You've really got to like the features we now have on our new and improved Website, starting today. The addition of comments to stories is a great idea. Several of the larger papers in our state have this ability and it's a good way to sample public opinion on a given issue. There's also features like photo sharing, videos and slide shows.
Another great new addition is the blogs, which will give the staff and others around the community a chance to sound off on whatever interests them and also allows for interaction with the public. If the writer of a story wants to include links of interest so that a reader can further study an issue, it only takes a few clicks of the mouse to do so.
This writer kept a blog in years past, but I grew weary of it after a while and let it sit fallow. I recently started a MySpace page after urgings from a dear friend who has reentered my life. There's always a concern with letting too much personal information out on the web, but a little care and thought in what is posted should deal with that.
I would suggest that some of our local elected officials follow suit and set up something like this. It's an excellent way of keeping the public informed and also allows them to hear from the people they represent.
There's a disturbing case going on right now at Pace University in New York as a student there is facing two felony charges for putting a book in a toilet.
Apparently, this happened 10 months ago, but authorities apparently devoted a lot of time and effort to bring this crook to justice.
Stanislav Shmulevich was arrested, jailed for 24 hours and charged with criminal mischief and aggravated harassment. These are felonies, not misdemeanors, but both are considered hate crimes. All because the volume in question was the Islamic holy book called the Koran.
I suppose it all depends which religious or national icon is being abused when it comes to pressing serious charges against someone. If someone places a crucifix in bodily waste, it's hailed as a work of art. It's the same if you depict the Virgin Mary covered in dung. If you burn the flag, that's constitutionally protected free speech and defended by the ACLU.
But put the Koran in the commode and it's off to the big house with you, buddy.
I wonder if similar charges would be pressed if the same thing happened to the Holy Bible?
I really doubt it.
What takes the cake is that several New York papers felt this was a serious enough case to publish the fellow's name and photo. Given how easily that radical Muslims become enraged over the least little incident, real or imagined, this is the equivalent of painting a target on his back.
The guy hasn't been charged with abusing kids, murder, or has escaped from prison, which is the only times you see a suspect pictured in a newspaper. He allegedly put a book in the pot.
The charges claim he took the tome from a place of worship. Fine. Charge him with theft. Or vandalism. Not a hate crime. "Hate crimes" allows for the concept that a person's intent and emotion, a totally unknowable state of mind, primarily defines criminality. If that were the case, we'd all be in big trouble.
What was allegedly done at Pace was disrespectful. Even gross. But it was not a hate crime.
The thing is, many colleges around the country permit anti-Jewish hatred to be spewed by Muslim students protesting the situation with the Palestinians, while any displays of anti-Muslim sentiment are prosecuted to the maximum.
Through this use of double standards and by displaying weakness when it comes to complaints from Islamic organizations, universities are proving the lack of any moral integrity or courage. They are also providing some outstanding moral lessons to their students.
I suppose Shmulevich should consider himself lucky, though. He could end up like facing a death sentence. Reuters is reporting that an Egyptian living in Saudi Arabia is facing the chopping block for desecrating the Koran and renouncing Islam.
Apparently the man, a pharmacist, "had left copies of the Muslim holy book in the mosque washrooms," Reuters reported.
Remember, our allies in Saudi Arabia dispatches murderers, rapists and drug traffickers via public beheading. Anyone found guilty of apostasy [rejecting Islam] over there can also face death.
Yep. Shmulevich should consider himself very, very lucky he lives in the land of the free. He is only facing several years of prison time for his alleged "crime."
I'm sure he's feeling really relieved about it.