Sunday, April 22, 2007

Daisey disrupted by party-pooping dunderheads

As you've probably heard by now, Mike Daisey was recently harrassed in the middle of a performance, evidently by a bunch of bonehead religious zealots. Mike reports:

"Thursday night's performance of INVINCIBLE SUMMER at American Repertory Theatre was disrupted when eighty seven members of a Christian group walked out of the show en masse, and chose to physically attack my work by pouring water on and destroying the original of the show outline.

"You can read about the incident, the aftermath and its consequences, as well as view YouTube footage of the whole thing going down, here:

"'s a sobering reminder that speech is never free unless it is defended ardently, and that even simple civility isn't simple when intolerant extremism is involved."

Indeed it is, Mike.


Anonymous said...

Be very, very careful about propagating the (apparently totally unfounded) charges regarding the "religious" nature of the walkout.

That kind of rush-to-judge labeling and misunderstanding (imagine what the equivalent stereotypes would have been from the "other" side - a bunch of urbanites walk out of a church meeting in Kansas) is what will lead us to the next civil war.

Mead said...

Um -- I don't think comments by me or you will start any civil wars, especially when they're made under the cover of anonymity. Nor are the "charges" you refer to necessarily unfounded; at best, we can say it's unclear whether someone from the hastily retreating group identified him/herself as Christian, or if somebody else just assumed this about them.

In any case, it is clear now that the action wasn't an organized religious statement, but rather an unplanned reactionary moment. And therefore I can't blame you for scolding me. In the final analysis, two things are interesting (to me) about the whole brouhaha:

(1) the sad, impotent rage of the man who vandalized Mike's work, which came to the fore in Mike's phone conversation with him; and

(2) how many people, myself included, were instantly ready to blame religious zealots for bad (or let us say misguided) behavior.

Not that it makes it right, but it reflects an antipathy that is eons old and, in fact, pre-Christian. As you suggest, it wouldn't hurt us to take a breath next time before caving in to age-old assumptions.