November 21st, 2016

About that “Hamilton” thing

I’m not so very interested in an incident that seems to be absorbing people so heavily this days, in which an actor in the Broadway show “Hamilton” made a condescending speech from the stage around curtain call time suggesting that Mike Pence—who was in the audience—should respect diversity, yada yada yada.

Everyone else seems to be highly interested in it, though, so I’ll say my piece.

No, this wasn’t about “an actor deign[ing] to speak respectfully about his concerns and the concerns (as he saw them) of non-white Americans to an elected official.” If actor Brandon Victor Dixon had met Pence at a party and spoken of those concerns, or run into him on the street or at a rally or even in the theater lobby or at the stage door: great, fine, no problem. Speak of any concern you want. Freedom of speech, yay!

If Dixon had said it on his Facebook page—likewise, fine. Or written a Letter to the Editor that was published in the Times—great, more power to him. Or even written a play with that theme and performed it—no problem.

The issue for me is that he did this in his role as actor on the stage in an altogether different play, albeit an actor taking a bow, and blindsided Pence who was sitting in the audience (a captive audience, you might say) as the theater’s paying guest.

Inappropriate and wrong. And that would be true no matter what the political persuasion of the actor and the elected official. I’d say exactly the same thing if the actor had been on the right and the politician were Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden.

The talented creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, tweeted out how proud he was of Dixon for “leading with love.” Miranda added, “And proud to remind you that ALL are welcome at the theater.” Gee, even our terrible VP-elect? Are ALL welcome to attend without being lectured to from the stage about how they should run their affairs, before they’ve even taken office? It makes me wonder what the word “welcome” means.

77 Responses to “About that “Hamilton” thing”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    His character in the show was Burr.

  2. AMartel Says:

    “It makes me wonder what the word “welcome” means.”

    I’m still wondering what “leading with love” means.

  3. F Says:

    In photo I have seen of the event, it appears the actor was actually reading a statement from a 3X5 card. That makes it appear the gesture was premeditated, and perhaps even written by someone else.

  4. Cornhead Says:

    F

    He definitely read it.

  5. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    Give him credit. Brandon Victor Dixon, a man of modest talent, saw his chance to be forever invited to all the right parties and to be interviewed and sucked up to by all the right media outlets and he went for it. A cheap shot is a cheap shot. This one was very cheap and he took it, to his everlasting profit in the usual echo chambers.

  6. AMartel Says:

    What a spontaneous and heartfelt sentiment! Nothing conveys genuine and sincere feeling liking reading off a cue card.

  7. Big Maq Says:

    @F – on CBS morning show that actor explained who was involved in writing it. Seemed like something they quickly patched together, including Miranda.

    “Premeditated” or not, the issue is with the appropriate use of this forum.

    What is off putting is the “celebratory” sense this is put in by the media, as we all know that if they were in our shoes, they’d complain.

    Personally, it’s no less acceptable as bending a knee during the anthem. I’d don’t like it, and rank it up there with kanye west interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Awards with a diatribe, and trump’s late night twitter insults on how NOT to appropriately respond to a disagreement.

  8. Bill Says:

    There is LOTS of context around this. They didn’t “blindside” Mike Pence. There had been booing earlier – the audience was disruptive and disdainful of Pence. I think they felt they needed to say something.

    About the person who says the actor is low-talent. This is one of the aspects of the current tone that drives me crazy. Have you actually listened to the Hamilton soundtrack? I don’t use this word lightly – it’s a work of genius. There’s a reason you can’t get tickets to that show – it’s sold out forever because it’s an amazing work of art.

    Finally – one of the few times I find myself in disagreement with Neo.

    Mike Pence is a very powerful, grown up man. He himself said it was no big deal, that it’s what freedom sounds like. For the reasons I stated above (the atmosphere at Richard Rodgers that night, the earlier booing) I think what they did was appropriate.

    But – finally: The first amendment states we have the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Pence is not a hot-house flower. Would that we would put more pressure on our politicians. What, we’re conservatives but now feel the need to leap to the defense of politicians? They knew what they were getting into.

    Look, I realize – and generally agree – that everything’s too politicized. I don’t like sporting events being politicized. But I have to tell you, there’s an interesting phenomenon going on. Minorities feel attacked due to a spate of police shooting. So they protest. They are told to be quiet, “all lives matter”. The protests get out of hand so they are (RIGHTFULLY) told to engage in civil disobedience that is non-violent. So some of them refuse to stand for the National Anthem. Of course everyone freaks out – THAT is out of bounds as well. So the bottom line message to minorities is “Shut Up”.

    The cast of Hamilton took an entire minute of time to deliver a very respectful plea (petitioning their government) to one of the most powerful men on earth. They didn’t request something that only liberals care about. They said that they hoped the new administration would be for ALL Americans, not just the majority.

    And we’re now all of a sudden concerned (this will sound familiar) with Marquis de Queensbury rules.

    I for one support what they did.

  9. Bill Says:

    Here’s the full text of what was said from the stage. Emphasis mine:

    You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening. Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out but I hope you hear just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo. We’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.

    And I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post, because this message needs to be spread far and wide, OK?

    Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical. We really do.

    We sir, we, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

    Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.

    subversive . . .

  10. Big Maq Says:

    @Bill – good point and particularly “And we’re now all of a sudden concerned (this will sound familiar) with Marquis de Queensbury rules.”

    I’m not particularly impressed that they single out one patron, and find that it had a bit of “grandstanding” aspect to it.

    BUT, if we want twitter and college campuses (as two examples) to be available for discourse WE think is acceptable, we have to allow for moments like this where show producers and cast members are in private agreement in a private venue to air their position.

    We are accepting so many things once thought to be “out of bounds” (as I mentioned above, and implied by your ref to “Queensbury rules”), this is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

  11. Big Maq Says:

    To add: If trump (like kanye) taught us anything, one, indeed, gets extra attention by not conforming to norms.

