"Throwing mud at His Holiness"

Readers lash out at Christopher Farah for his report on the Dalai Lama's talk in Central Park.

By Salon Staff

Published September 29, 2003 8:11PM (EDT)

[Read "Dharma in the Park," by Christopher Farah.]

I am not a religious man and I find other people's decisions connected to their gods to be symbolic of their lack of faith in themselves and their own minds. Even so, I respect people's right to follow their own path without me having to correct them.

I have read about the Dalai Lama and believe he is a person of unending compassion and love, someone who seems totally safe from petty criticism. He is not a sensationalist, not one to make sweeping generalizations that are negative toward groups of people. Being exiled for so many years, struggling to inspire world opinion enough to make a change in Tibet, has been a difficult challenge for him. Certainly he should be above attack, even from a convinced atheist such as myself. He just doesn't deserve it.

Still, though, Christopher Farah found it amusing to find quirky ways to throw mud at His Holiness. If the pope came to Central Park to speak, would Mr. Farah find it funny that the old man might have fallen asleep as he was speaking? Would he have found the pope's shaky, Parkinson's-ridden body hilarious? I would think not.

Christopher Farah has managed to be rude and inconsiderate of the spiritual leader of millions of Buddhists throughout the world. And he poked fun at the throngs who made a "pilgrimage" to Central Park to see a living legend. This article should not have been published in Salon.

-- Charlie Arbuiso

I was surprised that your only coverage of the Dalai Lama's visit to New York was written by someone who had no knowledge of Buddhism, religion or any interest in the political situation in China and Tibet.

Salon doesn't run political articles by ill-informed yahoos (or at least not often). The sports column is written by an ardent fan. The technology pieces are written by people with a deep interest in technology. Yet, it is acceptable to provide religious coverage by a snarky writer?

I'm not against a "man on the street" view. However, I like to see balanced articles written by knowledgeable informed writers. It shouldn't be too hard to find somebody with some knowledge of eastern religions, philosophy and current spiritual issues to round out your coverage.

-- Dan Margolis

Your article on the Dalai Lama's visit was sadly clichéd. Instead of devoting so much space to his pop cultural references and ability to transform everything into a witty turn of phrase, the author might have spent some time finding out who the Dalai Lama is, and what his influence means for our generation.

-- Jennifer Coonce

Farah's article was entirely uninformative. I did not gain any sense as to the content of the Dalai Lama's message that day. If I learned anything, it was that being enlightened does not necessitate one speaking fluent English, but I already knew that. There was no insightful commentary or thoughtful observation, only the disparagement of everyone in the author's plane of vision. There was much potential for an article here -- a person's first experience with Buddhism, seeing the eclectic bunch that turned up for this talk, discussing some of the problems people have with the Dalai Lama, or any number of perspectives. p>

-- Rebecca Graber

Salon Staff

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