Monday, July 06, 2009

Is There Something In The Water In Lakewood?

I'm left to wonder if there is some mass-xenophobia outbreak going on in Lakewood. Two troubling letters have appeared in the past week from the Lakewood community -- and both are troubling not because of what they describe, but because of the writer's attitudes.

First this letter from a Lakewood resident decrying the non-yeshiva Orthodox Jews who moved in and "ruined" Lakewood.

Now, this letter from "A Sheitel Wearer" who complains about Lakewood women who wear snoods (or other non-sheitel head coverings). To her, they aren't "dignified" enough.

Both letters have one disturbing element in common - they are written by people who look down at others and decide that they aren't good enough to be seen around town.

The Wolf

(Note: I also want to leave open the possibility that either or both letters may be fakes. I don't know what sort of process Matzav or Lakewood Scoop uses to screen their letters.)

ADDENDUM: OTD seems to think the above is "making excuses" for the Lakewood residents. I view the above note as a disclaimer. What's your opinion? Feel free to comment.

The Wolf

38 comments:

Off the Derech said...

I'm sick and tired of your excuse that they "may be fakes." It's a dumb red herring.

BrooklynWolf said...

OTD,

Do you know the letters to be from authentic Lakewood residents? I don't.

I'm sorry if my giving a disclaimer to my readers that I can't verify the accuracy of the letters makes you "sick and tired."

The Wolf

Off the Derech said...

That's BS. you have absolutely no reason to suspect their fakes. Maybe they were written by aliens too?

If you want your blog to be about BS, that's your choice. Wait, you're frum. You don't have much of a choice.

BrooklynWolf said...

Oh, for heaven's sake -- what is it with you? You don't think there is *any* chance that it might have been written by someone looking to poison the well?

I grant you that they sound authentic (and hence the reason I posted about them in the first place). But I also think that there is small chance (but significant enough) that they might not be real that I felt I owed my viewers a disclaimer.

I'm sorry if that troubles you. What would you rather -- that I didn't comment on the letters at all? Or just take it at face value that since they're real.

As an aside, you and I may disagree, which is fine and well. But when I comment on your blog, I *always* treat you with courtesy and respect. Can I ask for the same from you?

The Wolf

Off the Derech said...

>You don't think there's *any* chance?...

You don't think there's any chance they were written by aliens?

What you're doing is making excuses. And that's not fair.

G*3 said...

Its interesting that most of the commenters on both the sites thought that the letters were over the line.

I would say that what teh two letters have in common is that they were both written by people sure that their way is the only proper way, and others should conform to it. Neither one seems able to conceive of the possibility that other approaches might be legitimate. The closest they seem to come is a couple of commenters who said something to the effect of, "We shouldn't drive these people away with our intolerance, but instead should be an example to them and be accepting until they reach our madrega." Arrogent and condescending.

Why should more restrictive = better?

Anonymous said...

I think that Lakewood has poisoned its own well. When you look at the extreme crazy points of view, I think it puts many of these people outside the realm of Judaism.

BrooklynWolf said...

What you're doing is making excuses.

OTD -- I did *not* make excuses. I issued a disclaimer about the potential accuracy of the letters. Can't you see the difference between the two?

An excuse is "but this isn't bad because...." A disclaimer is "I can't say for sure that this is accurate...."

If I wanted to excuse the purported behavior, I would not have criticized it.

The Wolf

Off the Derech said...

Bulls**t

Off the Derech said...

But I'll tell you what: since you're so sure it's a perfectly justified disclaimer and can't be construed as an excuse, why don't you put up the question in a poll for your readers?

BrooklynWolf said...

Fine, whatever. If you want to insist that I'm making excuses (when I've explained how I'm not), I guess I can't stop you.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

I don't like putting polls up, but I'm more than willing to let people chime in their opinions here in the comment thread.

(FTR, my previous comment was posted before you put up your poll suggestion.)

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

OTD,

I modified the post with an addendum, inviting people to chime in on whether my note is a excuse or a disclaimer.

The Wolf

Off the Derech said...