  12. ErisGuy Says:

    Making political comments after (or during) the show has been a staple of musicians and bands for decades. Why should theatre be different? Because actors should be more civilized? Because theatre is (probably) subsidized?

    Why can’t les deplorables treat the theatre the way ACT-UP treated churches?

  13. ErisGuy Says:

    Nice try: while I can agree with a plea to uphold American values to hateful anti-Americans like Obama and Hillary, why single out Pence for this?

    I hope Pence upholds values like equality: no more protected classes, no more affirmative action, no more minority set-asides, equal taxation, etc. The most American response of the Trump-Pence administration would be to eliminate thousands of pages of laws and regulations.

  14. Janetoo Says:

    Finally, Pence offered praise for the sold-out show: “Hamilton is just an incredible production and incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there,” Pence said.

    Pence noted when he arrived at the show, he heard a few boos and some cheers. “And I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said.

  15. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    In regard to Bill’s interesting remarks — some of his points well-taken — he floated the term “low-talent” as if it had somehow been ascribed to Mr. Dixon. I have heard the show. It is brilliant. And in my opinion Mr. Dixon is a man of modest talent, who saw the opportunity to further burnish his credentials with the social justice glitterati. One might have thought that the fund raiser he and the cast did for Hillary Clinton might have been enough. But no, Mike Pence was too rich a target not to exploit. Mr. Dixon accomplished what he wished to accomplish. I would not call the thing bravely done.

  16. groundhog Says:

    I will say, not in defense of every appeal or protest, but unless you have special access to a vice President elect or a President elect how often will you get a chance to speak directly to one?

    I’ve only been in shouting range of one in my whole lifetime. And I don’t think he would have even noticed if I did shout something.

    Is the burden of that high an office different? That’s what I’m saying.

    You won’t get many chances if any. Most attempts to speak directly to the highest office get shut down after a short attempt because you’re almost always interrupting something.

    Sure I can write a letter, or send a email like millions of people.

  17. AMartel Says:

    It’s a combination of (1) the double-standard as between political parties, (2) the fearmongering and faux alarm in promotion of the progressive narrative, (3) the smug condescension, (4) the sanctimonious pretense of speaking truth to power, (5) the presumption to speak on behalf of others, and (6) the self-promoting showboating.

    In what venue does the right ever do this? Not even in those few areas of the culture where the right still has the upper hand (gun shows, monster truck rallies, airshows and other military and pseudo-military events) are progressives demeaned and lectured in this manner.

  18. CV Says:

    Steven Van Zandt, “The Sopranos” actor and guitarist for Springsteen’s E Street Band, had the best response IMO. He shared some advice on etiquette and singling out an audience member, tweeting: “There has never been a more outspoken politically active artist than me. He was their guest. You protect your guests. Don’t embarrass them.”

  19. Bill Says:

    Ralph,

    I have listened to the soundtrack repeatedly but the role of Burr is played by Leslie Odem Jr (who won the Tony). The new Burr that you’re discrediting I haven’t actually heard. But he got the lead role (or co-lead if you count the Hamilton role) for the hottest show on Broadway so I’m going to take a shot that he’s pretty darn talented. I mean, Hamilton isn’t the Apprentice or Keeping up with the Kardashians but…

    AMartel – the beauty of the free market is people can take it out on Hamilton by not buying tickets or soundtracks.

  20. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Minorities feel attacked due to a spate of police shooting.” Bill

    No. They feel attacked because the media presents any black shooting death by the cops as a murder… until proven otherwise.

  21. Bill Says:

    AMartel

    You mentioned fear mongering and false alarm. Both parties do that, trust me.

  22. Oldflyer Says:

    Well, obviously opinions differ.

    There are factors that make this a reprehensible intrusion in my opinion. Obviously, it was not a plea to the audience for tolerance. Apparently, it is assumed that people in this audience are tolerant and need not be admonished–with one exception.

    Beyond that, it is certainly a political statement that assumes a priori that VP Pence and his Master will be intolerant. Not only intolerant, but apparently unlawful since some level of anxiety and fear were justified.

    This little stunt which clearly was not spontaneous, one cannot miss the note card, echoes the drum beat from the left that has followed the election. In playground vernacular it is piling on; e.g., bullying.

    I have noted much praise for Hamilton as a production. I have a little trouble myself getting past the distortion of American history. What is the significance of casting historical characters, who were instrumental to the foundation of this country, as belonging to a different race? There must be some message. I idly wonder what the reaction would be if a musical centered on the life of Martin Luther King had an all-white cast? Would it be praised for the quality and innovativeness of the production?

    Sometimes I can feel myself becoming “deplorable”.

  23. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Why was it “cultural appropriation” and exploitation when as only one of many examples, artist Paul Simon, in his 1984 album ‘Graceland’ incorporated South African township music but not cultural appropriation when Hamilton presents America’s founding fathers as exclusively non-white? A purposeful exclusion given Hamilton’s original casting call soliciting only non-white actors.

    Surely we couldn’t have a double standard?

  24. parker Says:

    It is ironic that the author, directors, and actors involved in the stage play Hamilton are clueless about the real Hamilton. Hamilton was not a friend of ‘people of color’, unwashed immigrants, or direct democracy. Hamilton was a brilliant man but he was no friend of the hoi polIoi.

  25. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    Bill,
    Oh Dear. Is this worth the fuss? First the words “low-talent” were more or less put in my mouth (or my comment) in such a way as to impute or imply snideness rather than judgment on my part. And now it appears I am “discrediting” Mr. Dixon. I guess I should have made clear that my opinion of Mr. Dixon’s talent (I’ll stick with modest) was based only on some songs I have seen him sing on YouTube. I realize that he was picked to filll Odem’s shoes so he may well be, as you say “pretty darn talented.” I am not sure where you were going with the references to The Apprentice and the Kardashians (two shows I have never seen) but I will bow to your superior grasp of music, voice and the theater. In my humble opinion, Mr. Dixon’s was still a cheap shot.

