Friday, April 24, 2015

Killing Jews is Protected in the First Amendment?!?!

Dear Henry,
      A few days ago, as I was doing my bi-minutely perusal of the social media, I noticed a headline to an article that caught my attention: "'Killing Jews is Worship' posters will soon appear on NYC subways and buses.'" Now growing up in  the mountains, I have seen my fair share of bigotry. In a high school basketball game, a guy made the mistake of attempting to shoot over me. I proceeded to stuff him like a Thanksgiving turkey, and then he called me a dirty Jew. One time after a guy got called for a foul on our home court, he said, "man these refs are so Jewish! (They were not) I looked up at him and boldly said, "that's not very nice!" But Henry, I have never, ever, experienced someone explicitly calling for the killing of the Jews.  Not in this country at least. It's one thing when a nutty fanatical regime in Iran that for some reason the United States wants to imbue with nuclear power calls for our elimination and destruction; but for that message to appear on a city bus and subway cart in the most populated city in our country?!? I mean, the First Amendment is great and all, but it should protect a call to kill and eradicate an entire religion? So I did what any good Jew would do, and I immediately picked up the phone to call the ACLU. But as I realized I didn't even know their phone number, I told myself, "slowdown cowboy, before making that call, I am going to go ahead and ask you to first read the article to understand the context. "Great idea Dan-o," I responded to mysef. Let's give this article a good old fashion looksie."
       Henry, I will be 100% honest with you because I owe it to you, and my thousands of readers to keep it real: I was shocked at what I read. I was fully expecting to see some fundamentalist Islamic group behind the ad, and I was ready to be furious and to then call my senators to ask how this is allowed to fly. But as I scrolled down the article, I saw that the headline totally misrepresented the ad. The ad really says, "'Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.' ---Hamas (aka hateful Terrorist organization) TV (emphasis mine.) That's His jihad. What's yours?"
      Henry, I have no desire whatsoever to get involved in the first amendment debate. Heck, the point of this post is not even to comment on the appropriateness or lack thereof of the ad, (for the record I am not so comfortable with it). For those who missed the meaning of the ad, the ad is quoting (disparagingly) a terrorist organization bent on killing Jews. Yet, the headline I read from the Washington Post made no mention of that whatsoever. So one who merely reads that headline, might very well come to similar conclusions that I did; that rather than mocking Hamas, the ad is calling for the murder of thousands of my Jewish brethren.
       The point of the blogg post, oh Henry, is to point out, as the Torah does in many places, that we have to be very careful before passing judgement.  The Talmudic tractate known as "Ethics of our Fathers" teaches the following pieces of brilliance: 1) "Be slow in judgment." 2) Judge everyone favorably. 3) Do not judge your fellow until you are in his shoes." The overwhelming theme here, oh Henry, is that before passing a definitive judgment on anything in life, we need to do the necessary research. How many times do we negatively judge a person, only to flip-flop our opinions of them once we find out what agonizing circumstances that person is grappling with in his or her life? How do we feel then? Something I have learned in life is that EVERYONE has got STUFF that they deal with in their lives. How would we do under such circumstances? Can we really assume we would act any different? What right do we have to judge them? Do we want people to judge us? How can we expect others, or for that matter, G-d himself, to give us the benefit of the doubt, when we are so quick to form negative opinions of everyone else?
      We live in a world dominated by twitter and two-second sound bytes. Our attention span is only good for about 140 characters, or about 4.5 seconds. But we owe it to ourselves to improve in this area; before forming opinions about anything we read or see on social media, we need to make sure to do our due research, just as we must be very hesitant to pass quick judgment on our peers. Instead of living life at the super high speed most of us live in this smartphone, instant gratification society, we need to slow down, become more thoughtful and try to keep everything in perspective, both in how we engage the media, and in how we relate to each other.

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe

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