Action Needed Now on Nightclubs
August 23, 2006
To the Editor:
Imette St. Guillen and Jennifer Moore’s tragic deaths, along with several other recent violent club incidents, highlight a growing problem in New York City: nightclubs have become increasingly dangerous (“Cameras, Scanners: The Answer?” by Duncan Osborne, and “Christine Quinn’s Privacy Misstep,” by Paul Schindler, Aug. 17 – 23). It is time to take action to make them safer. Elected officials cannot stand on the sidelines when lives are in danger.
The City Council has proposed a comprehensive nightclub safety plan including the use of security cameras at nightclubs in the City. In your recent editorial, you question whether this plan unnecessarily compromises personal privacy, especially for LGBT individuals.
We at the City Council understand the importance of protecting individual privacy, particularly as we deploy new, high technology law enforcement tools and expand the reach of the law. We are committed to working with New Yorkers, civil liberties advocates, and law enforcement to ensure that as we strengthen public safety, we protect individual privacy.
We have proposed that nightclubs use security cameras because we believe that they will serve as an important tool for law enforcement to fight nightclub crime. The cameras will be there to collect evidence of criminal activity – not to spy on personal lives. But, we are aware of the potential for misuse of videotaped information or of other information collected with ID scanners or other electronic devices. We are committed to developing clear guidelines for club owners and law enforcement on how and when to collect, use, retain, and destroy this information so that we can keep our streets and nightlife safe without causing an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy.
Christine C. Quinn
New York City Council
That Dog Didn’t Hunt
July 27, 2005
To the Editor:
I would like to suggest that if your reviewer Christopher Byrne is going to fillet my play—or anyone else’s for that matter—in his reviews, that he at least have the common courtesy and professionalism to get his facts straight (“Gone to the Dogs,” Jul. 27 – Aug. 2).
Whatever his opinion of my play “Crazy for the Dog” is—and of course he’s entitled to it—I am disappointed and distressed at his sloppy and disrespectful reporting. There is no mention of cats being tortured in this play, there is no violence on stage in this play. Further, there is no mention of the mother in the play being mentally ill. I have to wonder if Mr. Byrne was paying any attention at all—or did someone else watch the show for him? A busy night perhaps? A few martinis before the show?
And, this play is not a “fraud,” it’s a play. It’s not a ruse perpetrated on the public, or a fake thing, or a trick—whether or not the virulent Mr. Byrne thinks so—it was conceived, directed, and produced in good faith by good people who put a lot of effort into it.
If Mr. Byrne feels the need to be clever in order to have his readers enjoy his critiques, that’s all and well, but to mis-report and misrepresent is unprofessional and frankly indefensible for a member of the press.
It boosts nothing and helps nobody and certainly does nothing for what is already a struggling theater community for critics like Mr. Byrne to be so loosely and carelessly nasty (which, ironically, his how he characterizes this play). If he doesn’t respect my writing, that’s his prerogative. If he hates it, fine, that’s fair too. But I would encourage him, and I hope you will too, to actually do the job he’s been assigned, and perhaps with a little thoughtfulness thrown in for good measure.
It Ain’t All Bad News
August 13, 2006
To the Editor:
Congratulations to Ioannis Mookas for getting to the dark heart of the much-praised movie “Half-Nelson” (“The Awkward Age,”Aug. 10-16). Unlike other reviews which focus on Ryan Gosling’s acting chops, Mookas doesn’t flinch from the movie’s cynical message, namely, that broad movements for social change are doomed to failure, and that progress can only be registered “one student at a time.”
This is the broken record of what can be called the postmodern trend in Hollywood film-making. A decades-long backlash against the mass-action progressive movements of the 1960s, this trend proclaims movies of “social significance” those which celebrate individual acts of charity and sacrifice as the only effective way to fight injustice. In this regard, “Half-Nelson” joins such lately lauded films as “Crash,” “Syriana,” “The Constant Gardener,” and “Transamerica.” That this retrograde perspective has such legs in La-la-land should surprise no one, since it satisfies the narcissistic fantasies of producers, actors, and promoters who love any theme that puffs up the Lead Character.
This trend will probably continue for some time—or at least until the next recession, anyway—so we can expect the usual plaudits from court commentators as future hero-worship-as-social-statement vehicles roll into theaters. I hope Mookas will continue breaking from the pack.
Fogs and Clearings
August 7, 2006
To the Editor:
I attended the July 19 anniversary vigil in New York commemorating the 2005 execution in Iran of two Iranian teenage boys and as the controversy in your pages now heats up over why these boys were executed (“The Fog of Debate,” by Duncan Osborne, Aug. 3-9), I have some even more basic questions about what actually happened in Iran on July 19, 2005:
1) Who or what was the author and/or originator of the e-mail that conveyed the shocking photo worldwide over the Internet and who took the photo? In a word, what are its “bona fides?”Has it occurred to anyone else that it could be a “plant” by an Iranian exile organization, for instance, or even by the Iranian government which over the years has become skilled at manipulating the media for its dark purposes?
2) In their Gay City op-ed piece of the same issue, “People to People Dialogue Key to Human Rights Progress,” Mitra Roshan and Kourosh Shemirani, founders of QIAM or the Queer Iran Alliance,”expressed concern about the politics and strategy of something called the Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization which sent the July 19 vigil a long and remarkably eloquent statement. What is known about this group and its bona fides?
I think that before we start protesting too much, we ought to know more about the electrifying photograph that we have all seen which depicts a tragic event about to happen, but did it?
August 20, 2006
To the Editor:
Your reporting in the past few months, in particular regarding the Mashad executions and the politicized response to them by various human rights organizations, gay-bashing in the Baltic states, the new situation facing gays in Poland, and Christine Quinn’s misguided response to various crimes committed against patrons of New York City bars, exemplifies the best traditions of independent journalism, and why we need a vibrant, independent press protected by the First Amendment.