  26. Frog Says:

    I see that Neo’s “Hamilton” honey is drawing more than the usual share of flies.

    Does anyone actually know how the script of this “musical” reads? What message does this “musical” send about Hamilton and his times? Is Aaron Burr a hero for killing the “slave-owning SOB”?

    I read elsewhere an allegation that the casting calls for “Hamilton” said whites need not apply, though I thought I saw some white faces in the curtain-call array on stage. But if Shakespeare can be (and has been) played by an all-black cast, this allegation does not seem completely preposterous.

    Pence is being too kind. But what can you do? Those graced with excess melanin and unusual and hyper-vigorous sexual proclivities are obviously a superior species. Having HIV is an added plus, a sign of noble status.

  27. CapnRusty Says:

    Those who feel themselves our betters just keep digging the hole they’re in.

  28. parker Says:

    Frog,

    Its not a matter of what aanyone in 2016 thinks about Hamilton, it is a matter of reality.

  29. n.n Says:

    Democrats call for class diversity, not diversity. Their quasi-religion denies individual dignity, and embraces institutional and personal racism, sexism, etc. Their rhetoric is inundated with euphemistic expressions not limited to [class] diversity, abortion rites, etc. that derive from their Pro-Choice outlook.

  30. charles Says:

    Not only was the venue and time wrong – it was not as the Actor later claims “speaking to your elected representative.” It was pure and simple, lecturing!

    But, as others have noted – that has become the norm for many on-the-left in the arts – they feel the need to teach the rest of us as if we are the ones who are stupid.

    Can you imagine the uproar if an actor had chosen to lecture Obama (or even the Mrs.) after a play about how his words are making it difficult for cops to do their job?

    Such an actor would never work again.

    How about if an actor had lectured Obama and his “racist” talk in the past and how to made some of us worried that we would not be safe?

    Such an actor wouldn’t only not work again – his life would have been threatened. (Would he have gotten out of the theater alive?)

    This was grandstanding – nothing more. But it what many on the left are good at; talking not doing.

  31. T Says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about this. Inappropriate and wrong? Absolutely, but consider the source—Progressives.

    It appears, though, that the left is about to get its comeuppance in the next administration. Reports have it that Trump dressed down network heads and anchors in the boardroom today.

    So, as much as Brandon Victor Dixon and his ken might think they have scored points, methinks they are bringing a verbal knife to a verbal artillery barrage.

    I have long argued that the only reason leftist attacks work is that people respond to them as thought they are serious attacks. Trump’s response, if today is any example is to punch back twice as hard (now where have I heard that before?). Such attacks haven’t worked with Trump because he simply doesn’t give a damn and refuses to curl up into a fetal ball.

    To the extent that these reports are accurate, the leftist networks have brought it on themselves. Trump knows that they are going to pick at every thing he does. What has he got to lose?

    One final point, Don Surber (donsurber,blogspot.com) made an interesting point. His claim is that Trump is trolling the Hamilton event. Don notes than by Trump tweeting and everyone reacting to and reporting about the president-elect’s tweet, guess what they’re not talking about? Trump’s 25 million dollar settlement of the Trump University lawsuit. Oh look—squirrel!

    This is going to be a very interesting four years.

  32. Julian Tonning Says:

    Has the theatre stage now become a political platform? No one should then object when the play is disrupted by someone with another important message to deliver.

  33. Bill Says:

    I commented elsewhere that of course this is a Trump “squirrel!”. It works for him. He’s aided and abetted by Republicans who are aghast and shocked at the inappropriate behavior of the cast of a popular Broadway play for daring to speak to the VP elect

    Those of you who think Hamilton has an all-black cast don’t know what you’re talking about. Google it, please.

    Those of you implying you are irritated that George Washington is played by an African American – good grief.

  34. Bill Says:

    T,

    What are suggesting Trump is going to do? And are you suggesting Trump is taking direct action against Hamilton (other than childish tweets)

    How come very very few of you Republicans can’t just state a clear defense of the First Amendment. This admiring talk about how Trump is going to crush his adversaries in the press is chilling. Remember the constitution you used to revere?

    I miss my party.

  35. Richard Saunders Says:

    C’mon, folks — these are actors you’re talking about! I was on a panel a while ago on a tax issue which involved the entertainment industry. I happened to mention that I won’t deal with actors directly, only through their CPAs, business managers, or lawyers, “because they have the attention span of gnats.” One of my fellow tax lawyer panelists responded, “Oh, you must get the smart ones.”

    Or, as my daughter said when returning from a playwriting workshop, “I finally found out what directors do. They translate words into something actors can understand.”

  36. Bill Says:

    “How about if an actor had lectured Obama and his “racist” talk in the past and how to made some of us worried that we would not be safe?”

    I imagine people who support Obama would be having about the same kind of fit many of you who support Trump are having.

    “No one should then object when the play is disrupted by someone with another important message to deliver.”

    Already happened.

    http://dailycaller.com/2016/11/20/trump-supporter-disrupts-chicago-performance-of-hamilton/

  37. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    I thought I made it clear in my post that this isn’t a First Amendment issue.

    No one is arresting Dixon, and no one is making a law abridging his freedom of speech. As I said in my post, he’s free to express himself politically in any number of ways, including expressing himself to Pence.

    This isn’t a free speech issue. It’s an issue of decorum, judgment, and politeness, and the convention of public respect for people holding high political office, such as president or VP.

    As I also wrote at the beginning of the post, the entire incident isn’t of much interest to me. I think it’s a tempest in a teapot on both sides, but I’m on the side of actors respecting political figures who attend plays and not signaling them out for opprobrium.

