20.6.17

WHY DO THE GROUNDLINGS RAGE?

Popehat's Ken White offers common sense on the use of Shakespeare to comment on Our Times, and why it's unworthy of serious people to disrupt performances, no matter how many liberties the performers might take with the script.

I recommend reading it in full.  Some highlights.
Never mind, for the moment, that Shakespeare's plays are shot through with blunt commentary on the politics of his time, or that staging Shakespeare to comment on contemporary politics is common and nearly as old as they plays themselves, or that the same thing has been done with an Obama-like Caesar with very little fanfare, or that the entire point of the play is that Caesar's assassination is self-indulgent folly that leads to disaster. People are angry.

One angry justification for disrupting the play goes like this: liberals do this to conservatives, so this is fair play. We're just imposing liberals' rules on liberals. Liberals disrupt conservative speakers on campuses all the time, and if that's okay, why isn't this okay?
Because there are barking moonbats, and then there are the bourgeois conventions the moonbats would just as soon deconstruct. Got that?
This way lies madness and destruction, the excuse to abandon everything we believe. We follow our principles because they're right, not because everyone agrees with them. We follow them in adversity and in the face of opposition and even injustice. We give due process — a jury trial — to a cop who shot a motorist even if a very good argument can be made that the cop executed the motorist without due process. We defend the free speech of Nazis and communists who would deny it to us if they had power. At one point, I would have been able to say that we don't torture people even if they torture.

The "eye for an eye" theory of respecting free speech is particularly pernicious because it represents the worst sort of collectivism, something the principled Right ought reject. Note that people who say "apply the Liberals' own rules to the Liberals" aren't disrupting, say, an Antifa rally or the meeting of some Berkeley student group that advocated shutting down a conservative speaker. They're disrupting other people entirely, on the theory that everyone they deem part of the nebulous collective "Liberal" deserves to be silenced because someone else in that nebulous collective engaged in silencing behavior. The actors and playgoers in New York, under this theory, deserve to be shut down because they stand responsible for the acts of all "liberals" everywhere. (The suggestion that anyone going to see Julius Caesar must be a liberal does not reflect a very healthy self-image amongst the Right.) This closely resembles the logic of hecklers on college campuses, who argue that nearly any conservative speaker stands responsible for Klansmen and neo-Nazis and overt bigots everywhere. It's contemptible and can be used to justify doing nearly anything to nearly anyone.
More contemptible, though, is the abdication of responsibility by adults who should know better.  Zum Beispiel: "A few hysterically censorious kids screaming for a professor's termination for crimethink do not threaten the foundations of free speech, but Yale lauding them does."

Those conventions arose for a reason.  Deconstruct them at your peril.

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