Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Broadband of Brothers
Next story: News of the Weird

Letters to Artvoice

Sham-a-lama ding-dong

Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? As of this week, Lamaist Buddhism is the Established Church of the University at Buffalo. “Interfaith” services are state-sponsored, class (but not the class system) is cancelled, and students are all but ordered to herd into the stadium for arena religion in the form of the living incarnation of the Buddha, the Dalai Lama XIV, the biggest thing since the Beatles who were themselves, as the Apostle John (Lennon) observed, “bigger than Jesus.”

Now the student response to all this hype is a little bweliderment and a lot of apathy. The only ones who care deeply are the deeply resentful (Red) Chinese Student Association and the Campus Crusade for Christ, who are on notice to keep low profiles. Last month I saw a forklift full of His Holiness’ books outside the student bookstore; inside they languish unsold. Even the Capen library’s copies of his autobiography sleep on the shelves. The Living God’s visit is the biggest yawn since Y2K.

Now, as religious heirarchs go, the Dalai Lama compares favorably to, say, Pope Ratzinger, the world’s oldest Hitler Youth. A God who wears glasses is disarming; a Vicar of Christ who wears Prada reminds Protestants why Luther was right. Benedict Arnold XIV hates gays; the Dalai Lama says if they haven’t taken vows and nobody gets hurt, it’s okay. As religious heirarchs go, I wish they all would.

Nonetheless, the Dalai Lama’s current pretense to be the avatar of human rights is almost as preposterous as his pretense to be the avatar of Buddha. He ruled Tibet as the autocrat of a theocracy without a trace of democracy or individual rights. Most of the people were serfs. In one of the poorest countries in the world, 20 percent of the population consisted of parasitic priests and monks. The history of Lamaist Tibet is a history of centuries of state terror, violence, ignorance, poverty, religious madness and exploitation on a scale unsurpassed anywhere at any time for so long.

On his deathbed, the Buddha laughed when his disciples said he was immortal. But they got the last laugh. That’s why His Holiness the Dalai Lama is always laughing. He’s laughing at you.

Bob Black



WBFO wishes to respond to the editorial note that followed Walter Simpson’s recent commentary on this summer’s fighting between Israel and Hezbollah (“Letters to AV,” Artvoice v5n35).

First, Walter Simpson has not been “canceled” by WBFO. Please know the time I was spending on our commentary series was taking me away from my primary mission of coordinating our local news coverage. So, we made a decision this summer to present one commentary a week on WBFO. Because of our desire to present a diversity of commentators, as well as topics, we informed our four monthly commentators that they would be invited to submit pieces along with the rest of our listeners for this weekly series. Granted, they won’t be heard monthly. But they weren’t “canceled” as was stated in the editorial note.

Secondly, WBFO declined to run Mr. Simpson’s commentary because the station had already aired two pieces on the Mideast violence in previous weeks. Again, WBFO seeks a diversity of topics. WBFO has always limited the number of commentaries on any particular issue. Others may disagree with this decision. And that’s not to say we won’t return to the topic at some point in the future. But I, as an editor, had the right to make this decision.

WBFO is proud to offer listeners access to its airwaves in the format of a three-to-four minute largely unfiltered commentary because we think it’s important to find out what’s in the hearts and minds of our community. Very few radio stations, public or commercial, do so in this way. But I would assert that WBFO has a right, if not an obligation, to exert editorial control over what is presented on its airwaves without being charged with censorship.

Mark Scott

WBFO News Director

editor’s note: This explanation for rejecting Walter Simpson’s monthly commentary was first offered to Simpson by Carole Smith Petro, WBFO’s associate vice president and general manager, but only after the fact. At the time that WBFO rejected the commentary that appeared in Artvoice, Simpson was told that the reason for so doing was that a previous commentary critical of Israel had precipitated complaints from listeners. That’s all that was reported in the editor’s note to which Mark Scott refers. No one argued that WBFO should be unedited, and no one at Artvoice accuses WBFO of censorship, which is the official suppression of information or opinion and not the exercise of editorial privilege. The difference between “canceled” and “feel free to submit but it’s not your job anymore” is pretty thin; if Smith Petro said the same thing to Scott, I suspect he’d feel he’d been fired. WBFO can certainly change its programming whenever it wants, but a new program must “cancel” an old one. —geoff kelly

re: israel and palestine

Israel has a right to exist. Yahweh gave the Israelites the Jewish land 6,000 years ago. (Give or take a day or two.) After hundreds of years of slavery. It was confirmed in 1948 when the UN made it official. The Palestinians have a right to live there. Hezbollah is a confirmed enemy of Israel. Vowing to push Israel back into the sea.

Let’s not confuse the two. Let’s not confuse the US’s support of Israel with George Bush either. George Bush is the worst president we’ve ever had. He’s a war-mongering, evil, lying son-of-a-bitch! Bush and Hezbollah serve the same master.

Why can’t we have peace? Ask the Hezbollah and the George Bush fanatics!

Anthony Gensicki