    Pence has behaved admirably in all of this. Trump less so. But not badly, either; asking for an apology is hardly abridging someone’s freedom of speech. Unless I missed something, that’s really all Trump did.

  38. Frog Says:

    Bill is leaderless and confused. He misses his party. No marching orders. What do you think of Rep. Ellison, Bill? Especially as potential head of the DNC?

  39. Oldflyer Says:

    Thank you for the lecture(s) Bill. I am not sure that it is accurate for you to characterize Republicans as “aghast and shocked”. Irritated and disgusted may be more accurate. But, what is a little hyperbole when it comes to making a political point?

    Certainly putting any of this in First Amendment terms is a grotesque stretch. Dixon, or anyone, can make their statements from any platform they choose. There is, of course, a difference between a right to do something and the appropriateness. As to the press; no one forced them to attend the little session today, and I doubt they were intimidated.

    Frog, I think it a reach to compare using black actors as Shakespearean characters to Hamilton. If an audience were willing to imagine a fictional King of Denmark as black it was of little consequence to anyone–except maybe the Danes (and who cares what they think?). It seems a whole different matter to distort actual individuals from our history. I refer to my previous question; what was the point?

    Of course, since this discussion began, some of the egregiously misogynistic and racist twitter posts by Dixon have surfaced; so we know he is not the sweet and concerned character that he was playing when he blind sided Mr Pence. He was a wiling tool of those who are working diligently to marginalize the next administration in advance.

    As far as the President-Elect’s response to these efforts, I project from President Obama’s own words:

    Barack Obama: “get in their faces and punch back twice as hard.”
    Donald Trump: “ok” ( just kidding)

  40. Bill Says:

    Neo – thanks, I understand.

    As usual, I’m a bit scattershot. I’m still working through some of the sentiments expressed, such as admiration for Trump’s intimidation of the media. I understand that this isn’t fundamentally a first amendment issue.

    But this is a first amendment issue in one way – the cast of Hamilton petitioned their government for redress of grievances.

    I’m pretty much alone on this, but I think that’s awesome. I’m a conservative, so I think banging away on politicians is a good thing. They are not our rulers or potentates. They work for us. I also believe in rewarding them with praise when they do well, and certainly don’t disagree with decorum. It probably doesn’t help to say it yet again but the Hamilton cast was very respectful and due to the earlier disrespect I think they felt they had to respond. I don’t see this as cut and dried. I understand why many disagree.

    Also – Trump has been an idiot on this. His usual antics – demanding apologies, calling Hamilton “underrated”, etc. He has acted badly, but he’s also normalized bad, stupid, ignorant, abusive, cr@ppy behavior so much that when he sounds halfway like a human being people think he’s being presidential.

    I apologize for my passion on this.

    Frog – I’m not “leaderless”. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.
    I don’t always represent him well in this space and for that I apologize. I’m also a limited-government conservative so generally don’t think of politicians as my “leader” – they are more my “employee”.

    You have me pegged that I’m confused. I don’t understand why 81% of white evangelicals, many people I know and love, chose to vote for Trump. I think he’s going to be a disaster. I hope I’m wrong. So far I’m not encouraged.

    About the DNC: I’m not a Democrat.

  41. Bill Says:

    Also, it should be added, that some of my passion around this topic is because I and the rest of my family, have been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat for the past few months. Holy cow it’s good…

    So I’m a bit biased toward the play. It’s unique, brilliant, redemptive in many parts, etc.

  42. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    The actor is not the play. The play is the play.

    And neither the actor nor the cast were “petitioning the Government for a redress of grievances.” For a very very simple reason: Pence is the VP-elect, and therefore no grievances have amassed to be redressed. He hasn’t served in that capacity yet.

    Right now he is governor of Indiana, although he won’t be holding that position for long. I don’t believe that Dixon had any grievances towards anything he did as governor of Indiana, the position he’s held since 2012.

    This was a preemptive petition for imagined grievances, a warning not to give Dixon any future grievances. Nor was Dixon expecting a reply to his “petition.” It was a misuse of his role as actor on a stage and Pence’s role as member of the audience attending a Broadway show.

    If the cast had wanted to address the boos, all they had to say was that Pence was a guest in the theater and as a guest and VP-elect he should be shown respect, as should be shown anyone in the audience in that theater.

    No need for you to apologize, though. It’s perfectly okay to feel passionate about it.

  43. Bill Rudersdorf Says:

    Has anyone noted the peculiar irony of (a play about) Alexander Hamilton calling out a Vice President (-elect)? The original Hamilton and a certain Vice President came a lethal cropper. So, interesting target, no?

  44. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Bill,

    The answer to why 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump is I suspect due to three factors; stopping Hillary, Mike Pence and Trump’s expressed desire to “drain the swamp”.

    Pence is everything evangelical’s could wish for in a President. That Trump choose Pence and that Pence accepted probably counted for a lot with many, plus Pence will presumably now be the Republican front runner after Trump, which may also have weighed in their thinking.

    I suspect that perhaps more than any other group, a large percentage of white evangelicals shared my fear that America under Hillary would approach that tipping point I’ve mentioned so often. IF so, in their minds Trump presented the last chance to change the direction we were headed in…

  45. GRA Says:

    It’s just self-importance, arrogance and a strange, bizarre paranoia that minorities have built in their minds of “their rights.” In the past couple of elections minorities of America, and their advocates, seem obsessed with their “protection” as if they’re lambs just wanting to frolic in the meadow.

    It didn’t occur to me that what Dixon did runs parallel to what Obama and Seth Meyers did to Trump in the 2011 White House Correspondence Dinner, as well as what happened to Paul Ryan by Obama about the debt crisis.

  46. groundhog Says:

    neoneocon: This isn’t a free speech issue. It’s an issue of decorum, judgment, and politeness, and the convention of public respect for people holding high political office, such as president or VP.

