2002-02-23 / Columnists


In Next week’s Wave, you will find a survey that will allow this paper to better serve both you and your community. We would appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to fill it out and return it to the Wave offices. One lucky respondent will win a gift certificate to Tiberio’s Italian restaurant on Beach 116 Street. Please take the time to help us to help you!

There have been a number of calls and visits to The Wave arguing that we had neither the right nor the obligation to publish certain letters in last week’s paper that enraged various segments of the community. The editorial staff of The Wave believes that we do have an obligation to print diverse points of view, no matter how abhorrent those views might be to us personally. That obligation grows out of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right of free speech. One visitor to The Wave office on Saturday morning told us that we have to "draw the line somewhere." We ask him and others who agree with him, "Who draws the line and where should that line be drawn?" Our line may very well be different from yours, and by drawing the line, we may trample your right to free speech. That is not the job of a newspaper, even a community weekly. If you decry the letters and the opinions they represent, then write a letter of your own. State your opinion. Make your opinion known to the community. That is the way a free society deals with ideas, even abhorrent or morally repugnant ideas. Stifling speech is never the way to honor our Constitution or our free society.

Here is an example of what we were speaking of in the item above. Ted Turner, better known as the "Mouth of the South," said last week that the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center last September 11 were "brave." He also compared President Bush’s recent actions to those of Julius Caesar. "I think that those men were, at the very least, very brave," Turner told an audience of students at Brown University. "The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people out there living in poverty." We really disagree with Turner’s statements and with his ideas. Does he, however, have the right to his opinion and to have his opinion heard? Of course, he does. So did his wife, Hanoi Jane, when she sat on a Vietcong antiaircraft gun and said that she was glad that American pilots were getting shot down. Do we like it? Of course not. Did she have a right to say it? Of course she did. That is what America is all about.

Another hero of our youth is gone. Frank Corsetti was the shortstop for the New York Yankees from 1932 until 1948. We first saw him play on opening day of the 1947 season, so he was at the tail end of his career by that time, but his ability to "get to the ball" was undimmed even at that late date. Altogether, "Cro" spent 37 years with the Yankees as both player and coach. He took part in 23 World Series, more than any other player, coach or manager who ever lived. He died at 91 last week, and he was the last tie to that team we watched play in our first baseball game 55 years ago.

Once again, the city and its politicians are talking about waterfront development without once mentioning Rockaway. How can that be? The map that ran with a recent article on the "Ten Worst Waterfront Wastes" stops at Staten Island as its southernmost point. No mention of Coney Island. No mention of Rockaway. This peninsula is arguably the most extensive waterfront property in the city, most of it going to waste or to seed. Where are our local politicians to put in the good word for Rockaway?

The new cargo facility that is being built on Rockaway Turnpike across from JFK Airport will have a big impact on drivers leaving the east end of Rockaway heading for the Belt Parkway or eastbound to Long Island. A meeting to address the problems the new facility may cause was held recently in Nassau County and nobody from Rockaway was invited to attend. Why? "This is a Queens project that affects none of the communities in Queens," the mayor of Atlantic Beach told the meeting. "This affects only the Five Towns, and our traffic is going to be jammed up the kazoo." There is no doubt that it will impact many who live in Rockaway, and we should therefore have a voice in the project as well.

Harry G. will hold another fundraiser Doo Wop concert at Beach Channel High School on Saturday, April 20. Expected to attend are such groups as the Drifters, the Del Vikings, Lenny Coco and the Chimes and Johnny and Joe. Watch the pages of The Wave for ticket information.

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) hearing scheduled for the Beach Club last Thursday was postponed because some of the company officials where "held up at another meeting" and could not make it on time. That shows a certain amount of disrespect on the part of LIPA to the Rockaway residents and activists who got to the meeting on time. It is like saying that "my time is important, but your time is not, so we will make you wait for us." That is not the way to do business in Rockaway.

Those who want to see Clare Droesch, the Belle Harbor native who plays so well for Boston College in action can do so on Saturday, February 23, when she visits St. John’s University for a game against the Lady Johnnies. The game begins at 2 p.m. at the college gymnasium.

Parents and students at Beach Channel High School are reportedly up in arms that a teacher who had been suspended earlier in the year for "assaulting a student," has been ordered returned to the school by the Queens superintendent. Parents and students told The Wave that the school’s principal, Bernard Gassaway, has threatened to quit if the teacher is returned, but we have not been able to check that out since this week is a school holiday. Keep tuned to The Wave for further details.

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