then individually. At this point is was only me. My son, Joshua, joined me much later as he was finalizing an Order to Show cause for Judge Abraham Gerges’ signature on another case. The amount of money was calculated based on what our appraiser had indicated would be the fair market value of the Goldstein Condo. It also included amount representing the estimate cost for temporary housing, moving storage and moving the stored items back to a final location together with relocation benefits as required under the Uniform Relocation Assistance Act. It also included my firm’s legal fees and an amount representing the two-week factor to vacate.

The Corporation and Forest City had three law firms in court that day with about 20 other employees, executives, in-house counsel and consultants. When it went into the judge’s robing room, there were at least six lawyers. After each session, as negotiations progressed, we each conferred with our client.

It is impossible for Ms. Gilmartin not to have known what was happening, step-by-step. The money never really changed. The amount was agreed to early in the process, perhaps within the first half hour. What took six hours was Forest City’s insistence that Daniel Goldstein agree never to say a word about the project.

His response was that he would never agree to waive his First Amendment rights for $10 million, and would leave if that was a condition. I reported that to the judge and he spoke to Daniel. When the judge realized the caliber of the man in front of him, he agreed that it would be wrong to condition a settlement on such a waiver. Thereafter, the language which was made part of the settlement was drafted by the judge and agreed to. In short, Forest City should be ashamed of itself for planting statements it knows were false.

It is unseemly for a large developer to act in such a mean and vindictive manner. This conduct does not reflect well on it, and tarnishes the fine reputation it once had for dealing fairly with condemnees.

When we left the court, I told Daniel that I was proud to represent him.

Michael Rikon, Manhattan

The writer, a partner in Goldstein, Goldstein, Rikon & Gottlieb, represented Daniel Goldstein.

Terror strip

To the editor,

I agree with the problem of how dangerous McGuinness Boulevard is because my family lives on the corner of Newel Street and Meserole Avenue, one block off of the boulevard (“Residents angry as McGuinness Speedway claims another life in Greenpoint,” online, April 27).

The cars are always trying to beat the light so they speed down Meserole Avenue. This is a problem because for those cars coming down Newel Street onto Meserole Avenue, the stop sign still does not help them. We have had at least five cars, motorcycles, or trucks crash into our gate, or actually into our house since 1998.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Greenpoint) was contacted, and he then forwarded the problem to the Department of Transportation, which responded that it did not see a problem.

We are hoping that with your coverage of the story, there may be help for the residents that live around the McGuinness Boulevard.

Kathleen Smith, Greenpoint

Badge of dishonor

To the editor,

The “lawless park” has been given an award by the Environmental Protection Agency award, and it just goes to show the ineptitudes on another level (“Chicken heads? Blood? Trash? So what!” May 7).

To reward a park that is neglected, and then to say that they know nothing about the many issues that occurred in Prospect Park only tells me these environmental people have not been doing their homework.

Get your butts out of the chairs and into the park that is crumbling before your very eyes, and see the trash, the injured animals from the fishing lines and the neglected ponds.

We need help for the park, not an award!

Susan Yuen, Kensington

Posted 12:00 am, May 13, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

JP from Park Slope says:
I am offended at the idiocy of all religious are all so obviously wrong!!! jesus, buddha, mohammed...all figments of a long ago imagination. if i told you that feces was a symbol of god when you were a very young child you would probably still believe that as well. break free from your mental slavery!!
May 13, 2010, 6:50 am
Jeremy from Bushwick says:
Mr. Jones is incorrect about the source of rights. There is a rights theory that sees rights flowing from the Creator. There is a rights theory that sees rights flowing from our nature as human beings. But few argue that our rights are a legal fiction, and nobody who understands the Constitution would say the document gives us our rights. It in fact does nothing but restrain the government from taking our rights (in theory -- not in practice, obviously). It doesn't give us rights, it reiterates them, and says which rights the government has (few, again in theory).
May 13, 2010, 4:36 pm
B Jones from B Heights says:
Jeremy should try to enforce some right "flowing from our nature as human beings" in the courts. Good luck if it has no basis in the Constitution. Forget it if the only basis is an alleged edict from some "Creator" or other.

If the thought police tried to shut down the Brooklyn Paper, I think the Constitution would be far more useful than the Talmud, say, or the Book of Mormon.

Jeremy should also not rest his case on "fiction". That way lies big trouble for true believers.
May 14, 2010, 7:52 am

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