    Neocon, When Congressman Joe Wilson yelled “You lie,” while Obama was making a speech you didn’t spend any time at all on proper decorum but instead spent time examining Obama’s lies.

    Isn’t that a double standard?

    It’s possible I missed the part where you spent time questioning proper actions in proper places.

  47. Esther Says:

    To act as a megaphone for CV, who paraphrased, “He was their guest. You protect your guests. Don’t embarrass them.”

  48. T Says:

    Bill,

    Neo addressed the free speech issue above, and the issue of decorum in her initial post
    but I’d like to add a few more points.

    I would note, first of all, that the First Amendment prohibits government interference in free speech; so the “theater police” may not suddenly show up and spirit the actors away to theater prison. Free speech can, and oftentimes is curtailed in the private sector (e.g., workplace). People overlook that teensy detail all the time.

    Second, in regard to the First Amendment, it doesn’t mandate that everyone must agree with any viewpoint, and it certainly doesn’t preclude anyone from speaking back. So Trump responds, in addition to Neo’s valid points above, why should Trump not be permitted his free speech? Why do you think it is incumbent on Trump or Pence, or anyone fro that matter, to stand there and “take it”? Why do you see his response as a violation of the first amendment and not the cast’s hectoring as a violation of the privacy rights of the entire audience of paying patrons?

    It was done because they believed that they could do it without negative consequences because (IMO) they likely presumed that the audience agreed with them. They sanctimoniously see themselves and their “cause” as righteous and their target as unrighteous, a rationalization of indecorous behavior.

    The ill-informed actors on stage condescendingly lecturing the paying patrons of a (more-or-less) captive audience is nothing more than an adolescent tantrum. True theater professionals would never act this way with regard to their patrons

    Further, you note: “I’m still working through some of the sentiments expressed, such as admiration for Trump’s intimidation of the media.”

    It’s simple. The bullies are finally getting their comeuppance. It’s not intimidation. The pattern in the past has been the media attacks and shames and the target apologizes and deflects, which implied that the attack was justified in the first place.. Now we are seeing an active and aggressive response to those attacks with the corresponding implication that such behavior is unjustified.

    I see no First Amendment conflict or abuse here.

  49. neo-neocon Says:

    groundhog:

    I didn’t defend Joe Wilson. I did examine whether Obama had in fact lied, which I think was an interesting question, but it had noting to do with Joe Wilson. Joe Wilson’s outburst wasn’t of much interest to me (and Dixon’s isn’t, either, as I’ve said several times). But if Pence had in fact been accused of lying by Dixon (he wasn’t), I certainly would have tried to examine whether Pence had in fact lied.

    What’s more, Obama was acting in his public political role, as was Wilson. Neither was an actor on a stage, or a member of an audience in a theater. I did post something where it was clear that Wilson’s wife disapproved of what Wilson had done, and where it was mentioned that Wilson had apologized for it (see this).

    Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” while Obama was making a speech on September 9, 2009. And I did indeed write a post about decorum in public life, on September 15, 2009, in response to it. It wasn’t just about Joe Wilson, but it was certainly sparked by the Joe Wilson incident. Here’s the beginning of it:

    Victor Davis Hanson has a good article on how uncouth public speech has gotten in recent years. And he’s not just talking about Joe Wilson.

    The rest of the post is a reprint of something I had written a few years earlier. Here’s part of it:

    At the risk of sliding even further into old-fuddydud-ism (and perhaps even my use of the word “fuddydud” is emblematic of the fact that I’m already hopelessly mired there), I have to say that I myself have noticed recently a remarkable rise of what Siegel delicately refers to as “coarseness” in public life, not just academia.

    Clinton donned shades and played the sax on TV. That wasn’t any problem; it was fun. But now we have candidates using the F-word in interviews with the media. Kerry in Rolling Stone, describing Bush’s Iraq policy–well, at least that was Rolling Stone, which appeals to a certain demography, so there was a bit of logic behind it, although I think it did absolutely nothing to enhance his candidacy or his person. And, just to show that I’m a nonpartisan equal-opportunity critic, there was Dick Cheney dissing Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate–although that was a personal spat, apparently, rather than a public interview.

    What’s up? We’re all baby boomers here, and we tiresome boomers used to crow about how we liberated the language (and a lot else) from the confines of earlier ideas of propriety, etiquette, and politeness. Some of this liberation was good, no doubt.

    But there’s something to be said for propriety, especially in public life.

    I did not defend Wilson, and as a response to Wilson I reprinted a piece where I talked quite a bit about decorum in public life, and accused both sides of contributing to the loss of it.

    No double standard. I guess you are correct when you say that it’s possible you “missed the part where you spent time questioning proper actions in proper places.” Yes, you missed it.

  50. groundhog Says:

    Okay, I missed it. Sorry.

    The same free speech can be trash to one person and treasure to another. The same speech you or I treasure may be considered worthless to others. And although decorum and respect are important, who gets decide when it is important enough to ignore decorum and respect?

    Only the speaker,imo. Do you think otherwise?

  51. csimon621 Says:

    Neo, thanks for saying that. I happen to agree.

    Yes, as Americans, do hold in the highest regard free speech among many other freedoms.

    There are many ways of looking at this incident (the success and popularity of the show; an actor’s talent, the timing or singling out of an individual in the audience, the content of the message, the multi-ethnicity of the players (or the non-inclusivity of deliberately non-white only casting calls – diversity as defined by anything but white and therefore priviledged?)… the list is long.

    From the perspective of common civility and respect for process of our democratic system by means of which we choose our representatives and leaders, the address was inappropriate. Free speech is great. But does anyone remember “right time, right place? The actor seems to have conflated his role as one of the leads of one of, if not the most popular original show on Broadway in decades as well as the character of the person he plays, with his own importance, his right to free speech, and the message he chose to deliver.

    Wrong time, wrong place. Poorly constructed message and delivery — at least if his intent was to deliver a message he wanted people to listen to digesr, and think about.

