New York Waiter Charged Criminally For Playing Arabic Chant at Jewish Wedding

thumb_wedding_jewish_weddingStephen Buttafuoco, 23, is the subject of a rather curious criminal charge. He was a waiter at a wedding at the Woodbury Jewish Center when the guests suddenly began to hear an Arabic chant praising Allah. Buttafuoco, who aptly lives in West Babylon, New York, insists that he was playing a recording for a friend and did not realize that it was being amplified to the room. He was charged with felony harassment.

Buttafuoco is not Muslim and is the son of a former Marine and pastor in Babylon – Rev. Daniel Buttafuoco of the Gateway Life Center on George Street in Babylon. His son made the recording at a rally opposing the Israeli Gaza offensive where people chanted “Allah Akbar.”

It seems a bit odd that the waiter (who happens to oppose the operation) would not realize that the chant was being picked up by the sound system.

There does remain the question of the necessity of a criminal charge in such a case, however. Originally, the police said that he would be charged with interrupting a religious service, but that charge appeared not to fit the facts.

For the full story, click here.

15 thoughts on “New York Waiter Charged Criminally For Playing Arabic Chant at Jewish Wedding”

  1. Mike:
    Read my previous post carefully. I am not stereotyping but in the interest of brevity I mentioned just the key points. In my post, I was amply clear about “nations” like Saudi Arabia. They have used their petro $ to radicalize poor & uneducated people in many countries. We thus have madrasas galore in Pakistan, Afghanistan and even in Malayasia a modern country in many ways. All are now putting in place blasphemy laws and 2nd class citizenships for non-muslims etc. And the best part is we sold (and still sell !!) weapons to them as part of the Cold war strategy. The post Reagan years (1980 onwards) have been a disaster in every way. My point to you is, has Israel abused the unconditional support and money given? Again, my critique is to leaders of organizations and countries who become hydra headed monsters. The Christian Right along with Bush-Cheney have clearly not represented our values. Should not democracy require higher standards? Yes, we have to address terrorism strongly but it should not be wild and indiscriminate, for it ends up fueling the cycle. I am getting off topic now so happy 2009…

  2. “I expect more from the Jewish community as they are educated and largely well off.”

    What’s sad about you, because you probably are a principled individual is that you have no insight into what it is you don’t know and into the ridiculousness of your statements. I was the first member of my Jewish family to get a college degree. My father and mother both dropped out of high school. My brother finished High School, but chose the Navy instead. My father was always tight for money. For my first 12 years we lived with 5 people in an 800 sq. ft. apartment, or lived with relatives. When my parents both died by the time I was eighteen I had to work my way through college and lived in a furnished room. My primary job was as a Civil Servant for 32 years and a second job was a psychotherapy practice. I’ve even had to drive limos as a second job to ensure that my family had the wherewithal. Sound well off to you? Guess what? Most of my friends who are Jewish have similar stories. You are repeating stereotypes and you don’t even know it. Your statement is like saying black people are all great dancers.

    You don’t like Abe Foxman and his statements, neither do I. I have never contributed to any major Jewish group like AIPAC because I disagree with their views. Guess what? The majority of American Jews actually want peace in the ME and they vote overwhelmingly liberal. Foxman and the AIPAC crowd are generally Republican leaning. Are they rich? Yes, I guess they are but they don’t represent me, or most Jews, just as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are rich and don’t represent most Christians.

    You expect more from the Jewish community, why is that? I know that the concept is hard for you but Jews are just like other human beings, some good, some bad and most in the middle. You are stereotyping in a way that is bigoted and offensive. I understand from your comment that you are an equal opportunity offender, but does that justify stereotyping and pre-judgment. I
    suggest that your heart is in the right place in that you oppose oppression, but for you to really provide principled opposition you need to examine the false premises within which some of your opinions are formed. If you don’t than you’re just as bad as the oppressors you decry and if given power you’d wind up as an oppressor too.

    I take this time because I sense you’re not a bad person, just someone to whom introspection is foreign, we get to the lynch pin of your argument. The undue influence of the Jewish Lobby on the US government. How would you compare that with the influence of the Saudi’s on the US government? How would you compare that with the influence of the Oil Companies on the news media that they give advertising billions to? How would you compare that with the Evangelicals who have done so much to harm our educational and health care problems?