Okay.
All I'm saying is that the disclaimer can be interpreted as an excuse. I'm not accusing it of being a blatant, or shameless, excuse.
I'll be happy to debate anyone on this. We'll see if they have the cajones.

E-Man said...

Letters of questionable authenticity can always be questioned, why would this be the exception? If they were letters to real newspapers that would be one thing, however, they are letters to newspapers with less than stellar credibility.

Anyway, who cares, it is your website wolf, you can do whatever you want.

I do think that these letters show the overall attitude of several charaidi communities though. No tolerance for people that hold of halachic authorities other than theirs. No?

Sam said...

OTD,

Yup, I think you're being rude up there. He's trying to be thoughtful and leave open a possibility of error before we all run to judgement of many people, even though the gist of the post is not in that direction.

I think that's a nice trait (even though I judged these people long ago), and it's not excusing anything. You can say that the disclaimer is unlikely, or that we shouldn't even consider the benefit of the doubt because such people wouldn't give it to others. Frankly, though, I respect taking the moral high ground nonetheless.

I don't really see why you're putting up such a fuss here. Besides which, BW is pretty courteous, and I think deserves the same courtesy of language in response.

tesyaa said...

Too bad the comments are mostly an argument and not a substantive discussion of the post.

To get back to the post, if you even care:

The people who don't like neighborhoods changing can't deal with change, period. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

The sheitel letter is just plain silly. When Americans wear sweatsuits and ripped jeans everywhere, why is a snood with an otherwise neat and clean, and probably tailored, outfit, such an outrage? Get a grip, lady!

With so many real problems in the community, the rantings of a few slightly unbalanced people shouldn't get too much attention.

Off the Derech said...

>I'll be happy to debate anyone on this.
Okay, not E-Man or Sam. Someone normal. G*3, for example.

joshwaxman said...

i don't think it is making excuses. and when criticizing, it does make sense to note this possibility. it shows an awareness in the weaknesses in one's own position, which is intelligent. at the last lakewoodscoop thread (on your "nees" are showing), for example, in the comment thread there was at least one comment which was a troll, as was made clear when the fellow admitted to it on the DovBear thread about it. it is quite possible they unwittingly published a troll (where a sheitel-wearer criticizes snood-wearers, instead of the opposite). of course, that they posted it might well show that they agree with the message...

Commenter Abbi said...

Wolf, I think OTD has serious mental/emotional issues. Arguing with him is pointless.

And I think it's fine to bar people who need to resort to expletives, even censored ones, to make a point.

My brother expressed shock to me today that his Sephardi nephew has been rejected from a number of Yeshiva gedolas in JM just for being Sephardi (he was told point blank by a number of them that their "Sephardi quotas" were already filled, sorry.) There is a horrible xenophobic racist streak in the charedi community. It's very sad.

E-Man said...

Just to set the record straight, I was not trying to debate with OTD, I was just sending a message to the Wolf. The Wolf said feel free to comment so I did. Why would I try to debate anything with someone like OTD?

ProfK said...

Academic writing requires that all material from outside sources be properly cited. However, it also requires that a writer understand that all sources are not "created equal" and that some sources are held to be more valid, in the sense of more truthful, more ethical than others. The writer has an obligation to tell readers that he or she cannot assure the reader of the veracity of the material presented, only where the material was presented. This is not considered making excuses. The disclaimer serves as a "let the buyer be ware" statement.

There was nothing wrong in making the disclaimer. Strictly from a writing point of view, however, I would not have made the statement separately from the body of the posting but would have included it as an opinion statement in introducing the material, something along the lines of "I cannot swear as to the truth or falsity of the following, but there were two letters published...."

As to OTD's throwing out of crude slang terms, if he's going to do it, could he at least spell the word right?!!

Off the Derech said...

JW: >i don't think it is making excuses.

Can it be interpreted as an excuse?

Off the Derech said...

>My brother expressed shock to me today that his Sephardi nephew has been rejected from a number of Yeshiva gedolas in JM just for being Sephardi (he was told point blank by a number of them that their "Sephardi quotas" were already filled, sorry.) There is a horrible xenophobic racist streak in the charedi community. It's very sad.


Wolf, I think Commenter Abbi has serious mental/emotional issues.