    Instead Dixon purposely chose to embarrass the newly elected Vice President with a supercilious message dripping with sarcasm and loaded accusation (or was it warning?) that he and other ethnicities (white excluded) are fearful because the ones who won the election (a.k.a. not their guys) are out to get them and you better remember the Constitution (at least the parts we like and don’t want to change) guarantees us rights and you’d better remember that.

    Maybe its youthful indiscretion, overexuberance, the result of living in a very Liberal bubble, or self-aggrandizement, the message was one guaranteed to immediately turn off at least half those who would hear it (not necessarily just those in that relatively small venue) let alone convey food for thought.
    Sometime after the actor delivered his message when all the brouhaha began, I read somewhere that a source characterized it as a lecture, after which the actor insisted it was “a conversation.”

    It was in no way a conversation nor was it ever intended to be.
    It was a hugely successful PR stunt, both for the show and the actor. I saw a clip tonight in which Charlie Rose was interviewing Mr. Dixon and mentioned the Trump tweet calling for apology and Rose mentioned he assumed there would be none. Mr. Dixon, oh so smugly (like the cat who swallowed the canary) took a sip from his cup and declared “there is no reason for one.”

    Few takeaways:
    1. Yes, Bill there is a LOT of context around this. But I see it differently from you. First, Mike Pence was indeed blindsided. It wasn’t the audience who delivered a prepared remonstration to a man who was already outside of the auditorium (he was not yet outside the theatre) and not in any position to either reply or take part in “the conversation.”
    1. Pence is a class act and just as in the recent incident in which his landing plane ran off the runway and instead of being hustled off by Secret Svc. he insisted on going back to rest of plane where press was to make sure everyone was OK. The more I see of this man, the more confidence I have. He seems to be the perfect counterbalance to the communications shortcomings of Pres. Elect Trump.

    2. In this world of modern technology and instant realtime communications, the controversy over this incident has resulted in replay of Mr. Dixon delivering his message by so many so often — by both those whose intention was to celebrate it as well as those who found it offensive — that the net result was magnifying the importance of Mr. Dixon’s opinion far more than it deserved.

    3. The current President sees his “Legacy” faster and faster slipping away as the impact of the election and its results is beginning to sink in: Hillary lost, and so he lost. But he is really the biggest loser becauses it is becoming quite clear that the agenda he and his pals in Congress shoved down the throat of America, via the manipulation of voting rules by his cohorts in Congress, his Executive Orders designed to work around his legislative failures and rulings enacted by federal boards and agencies stacked with like-minded Dems. via interim appointments appear to be headed for the trash heap either per the agenda of the new President Elect, the Repub.majorities in Congress and the Courts which have almost uniformly tossed out rulings achieved by executive overreach.

    BUT there is another legacy that is less obvious than specific acts, orders and rulings. For 8 long yrs. Obama has consistently preached hate, resentment, victimology, and divisiveness — racial and other — in addition to skewing the regard for Law and Order by placing a hand on the scales of Justice via the Attorney General’s office, and must not forget the promise and delivery of an almost endless array of entitlements to true believers.
    In a nation that was already reaching record levels of division, Obama has regularly vilified his political adversaries, referred to them as “The Enemy” and actually talked about governing in terms of knives and guns. (so much for the self-anointed big tent, all-inclusive peace loving Democrats).
    He has strewn seeds of hate, misinformation/lies, fear and loathing which have taken root and are growing rapidly as witnessed by the boldness of violence against police, the chaos in inner cities, and the increasingly hate-filled demonstrations that are much less than civil and definitely not peaceful. Anyone old enough to remember the 60’s? Only difference is that the rebellion, protests, and violence is not born organically from numbers of young students who find gratification and power in like-minded thinkers even if their beliefs are rooted in error and/or ignorance.
    No, now such behavior is instigated, encouraged and rewarded by those in power in the government, the people entrusted to educate them, and one of the most reliable motivattions: inculcation of victimology.

    This may be his true legacy and one most difficult to reverse.
    Makes me think again of knave or fool. Is this unintended consequences resulting from preaching his far Left ideology?
    Or is the creation of a schism which threatens to tear the nation and the principles upon which it was founded apart the the true agenda resulting from very deliberate action?

  52. csimon621 Says:

    I wrote the above after reading the commentary by Bill @ 6:45 PM.
    Just read comments posted since that time and realize my post echoes a no. of others submitted in interim. Sorry if too much repetition.

  53. Sergey Says:

    Sanctimonious grandstanding is what I hate in all leftist protest movements since 1968. These upper-middle class privileged young people always behave as if they are on the stage of some theater impersonating “oppressed minorities” but knowing nothing about those whom they allegedly defend.

  54. CV Says:

    To add to the “context” around this event, here’s how the cast of Hamilton responded when Hillary came for a visit:

    http://ijr.com/2016/11/740653-heres-how-the-hamilton-cast-reacted-when-hillary-clinton-attended-their-show/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

  55. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    Well, Neo!
    Reading all these exchanges this morning confirms for me once again why this is the best salon on the net. Interesting points examined civilly but with “warmth.” You always preside with grace and a sure-footed sense of what you have written in the past (e.g. Your recollections re the Joe Wilson incident). Thank you.

  56. ArmyMom Says:

    To top it off, it turns out that many of the cast of Hamilton have not registered to vote in years. You would think that they would actually participate in the process before making imaginary grievances something that must be foisted on a paying audience that is there to be entertained and not lectured to. There are a lot of entertainers that have lost my money for their products because I refuse to be told by some vacuous idiot who can parrot lines as a job or sing a nice tune what I should think and feel about real life politics and events.

  57. Fausta Says:

    I’m a market-choice person:

    Luxury goods are commodities.

    ONE seat (where Pence sat) for “Hamilton” costs $1188.60.

    For that much money, I can get a David Yurman sterling silver bracelet.

