As Ian noted in the Open Thread, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal reports:
For some perspective on the recent “debate” over “civility” and “eliminationist rhetoric,” let’s turn to Montana, home of the Missoula Children’s Theater. A recent production there gets a bad review today in a letter to the editor of the Missoulian, the local daily:
Open letter to MCT director Curt Olds:
First I would like to compliment you and the entire staff of “The Mikado” on the beautiful sets, costuming and professional performance we experienced on Sunday, Jan. 23. However, I must call you on something that was inserted into the play which I am almost positive was not in the original book.
The comments made in such a cavalier and oh-so-humorous way were uncalled for. Now, I realize you play to a mostly liberal audience in Missoula and so, I am sure, felt comfortable in your calling for the beheading of Sarah Palin. I am painfully aware that most in the audience tittered with laughter and clapped because “no one would miss her” but there were some in your audience who took great offense to this “uncivil tone” about another human being.
We are in the midst of a crisis that took place in Tucson where many started pointing fingers at that horrible right wing with all their hatred and targeting and standing for the second amendment and on and on and on. So, here we are in a lovely play with beautiful voices serenading us and we have to hear that it is okay to call for the killing of Sarah Palin because we don’t like her and no one would miss her. Unbelievable.
As a professional you should be ashamed of yourself, the audience should be ashamed of themselves and I am ashamed of myself for not standing up and leaving at that very moment. I would like to see an apology from you not because I want to hinder free-speech but for the hypocrisy this so clearly shows.
Rory Page, Clinton
Well, perhaps Olds made a clerical error and one of Andrew Sullivan’s works got into the Arthur Sullivan file.
In all seriousness, though, like much of what we have been writing about in the past few weeks, this incident is shocking but not surprising. For all the bogus accusations being thrown at Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, genuinely hateful political rhetoric is commonplace in the art world, even in art that is not overtly political.
You can read the piece in it’s entirety here.
Art itself is not overtly political, but a great number of artists are. Being an artist myself, having attended an art college, I am familiar with the prevailing mindset of many in the trade. A left-leaning, sometimes perverse, and poorly informed demographic, if there ever there was one.
This little spectacle at the Missoula Children’s Theater no less, is indicative of a bigger issue. The recent calls for “civility” from the left are, as most of us have figured out, a complete farce. For years, the left have used many avenues of communication such as art and literature to dehumanize and vilify their political opposites. Their tone can be vicious and at times, violent.
Yesterday, Alan Colmes insinuated that it was a “crazy right-wing conspiracy” to suggest that the left’s call for civility is nothing more than an attempt to silence their opposition. I think the actions of Curt Olds and his “liberal” audience prove the left’s mindset, thereby highlighting the lack of sincerity when they speak about a “new tone” in our political dialog. Go ahead and count this as just another example of left-wing America’s glaring hypocrisy.
Update: Warner Todd Huston from Rightpundits is reporting that Michael McGill, the Director of the Missoula Community Theater has “apologized.” The apology reads:
I am sorry that the satirical reference to Sarah Palin has offended some of our patrons. Gilbert & Sullivan were well-known as satirists, addressing the social and cultural issues of their day—aristocracy, government, etc…. Some of the lyrics performed in The Mikado around the country today reflect the issues and topics of our time. We know that “MCT” means many things to many people—and we are blessed with passionate, loyal audiences, here in Missoula and around the world. In this instance, however, we are talking about an MCT Community Theatre production (not to be confused with a Missoula Children’s Theatre production). Although MCT Community Theatre did not pen the lyrics that were found to be offensive, we have taken the action of removing them from this production. It is my hope that the audiences will appreciate the hard work, artistry and beauty within this MCT Community Theatre production of The Mikado.
Well, he clarified that the play was not a children’s production, which is good I guess. However, he did not apologize for what was said or the sentiment expressed, he merely apologized that people were offended. Which is really no apology at all.