Prayer lawsuit equal to terrorism
I’m not too happy with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the city
of Burbank’s appeal to overturn a ban on religious prayers at City
Irv Rubin was not a citizen of Burbank. He did not live here, or
understand the needs of our community. He came here with an agenda,
and was looking for a fight.
I think that his action against this city amounts to legal
terrorism and I am glad that City Council had the courage to stand up
to it. I also find comfort in the knowledge that those who represent
me in this city are willing to be accountable to an understanding
higher than their own. It makes for better government, because
justice is not really man’s idea.
The fight for religious speech as free speech will no doubt
continue to rage on in this country. Both sides have the personal
liberty to make their choices and express their views. Yet freedom is
much bigger than mere personal liberty. A lawsuit was initiated
against this city by a man exercising his personal liberty. He was
“offended” by a sectarian prayer. With freedom of speech comes
listening to people you don’t agree with. Yet I think one who is
truly free does not have to go around silencing those he or she
doesn’t agree with, as this lawsuit did. It’s a matter of respecting
differences. Such an atmosphere of respect is the very foundation of
freedom, because there will always be differences between us. This
ruling degrades the very foundation upon which our freedoms rest.
It is sad, though perhaps poetically fitting, that the plaintiff
in this lawsuit ended his days as the prisoner I believe he was. A
prisoner to prejudice, anger and violence, who, in the final
analysis, was unwilling to face the consequences of his own actions.
This is not a legacy to celebrate. And so, I weep for Mr. Rubin, as
well as for the rest of us. And make no mistake, the legacy we are in
real danger of being left with is one in which personal agendas and
political correctness rule, because the unseen but ever-present
referee is becoming unwelcome.
Vote could have profound implications
I appreciate Laura Sturza’s fair and balanced report in the June 7
Leader on the upcoming SAG/AFTRA merger vote. However, in simply
reporting two separate viewpoints, the bigger issue was overlooked.
The national vote to consolidate the two unions will be one of the
most significant labor events to envelop the entertainment industry.
It will certainly have a profound effect on many of the actors,
newspeople and recording artists living and working in Burbank, where
the heart of the industry beats daily.
The result of a “no” vote victory will have far greater
consequences than the “yes” victory. They may not want to admit it,
but these two unions are under great pressure to survive; the recent
FCC ruling to expand corporate media ownership is just the beginning
of what could be in store for all performers.
Corporate Hollywood is waiting for these talent unions to go under
and they are quietly thriving on the confusion most members are
presently dealing with over this merger. It is astounding that the
advocates of the “no” vote do not see that the real struggle is
against an already consolidated corporate community that is clearly
destined to become even stronger. They chose instead to fight one
another, and that disunity and lack of understanding as to who the
real enemy is will eventually spell the end to both unions.
The current plan to consolidate is a good one. It is not perfect,
and has big questions that must be dealt with quickly. But the
supporters of the “no” vote have not offered any more of a solution
than the problem, stating simply, “If you have doubts, vote ‘no.’ ”
The first merger attempt failed because it was not thought out.
This present plan has been worked out much better. And if given a
chance, it will succeed in placing all performers under its
protection -- a better opportunity for survival. The fears expressed
on most sets have to do with the question of trust. As one actor
recently told me, “When it comes to business, there is no trust.”
Well, this time, it is all we have, and we must put that kind of
blind fear aside. It is time to try to understand who the real enemy
is in this fight. It is time to trust that the leadership of our
unions will indeed make every attempt to solve all the problems this
merger will run into as it unfolds.
Most of the information out there is misinformation supplied by
the “no” advocates, who just may be feeling their little fiefdoms are
about to come to an end. And the corporate suits are thrilled because
they are betting against our inability to unite. They are counting on
exactly what we seem to be giving them as long as we continue to
fight internally. The real heart of the matter is survival -- not
losing the SAG or AFTRA logos. As to the question of doubt, there is
not doubt that if this merger goes down in defeat, corporate
Hollywood wins. And wins big time.
JOSEPH DI SANTE,
SAG and AFTRA member