    Or my date and I can get dinner, go to Aida at the MetOpera, spend the night in NYC (AirBnb) – and treat myself to a new dress from Bergdorf’s (actually did cost analysis at my blog last Saturday).

    Neither of the two alternatives come with a political speech.

  58. Big Maq Says:

    “It is ironic that the author, directors, and actors involved in the stage play Hamilton are clueless about the real Hamilton. Hamilton was not a friend of ‘people of color’, unwashed immigrants, or direct democracy. Hamilton was a brilliant man but he was no friend of the hoi polIoi.” – parker

    True, but I hesitate to go down that path, as it is very similar to the arguments the left use to dismiss the Founding Principles, as “slave holders’ values”.

  59. Kyndyll G Says:

    Here’s the main issue I have this incident, as well as the football kneeling kerfuffle: these people are not expressing their point of view as private citizens in a public forum, which would be their right. They are abusing their employers’ access to a larger stage (literally in this case) to express their point of view in a manner which 1) may or may not represent the interests of the party that pays them and has unwittingly and presumably unwillingly provided the forum for them to do so, and 2) does not reasonably offer the other party a comparable means to respond. The large, international company I work for would fire me, in about one second, if I did something like that while on work hours, while communicating through company phone or email or at a company event, etc.

    While you are doing your job – which, if you’re a professional football player, is playing football on national TV in a huge stadium, or if you’re an actor in a prestigious Broadway play, is on the theater stage during a performance – you are not speaking for yourself, you are representing your company on company time and company money. (It is not therefore closely comparable to a comedian or singer-songwriter choosing to walk out on stage, representing him or herself, on his or her own tour, and making some political commentary.) If the company in question does not have policies against this, and respond accordingly if an employee blatantly abuses them, that politicizes the company. I am not going to do business with a company that allows its employees to harrangue its customers, regardless of whether the one-sided diatribe is left, right or center.

    The ultimate point is not that I am saying that people should be a silent company tool. What I’m saying is that “free speech” is not taking advantage of unfair benefits your job may offer you to express your views to a captive audience larger than you could reach as a private citizen. Most of us would get fired, rightfully, for doing this and it irks me when self-righteous gits like these people think they have special rights.

  60. brdavis9 Says:

    As with every other occasion I’ve listened to or read something Pence, I thought his response – I was going to say “trumped” here, but I won’t …but I thought it – was impressive compared to the utterly self-absorbed actor’s (which is, of course, an obvious oxymoron) soliloquy, and rather delicious. Pence FTW. It wasn’t even close. Bravo Mr. VP, bravo.

    Gnats. Heh. True ‘dat.

  61. Big Maq Says:

    “Trump tweeting and everyone reacting to and reporting about the president-elect’s tweet, guess what they’re not talking about? Trump’s 25 million dollar settlement of the Trump University lawsuit. Oh look—squirrel!” – T

    Correct. That’s exactly how trump has dominated the news cycle all this time.

    Is it by some brilliant strategy, or is it trump’s inability to contain himself?

    Suspect the latter, given how much trouble he got himself into by doing this very thing.

    In many ways, the media playing this up is giving trump that opportunity to occupy the news with this. They want the ratings and cannot help themselves either.

    In the end, we are not served well by this dynamic by either side. We are losing attention to what matters.

    BUT, we have to remember the media has an audience for this – can they be 100% to blame?

  62. Ray Says:

    “It was pure and simple, lecturing!”
    Years ago Linda Ronstadt was appearing in Las Vegas and she started her show by lecturing the audience on politics. The management had a talk with her and told her the audience came to hear her sing, not hear her lecture.

  63. T Says:

    “They are abusing their employers’ access to a larger stage (literally in this case) to express their point of view in a manner which . . . does not reasonably offer the other party a comparable means to respond. .” [KyndyllG @ 10:15]

    Absolutely correct. Their use of “dialogue” is as a contraction of “diatribe” and “monologue” (full disclosure, read that somewhere and it bears repeating).

  64. Big Maq Says:

    I don’t know if it is “abusing their employers’ access”.

    My understanding is that the producers had a hand in it, or at least endorsed it after the fact.

    This is far from a McDonald’s employee making a public stand in their restaurant.

  65. CV Says:

    In addition to calling out the Hamilton cast for being disrespectful of a guest, Steven Van Zandt mentioned that their actions set a bad precedent.

    Hamilton is such a phenomenon that I doubt this will impact their bottom line, but other artists have experienced a drop in audience after grandstanding like this. Whither the Dixie Chicks these days?

  66. Frog Says:

    It occurs to me that acting is the only line of work where the workers are paid, often handsomely, to be frauds and shams, to be what they are not.

    In no other occupation is mischaracterization of one’s self a good thing. Except possibly prostitution.

  67. Big Maq Says:

    My last comment on this:

    All the concern and posturing on this is turning it into a IRL Seinfeld episode.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQnaRtNMGMI

    And for some real news:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWdJZh7Nz4g

    Don’t forget to share the narrative, and to pick up your trump dollar!

    /s

  68. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Since, as the left insists, it’s all in the name of first amendment rights and addressing the rising fear which they blame solely on the right or alt-right –

    Maybe one day the all-gay cast of a new hit musical based loosely on the life of Muhammad will make a similar speech to attendants Keith Ellison and his family.

    Definitely not going to hold my breath waiting for that one.

  69. neo-neocon Says:

    groundhog:

    Yes, I think otherwise.

    The speaker decides what he/she wants to say and when.

    And each other person gets to decide what to say and do in response, including his/her opinion on whether the first person was rude or obnoxious or should have kept his/her mouth shut.

