THE MISSOULA CHILDREN'S THEATER HAVE BEEN INVITED TO NEXT YEAR'S STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS (Satire)
EXCERPTED FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL BELOW
Curt Olds, the Lord High Executioner
Eliminationist rhetoric against Sarah Palin: a production of the Missoula Children's Theater.By JAMES TARANTO
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.
Off with her head!
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.
The Missoula incident reminds us of an experience we had in 2005 and wrote about for The Wall Street Journal in 2008. At the invitation of our then-girlfriend, we attended a reading of poems from a book her mother had edited. The poet who served as mistress of ceremonies, Daniela Gioseffi, hijacked the event and turned it into an anti-Republican hate rally. Her rhetoric was not eliminationist--that is, she didn't call for anyone's death--but it was dehumanizing: "You can't be politically disengaged and be human."
Nor is dehumanizing left-wing rhetoric limited to the world of high art. It can be found in popular culture as well. Blogger Howard Portnoy notes a video in which Tracy Morgan, until 2006 a member of the Now Ready for Prime Time Players on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," banters with basketball sportscasters on the TNT cable network. (TNT is part of the Turner Broadcasting System subdivision of Time Warner.)
One of the hosts jocularly asks Morgan: "Tina Fey or Sarah Palin?" Fey was the former "Saturday Night Live" player who returned to the program in 2008 to perform a refulgent impression of the newly famous Palin. Another host elaborates: "Sarah Palin is good-looking, isn't she? Tina Fey is good-looking!"
The query is frivolous, but Morgan's answer is indecent: "Yo, let me tell you something about Sarah Palin, man. She's good masturbation material. The glasses, and all of that? Great masturbation material."
Portnoy observes: "For a liberal male, the degradation of Palin as sexual fodder--which frankly is about as low as one can go in degrading a member of the so-called 'fairer sex'--is a way of dismissing the fact that (like it or not) she is a difference maker in the American body politic. But why is it that the nation's most accomplished liberal females haven't spoken up against this unseemly treatment?"
The answer, as we argued last Wednesday, is that liberal women are the driving force behind hatred of Sarah Palin. But Portnoy's complaint about male liberals--the word "men" doesn't quite seem appropriate here--echoes ours: "Liberal men [sic] put down Palin as a cheap way to score points with the women in their lives, or they use her as an outlet for more-general misogynistic impulses that would otherwise be socially unacceptable to express."