Fort Lauderdale's WFTL-AM (850) talk-radio host Joyce Kaufman is smelling conspiracy everywhere lately. She has hooked up with those zany folks over at the Florida Security Council and believes that there's a radical Muslim hiding under every rock. "I am obsessed with exposing radical Islam," Kaufman told us by phone. "Sharia law is infiltrating my society, and if something isn't done about it, America will fall. I'm just addressing these issues in an open and honest way. Islam needs to go through a major reformation; it's a nontolerant religion. You had the same thing with Christianity, the Crusades, early on, and eventually Christianity was reformed. I look at London; I have friends who can't live there anymore. The same thing is happening here."
Even the high stink of the popcorn machine at Shadowood movie theaters in Boca can't throw her off the scent of a secret plot. When Kaufman and a group of friends went to see The Stoning of Soraya M. last Sunday, a film about the dire effects of Muslim sharia on a woman living in a small Iranian town, she and her group were turned away at the door.
A lens on the projector was broken, they were told. And no, they couldn't bump one of the kids' movies showing and screen Soraya instead of Transformers.
"The manager was like an 18-year-old kid, and he was nervous. We asked him if he knew what the movie was about, and he had no idea," Kaufman says.
It's a controversial film -- maybe you don't want to show it to us, one of Kaufman's friends suggested.
When we phoned Shadowood this week, a manager told us they'd had a power failure that night that blacked out one of the projectors. But they were showing the movie at its regularly scheduled times for the rest of the week. Had al Qaeda perhaps cut the power lines? We phoned FPL and were put on hold for a really long time.
But Kaufman may be on to something. When we showed up at the Delray I8 to see Soraya last night at 6:40, the girl at the window had no idea what movie the couple in front of us was referring to when they asked for tickets to The Stoning. After a minute, she told them that the show was "sold out."
"That's impossible," the husband, a skinny guy in his late 60s, told her, looking around in bafflement at the deserted entrance. "Nobody is coming to see this movie."
We allowed as how we were there to see Soraya too. The girl looked confused.
A telephone call to the manager resolved the issue: Yes, the movie was on the bill. No, the movie was not sold out. The elderly couple got their tickets. When it came to our turn, though, the tickets that printed out were... blank!
Another call to the manager, who hurried over mopping sweat from his plump brow. He was trying hard not to be annoyed with the ticket taker while he showed her how to correctly load the paper into the ticket machine. Thanks to his intervention, we finally got our tickets. Someone had clearly tampered with the machine; maybe even the girl in the ticket booth was in on it and her incompetence was just a carefully rehearsed act. Could that blinking red light in the ceiling be a hidden camera?
It was off to the snack bar for popcorn, where we ordered a large. But when it came time to pay the $7, our debit card was... declined!
Certainly there was a conspiracy to keep us from seeing the movie or at least from fully enjoying it with popcorn. There were four other people in the theater when we got there. Empty rows of seats yawned. Hordes of filmgoers eager to see Soraya had somehow been diverted. We wondered if the police force had set up a traffic blockade under the direction of CAIR organizers.
This movie is very difficult to watch. Based on a true story, it's about an Iranian housewife whose husband accuses her of adultery because he wants to marry a 14-year-old girl. A cabal of male elders is convened, she is found guilty, and I'm not ruining the plot to tell you she is stoned to death, in vivid detail, during a 20-minute sequence that feels like hours. At the end of the movie, she is a bloody pulp of rags. Depending on your perspective, you could read this parable in several ways:
1) All men are evil and should be exterminated from the face of the Earth.
2) Organized religion sucks big time.
3) Muslims are crazy.
4) There's a little Hitler in every town and lots of acolytes ready to serve his bidding.
5) Human nature and human culture sometimes collide in extreme ways.
Kaufman, in her current incarnation as scourge of illegal immigrants and old car mufflers; protector of Floridians from Muslim-backed terrorism; and defender of the free speech of Geert Wilders -- would choose option 3 and run with it.