    There is also a general public consensus in a society, as well as in different segments of that society, on what is okay and what is not. It is not uniform, and it changes over time (as I alluded to in that post of mine on falling standards of decorum in public life). Sometimes there are actual rules for each venue, as there used to be in the school system when I was a student (I assume there still are, but who knows these days?). There are also rules within the family; each family has its own rules, but there are general trends, and the trend for many decades has been for more permissiveness. There are general rules for decorum in church, or at a function like a wedding. There are still rather strict rules for behavior in a courtroom; outbursts are not well-tolerated, and there is something called contempt of court. Contempt of court isn’t limited to disobeying a court order (although it can include that), but it also can include “being rude or disrespectful to legal authorities in the courtroom,” and people can be sanctioned for such behavior by the court.

    You may recall that Joe Wilson faced quite a bit of judgment. Who got to decide? Well, the press, the public, Obama, Wilson himself, and members of the House of which he was a member. Here’s how it went down:

    Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel immediately approached senior Republican lawmakers and asked them to identify the heckler and urge him to apologize immediately. Members of Congress from both parties condemned the outburst. “Totally disrespectful”, said Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) of Wilson’s utterance. “No place for it in that setting or any other and he should apologize immediately.” Wilson said later in a statement:

    This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of undocumented immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.

    Obama later accepted Wilson’s apology. “I’m a big believer that we all make mistakes”, he said. “He apologized quickly and without equivocation and I’m appreciative of that.”

    House Democrats called on Wilson to issue a formal apology on the House floor. Wilson refused, saying in a televised interview that, “I believe one apology is sufficient.” Congressional Republicans agreed, and opposed further action. On September 15, the House approved a “resolution of disapproval” against Wilson, on 240–179 vote.

    The people from Wilson’s district in South Carolina also got to make a decision about it. They decided to re-elect Wilson, and he’s still a member of the House.

  70. CW Says:

    A liberal doesn’t recognize your right NOT to hear their opinion.

    Nor do they see any need to earn or request access to your attention when they can just lure you in with promises of a play, a concert, a comedy routine or a sports event. They love nothing better than the element of surprise and a captive audience that isn’t likely to challenge what they’ve said.

  71. GRA Says:

    @ Frog: A couple of comments about this event on youtube – “Acting is emotional prostitution. Theater actors are cheap [explicit].” Another appealed to the Romans who said, “Actors are those who are too lazy to be prostitutes.” It’s strange how an actor’s societal status has changed since Shakespeare’s day.

  72. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    In re First Amendment rights et al —

    Something I read elsewhere, which I agree with strongly, is that making an speech at VP-Elect Pence, from the stage, was a boorish act at best. (One could even describe it as cowardly, given that Pence could hardly answer back even had he wanted to do so.)

    The classy thing to do would have been to send him a private note, saying “We, the cast of Hamilton, are sorry for all the booing. This is not the theater experience we would have wanted for you. Please join us after the show for refreshments.” THEN, they could have said whatever they liked to him, AND he would have been free to respond.

    But I guess they didn’t really want to do that. They wanted to lecture, on the record, in front of a favorable audience.

    I expect that, someday soon, Hamilton will go on the road — and one day, the road show will find itself in a Trump stronghold. At some such performance, Pence — or Trump! — will show up in the audience. It’ll be interesting to see what lectures they come up with then, when the audience is not with them!

  73. groundhog Says:

    neoneoconThere is also a general public consensus in a society, as well as in different segments of that society, on what is okay and what is not.

    Sorry, Ill take the first Amendment with the usual caveats. That is, no fire in the theater, but actors dialogue okay even if inappropriate to everyone else, if the speaker of it decides it is important. It doesn’t matter whether I think its important or useful or even what political bent the person is.

    That’s what I defend.

    That’s why I’d rather see a takedown of what he said than that he did it at all.

  74. neo-neocon Says:

    groundhog:

    I repeat, for the umpteenth time—no one is questioning Dixon’s First Amendment rights, and no government is coming after him for speaking out. He has every right to do so. There is no First Amendment issue here; no one is disputing his right to say it.

    The question is one of what other people think about him saying it in that venue. One can fully support the First Amendment and someone’s right to say something without government interference without supporting what that person did. One can have a negative opinion of that person’s judgment, decorum, politeness, etc., in saying what he/she did.

    I wrote a draft for a post on the matter of decorum and societal mores about it, which is probably going to be published in the next couple of days.

    The actual content of what he said was “”We sir, we, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”

    You say you’d like to see “a takedown of what he said.” What he said—as many people have pointed out—was a condescending warning, to a man who hasn’t even taken office yet. It really isn’t complicated. And if it had been written in a Tweet or a note, or said to Pence in some other more private or at least non-workplace setting, no one would even be talking about it. The content of his remarks are really not all that remarkable, but the context was.

  75. charles Says:

    Neo, thank you – “condescending warning” is the main reason that this bothers me (and I’m sure many others). That and “wrong time wrong place” as well.

    It seems to have become a new standard for many to hijack a planned event for another – too many of my college professors (and even some managers at work) have done just that by bringing their political viewpoint into the classroom or workspace. And, unlike the VP-elect, I and others, cannot respond by asking them to respect OUR viewpoint without fear of some sort of “payback.”

    Oh, and the news (or is it “fake” news?) is that this actor has tweeted some rather sexist and racist stuff in the past; and now HE has the nerve to lecture someone else about not protecting him? It sounds to me like some might need protect FROM him, the actor.

  76. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    Neo,
    Your final point made to groundhog is well taken. And the recent revelations about Mr. Dixon’s tweets, while I do not want to rush to judgment, seem to indicate to me a man who, while he may have a modest talent, has no class.

  77. Sonny Wayze Says:

    groundhog:

    Just to add to the crowd who disagree…

    ” And although decorum and respect are important, who gets decide when it is important enough to ignore decorum and respect?

    Only the speaker,imo. Do you think otherwise?”

    Yes, I think otherwise. Should I one day decide to (accurately) describe someone’s wife as obese and too fond of cheap perfume, is no one else in earshot allowed to think I crossed a line?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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