Off the Derech said...

ProfK: >The writer has an obligation to tell readers that he or she cannot assure the reader of the veracity of the material presented

Do you think this disclaimer would have been made if it was a letter that refelected positively on the frum community? Be honest, please. I believe there is a double standard here, where anything that reflects poorly on Judaism is subjected to *extreme* criticism, while things that appear poitive for religion are given a free pass.

>could he at least spell the word right?!!

Sooorry. Cojones.*

BrooklynWolf said...

I believe there is a double standard here, where anything that reflects poorly on Judaism is subjected to *extreme* criticism, while things that appear poitive for religion are given a free pass.

I'm confused... you want me to criticize the positive?? You want me to criticize when Jews give tzedaka or keep the mitzvos or make a kiddush HaShem?

The Wolf

Off the Derech said...

>I'm confused... you want me to criticize the positive??

I don't think you're addressing my point.. Your disclaimer was allegedly about intellectual honesty and veracity, while I'm pointing out that it only goes one way. That's all.

I believe by throwing in vague conspiracy theories like "maybe it's forged" you poison the well, throw in a red herring, and deflect attention from the problem at hand. Again, if it was a necessary disclaimer, it would be extended in all situations, not just ones that happen to reflect poorly on frum yidden.

For the sake of integrity, I think you may have to concede the point.

BrooklynWolf said...

and deflect attention from the problem at hand.

If I wanted to deflect attention from the problem at hand, I would not have posted in the first place.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

I don't think you're addressing my point.. Your disclaimer was allegedly about intellectual honesty and veracity, while I'm pointing out that it only goes one way. That's all.

Can you please give me an example where I gave the positive a "free pass" as you claim?

The Wolf

Off the Derech said...

>If I wanted to deflect attention from the problem at hand, I would not have posted in the first place.

Not exactly. I'm not accusing you of gross coverup, and head-in-the-sand syndrome. You aren't like that. You're willing to air the frum world's dirty laundry, as it were, to an extent. However, you do deflect attention in more minor ways, as I'm accusing you of doing with this disclaimer.

That said, I respect your honesty. Again, I don't think you're being quite as honest as you should be here, but I think you're far more honest, in general, than far too many frum male bloggers, Garnel and to a lesser extent, E-Man. Those kinds of bloggers I hardly have an ounce of respect for.

Off the Derech said...

>Can you please give me an example where I gave the positive a "free pass" as you claim?

That is a fair point. I can try to find some relevant posts.

BrooklynWolf said...

And please - OTD, and everyone else -- let's lay off the ad hominem attacks and stick to the issues, okay?

The Wolf

G*3 said...

> Someone normal. G*3, for example.

Thank you, I think.

Out of curiosity, what makes me “normal?”
(Don’t really like that term. “Normal” usually means “like me,” with “me” being whoever is talking.)

Anyway, Brooklyn Wolf is among the politest people and has one of the most balanced viewpoints out here in blog-land. While you’re certainly entitled to disagree with him, there’s no reason to be rude. And you’re complaint is really nitpicking. You don’t think a disclaimer is necessary – fine, so noted.

Off the Derech said...

>you’re complaint is really nitpicking

Can you elaborate on how you arrived at that judgment? Do you think there is any good reason to think it's forged? Would you have issued the same disclaimer on your own blog? Would you expect a similar disclaimer on things that reflect positively on frumkeit?

Happy said...

If you want to know what's wrong with Lakewood, don't check their water supply; check their bookshelves.

G*3 said...

> Can you elaborate on how you arrived at that judgment? Do you think there is any good reason to think it's forged?

Sure. It’s of little consequence, and technically he’s right, even if the disclaimer is a little superfluos. So he wants to soften the blow a little when writing about crazy people. So what. Also, I’ve heard from yeshiva guys that they sometimes go on sites like these and write outrageous things to rile people up. So the disclaimer has some justification.

I really want to know. Why do you think I'm normal and the others you named aren't?

Off the Derech said...

>I really want to know. Why do you think I'm normal and the others you named aren't?

Heh. It's nothing special. Compared to Garnel, most people are normal.

G*3 said...

I see.