Posts Tagged ‘Religion on the Line’

Service of Freedom of Speech

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Free Speech

I woke up on Sunday to a rip ‘roarin conversation on WABC Radio’s Religion on the Line between co-hosts Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormack and their guest, Michael Meyers, president of the New York Civil Rights Coalition. The topic: The University of Oklahoma students who chanted a racist song on a bus. Two, the leaders, were already expelled from the school. Their fraternity chapter that was evicted from its house on campus was closed by the national organization.

I felt that the co-hosts  [pictured at right] were surprised by Meyers’ arguments. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik Deacon Kevin McCormack 2

Meyers said that the University president, a government employee, had no right to expel anyone because of this country’s commitment to freedom of speech. He noted that the incident happened off campus and was brought to the world by a video that nobody has to look at–they have to take action to see and hear it.

He felt that it was up to the University to do a better job of educating its students, not expel them for their words; to teach them to express their opposing ideas so that the words are challenged by words, not by punishment. He said that it’s not up to the government to teach good manners. He mocked the university president for being overly dramatic when he claimed he had a sleepless night over the incident.

He granted that as a private institution the fraternity was within its rights to punish and close the chapter.

Michael Meyers NY Civil Rights CoalitionMeyers [photo left] agreed that racism and anti-Semitism are wrong, but, he recalled, even Martin Luther King Jr. said you must let people speak.

The message of the Rabbi and the Deacon was that in religious communities, people have a moral responsibility to address [and punish] hateful or demeaning comments. They parried Meyers’ comments and said that words can be as dangerous as actions. The Deacon, who is also the principal of Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, pointed out that he is able to expel students for such actions because he works for a private institution.

While co-hosts and guest clearly didn’t agree, the segment ended with laughs by all when the Deacon said he’d like to continue the conversation with Meyers over dinner and the Rabbi, known for his quick wit and love of teasing, suggested that Meyers remember to bring his checkbook.

Where do you stand?

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Service of Forgiveness

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Forgiveness

Yesterday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” substitute host Martha Raddatz acknowledged that the Ray Rice domestic violence case brought the topic of abuse out in the open. Wasn’t everyone aware of it before?

Co-hosts Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormack, on their WABC Radio program “Religion on the Line” on Sunday, also covered the topic. The discussion started with Rice, who knocked out his then fiancée, [wife now], and dragged her out of an elevator, and moved to the impact on others of how such a high profile case is treated.

Their conversation took a twist. 

The Deacon wanted to know how much an abuser had to do to make things right and the Rabbi said being banned from football, starting to attend domestic violence classes and joining a church wasn’t enough. The Rabbi pointed out that thieves get bigger punishments than Rice did.

The Deacon asked what the advantage is to a family if the bread winner loses his ability to support it. He was concerned that a spouse might not report an abusive partner for fear of jeopardizing the family’s livelihood which is what was done to the football player. The Rabbi responded that those in jail face this outcome. The Deacon asked “Doesn’t Rice’s wife have something to say?”

After a commercial break the Deacon said that he’d heard from his wife and listeners who vociferously disagreed with him. At the end of the program the co-hosts discussed forgiveness.

Why does it take celebrity involvement to give credence to a topic such as abuse? Do you think that an abused man or woman would be fearful of reporting the situation because of anticipated loss of family income? What role does forgiveness play in horrific acts like this?

domestic violence

Service of Being Cut Off at the Pass

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

 

Photo: Brett Duke/The Times Picayune

Photo: Brett Duke/The Times Picayune

Last Sunday Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormack mentioned on their radio program, “Religion on the Line,” that there were no clergy at the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum dedication.

This was an unusual omission, they observed. They reminded listeners of the interfaith memorial service organized by clergy at Yankee Stadium a dozen days after the attack. It was meant to help heal. So what had changed since the citizens of the New York metro area–and the country–craved spiritual support?

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Left, and Deacon Kevin McCormack

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Left, and Deacon Kevin McCormack

I didn’t watch the museum’s opening ceremonies and wasn’t aware of this, though I was surprised to hear it, given that prayers or spiritual thoughts are often a part of memorials at a graveyard.

What came immediately to mind? This scene, a total conjecture: The event planners thought of everything and someone influential came in at the last minute, cut off at the pass their arrangements regarding clergy participation and made a crucial change based on a snap decision. It’s happened to me and to others all the time and in all sorts of ways—not just at events.

Aaron Copeland [seated] and Leonard Bernstein. Photo: Milkenarchives.org

Aaron Copeland [seated] and Leonard Bernstein. Photo: Milkenarchives.org

Leonard Bernstein did it to Aaron Copland. In the Bard College Conservatory of Music notes in Sunday’s program, Peter Laki, visiting associate professor of music, quoted Bernstein writing Copland about the latter’s Symphony No. 3: “Sweetie, the end is a sin. You’ve got to change [it].” Laki continued: “Bernstein proceeded to cut 10 measures from the concluding section.” Laki wrote that the cut version became standard, but that on Sunday the audience would hear the last movement as Copeland wrote it. It was glorious.

Lionel, a fictional character on the British comedy “As Time Goes By” suffers indignity and fits as his script–and life–are cut to shreds and then foolishly built up by a California TV production crew.

Back to real life when John McCain ran for President, Senator Joe Lieberman was his first choice of vice president but the Republican Party axed that plan. You know the rest.

Has something you’ve planned, written or designed been cut off at the pass? What was the result? Why do you think that the clergy of any stripe was omitted from the 9/11 Memorial Museum dedication?

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