- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Illegitimate outrage

“As an Orthodox rabbi with a wary eye on Jewish history, I fear that the strident protests registered against [‘The Passion of The Christ] by some Jews, well-intentioned though some may be, are ill-advised and imprudent. …

“I believe those who publicly protest Mel Gibson’s film lack moral legitimacy. To understand this, we must take ourselves back in time to the fall of 1999. That was when Arnold Lehman, the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum, presented a show called ‘Sensation.’ It featured, from the collection of British Jew Charles Saatchi, several works that debased Catholicism, including Chris Offili’s dung-bedecked Madonna. …

“Only a small group of Orthodox Jews joined their fellow Americans in protest at this literal defilement of Christianity with feces. Were other Jews silent? Unfortunately not. A small but disproportionately vocal number actually defended the Brooklyn Museum’s anti-Christianism.”

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, writing on “Selective Outrage Mustn’t Fritter Away Friendship,” in the January/February issue of the American Enterprise

Holiday, g’day

“Some Australians may be missing out on the core traditions of Christmas because many people are less inclined to express the traditional customs for fear of offending people of other religions.

“I would hate to see people, especially young children, giving up Christmas traditions that have been with their families for generations.

“Many kindergartens, schools and businesses have decided they have to ban things because they might offend others. While well-motivated, these people have it completely wrong.

“The great success of Australian multiculturalism has been built upon a Western Christian society, and no one is asked to give that up.

“Christmas is a time for people to get together, a time to care and think about others. All of the great organized religions of the world have at their heart a sense of concern and care for others, a strong sense of family and community, which is what Christmas ultimately is all about.”

Gary Hardgrave, Australia’s minister for citizenship and multicultural affairs, in a public statement issued Dec. 1

If the Pooh fits

“It’s not entirely clear how the Winnie the Pooh lawsuit became a modern epic. The facts of the case seem straightforward. In 1930, a literary agent named Stephen Slesinger acquired the merchandising rights to the Pooh story from A.A. Milne. … In 1961, Shirley Slesinger, Stephen’s widow, signed those rights over to the Walt Disney company in return for 4 percent of the revenues that Disney received from Pooh merchandise. Thirty years later, the Slesinger family sued Disney for breach of contract, claiming that the company had stinted on the royalties. Now, 12 years into the litigation, the case is said to be the oldest one on file in Los Angeles Superior Court, and it has recently earned another dubious distinction, a kind of postscript to the O.J. Simpson case. …

“A few weeks ago … the Slesinger family replaced its former counsel with Johnnie Cochran, who led Simpson’s successful defense in the criminal case against him. ‘The question in this case,’ Cochran said the other day, ‘is “Does the Mouse keep its word?” ‘ ”

Jeffrey Toobin, writing on “Silly Old Bear v. Mouse,” in the Dec. 22 issue of the New Yorker

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