    I don’t like AIPAC, but they’re just one among many and there’s a lot more money on the many side. The deal is this: The Saudi’s, the Oil Companies and their co-despots in the ME need a besieged Israel to provide the “bogeyman” keeping the eyes of their oppressed masses off of the misery of their lives. AIPAC is easily manipulated by them into keeping the argument going and is really dimly aware of what’s needed to really make peace. The Saudi’s, et. al. have been the financiers and the manipulators of the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, etc., in order to keep the discord going and remain in power. In a sense the Saudi’s are a chief supporter of Israel, since Israel’s destruction, would mean that they’re next in the eyes of the Arab masses.

    All is not what it seems and propaganda is the order of the day.
    Meanwhile people die in an endless game of payback, whose manipulators make billions and maintain obscene lifestyles off of the backs of their masses, who they control with the Israeli bogeyman and a perversion of the Islamic faith. I don’t dispute your atheism with you, but it would be nice if it was based on a
    greater depth of knowledge and wasn’t colored by false pre-judgments that expose a bigotry of thought of which you are blissfully unaware.

  3. Seamus and Mespo,
    I agree that there must be a Joey B affirmative defense available to this character. It must be in the statute books somewhere.

  4. I have brought this issue (and similar ones) with reasonable people of all faiths and they do see it as a problem but fear to bring it up in public. Why are people like Tony Judt, Mearshimer, Walt and Finkelstein being smeared for any criticism of Jewish ideology or even Israeli foreign policy? I am willing to take criticism but over the years in academia, I have just become tired of bullying by Foxman et. al. for any and every imagined threat. Now the latest enemy is Jimmy Carter! Why is it that Israel allows torture? Its recent action in Gaza makes it comparable to reactionary radical Islamic States. I do care because it distorts our Constitutional democracy. America gives out billions in aid for torture? I have no problem with tax funded aid as long as it goes towards real relief. And by the way, it is not Jewish people but the vested powerful organizations that claim to represent all of Jewry that present the problem. This is not unique, for Corporations have done the same thing.
    My initial questions do remain valid. Why is it that there is so much conformity (at least in public) on this issue? One can take the high road on trivial matters, and in this case, Buttafuoco could have been dealt with quietly with a warning at most. Cops dont have to get in at all. A repeat offense could merit the firing, though I find most people respond quite well after the first time.
    My view comes as an atheist, who finds biblical justifications and the claim of unique suffering etc. to be fundamentally problematic. We are all born without religion, but this poison once injected, perpetuates violence. Islamic countries have lower educational levels and one can understand their holding on to outdated ideologies. I expect more from the Jewish community as they are educated and largely well off. Those few enlightened leaders after WW2 have not been replaced. (where was God when Hitler was running amok)
    I hope you see where I am coming from. It is certainly NOT some fringe David Duke type angle. If it come across the wrong way, I regret that. I am an equal opportunity “offender” and I have had run-ins with a few of my strongly religious family members because the argument is essentially the same.
    I go even further by questioning the need to give tax exemptions to any “Church”. Why subsidize essentially powerful, corrupt, political entities? Having dealt with the priest abuses closely, I have become very suspicious.

  5. seamus:

    I believe there is a special “Buttafuoco Grand Jury” and prosecutor on stand-by.

  6. “Mr. Spindell, why should the guy be ordered off the premesis AND fired? That seems almost as bad. There are other ways. (cut amplification to the room in question etc.).”

    He should be fired because the preponderance of the evidence indicates it was a purposeful act. While this doesn’t rise to “beyond a reasonable doubt” perhaps, if I was the caterer I would feel that I couldn’t trust this employee to separate his political statements from the duties of his job and I would worry about my possible liability for his actions. But then after all the hosts were just rich Jews, feeling victimized, so what do they know beyond trying to make more money from lawsuits?

  7. “I guess if you are God’s chosen with lots of money and political influence and get to claim perpetual victimhood, then of course all bets are off.”

    Do you lack awareness to the extent that you don’t realize that this statement is replete with anti-Jewish stereotypes, not to mention ignorance? I’m not rich and I’m Jewish. Please inform me where I can get my hands on some of that money and privilege. The God’s chosen thing represents a lack of understanding of Jewish Theology that makes sense when you claim to be atheist. After all if you don’t believe in God, why examine others’ beliefs? It has been used historically to castigate Jews by their detractors, however, I really can’t expect that you would understand historical context given the final part of the statement. To wit Jews have suffered almost continual oppression for the last 2,500 years. So when we worry about being victims, or our children being victims, we are only showing awareness of the reality of our existence.

    Your statement about “perpetual victimhood” would seem ridiculous if you applied it to Afro-Americans and/or Native Americans, who have suffered through at least 500 years of genocide, vilification and oppression. I guess to you though, you’re the type who would think “Why are those Indians (sic) complaining with all the casino’s they’ve got.”

    “And I am waiting for the charge of anti-Semitism.”

    Why of course you are Nathan. That was the point of your whole message so you than can turn it back by saying something to the effect of “You see what I mean about those people.” A rather inane and obvious tactic. By the way I personally never use the term anti-Semitic, because it was invented by eugenicists in the 19th Century and they really didn’t like Jews.

    To be factually precise I have no idea if you personally, or on the whole don’t like Jews, I haven’t seen enough of your writings. I will say though, based on this comment that you are either ignorant of Jews, history, theology and economics, or you’re one of those clowns that like to roil the waters because it gives you naughty pleasure. In either event you’re just a silly guy, whose invective needs polishing.

  8. Can’t someone plead “Buttafouco” in the tri-state area?? Isn’t being a member of the Buttafouco family in and of itself some type of afirmative defense to an assorted aray of stupid acts???

    And, shouldn’t there be a special prosecutor in this case, since the asst. d.a. is also clearly a Buttafouco given that these charges were brought in the first place???

  9. I am an atheist, but would this have happened if it was another religious group? Ultimately, it was just a song praising the same God! I guess if you are God’s chosen with lots of money and political influence and get to claim perpetual victimhood, then of course all bets are off. Stupid laws lead to selective enforcement and change the nature of the State. (to a Weimar Republic). This could set a bad precedence. Jewish people should know this. Truly Orwellian though…”You have been charged with whistling a dirty tune”….

    And I am waiting for the charge of anti-Semitism.

    Mr. Spindell, why should the guy be ordered off the premesis AND fired? That seems almost as bad. There are other ways. (cut amplification to the room in question etc.).

    Thank you Mr. Turley for some great insights in general about the law and the Constitution.

  10. Felony harassment?

    This charge was made in Woodbury NY?

    Sounds like someone had some pull in the Nassau PD.

  11. Having attended more Jewish weddings than I can remember music such as a chant would have been discordant, no matter its’ content.
    Criminal charges though are ridiculous. The guy should have been ordered off the premises and fired. End of story.

    I understand your outrage and I’m not far apart from you politically. I think it’s too early though to give up on the guy. Appointments are always window dressing, policy/action/ethics in power are the real test. I think he might pleasantly surprise us all by his performance.

  12. JT, sometime over the next week, I’ll be changing my profile. I don’t even want his name near an e-mail drop address after this.

  13. Off Topic

    So a guy gets arrested for this bullshit and Obama wants to let Bush go. Well, I’ve said I am non-partisan, so now you’ll get to see it. Mr. Obama, I had high hopes for you because as a Constitutional scholar you should know the problems with letting Bush go. Everyone I talk to for the rest of my life I will encourage to IGNORE laws and judicial orders as invalid on their face, but that’s another matter. The real issue is will you take a place history as a Thomas Jefferson or as a Heinrich Brüning. If you think that’s an exaggeration, come back in 12 years after Bush HASN’T been punished and see what the Fascist States of America (Brought to you by our sponsors Exxon and the State of Saudi Arabia) looks like, where the only law is what corporations can buy and justice cannot be had at any price. It won’t be pretty. Also enjoy me and others like me working to remove BOTH parties AND corporations from power. You brought it on yourself. This is OUR government, not YOURS and certainly not THEIRS. And you are about to learn that lesson the hard way, Mr. One Term Should Have Known Better. If you let Bush go, then the Constitution IS just some goddamn piece of paper. If you let Bush go, the terrorists (as in Saudi Arabia) really do win, moron.

    You equivocating prick.

  14. Why wasn’t he working at the time? Does he have an uncle named Joey? It might explain some things.

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