“Hamilton” Ethics Follow-Up: Somewhere In The Multi-Verse, I Am In The Audience At “Hamilton” When The Cast Decides To Abuse Its Position And The Audience’s Trust By Harassing Mike Pence, And This Happens…

hamilton-logo

Luckily, I had been tipped off by a friend in the production regarding what had been planned.

As Brandon Victor Dixon stepped forward and called out Pence, thanking him for attending, and then began his planned statement with We hope you will hear us out. We, sir…, I stood up from my seat in the center of the fourth row, orchestra. I have a very loud voice. I said,

“Excuse me, Mr. Burr, is the show over? Or is this part of the performance?”

“It’s not part of the show, no…now, Mr. Pence…”

“That means we all can leave, right? We aren’t all being held captive while you lecture us, just Mike Pence? Is that what’s happening?”

“Well..I…Yes, yes, you are free to leave. This statement is for the Vice-President Elect. Now, if you’d let me finish…”

“Was he aware that you were going to single him out like this? If not, does that mean that every other audience member that buys a ticket to “Hamilton”—great show, by the way, though I only caught about half the words—should be ready to be singled out and told how to do their jobs by you actors? Are you pleased when you’re grocery shopping or at Home Depot or going to see a movie when the staff there recognizes you and  singles you out and tells you how to perform while everyone else stares and listens? I know that Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn take swings at people who do thing like that in the street…”

“No, this is for the Vice-President Elect only! Now if you’d just sit down…”

“I thought you said I could go!”

“You can go! Get lost! We’re trying to speak to the Vice-President elect…”

“You mean he can’t go? What is this, an ambush?”

“No, it’s just a conversation. Now, Mr Pence…”

“Wait, isn’t a conversation a voluntary, two-way give and take? It sure looks like you’re trying to have it both ways, using your platform on stage and your presence as a costumed actor standing over us to give a speech we—okay, Mr. Pence—didn’t bargain for, ask for or consent to, but falsely calling it a conversation.”

“You can call it what you like. Security? Now…where was I? Oh—We hope you will hear us out. We, sir…”

“Well, if it’s a conversation, I should be able to participate, right? I paid for my seat, too, and the show is over.  I hope the cast of “Hamilton” hears me out. How can this show justify its obscene ticket prices? I bought this ticket over the summer, and payed over $900 dollars for it. It’s impossible to get even  a bad seat for less than a hundred! Talk about elites: how greedy can you get? The show’s already a legendary hit; it’s already made everyone connected with it a ton of money. Why aren’t you lowering prices? Shouldn’t ordinary Americans have a chance to see the show? Live theater is struggling, this musical has important things to say, and you are deliberately limiting the audience to rich people, those with connections, and Vice-Presidents Elect? Do you want kids to play video games, or do you want parents to introduce them to the thrill of live theater?”

“This isn’t about “Hamilton,” this is about the social justice! Vice-President P…”

“What? This is a “Hamilton” performance and the post-show conversation isn’t about “Hamilton”? We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that “Hamilton’s” artists will not protect us, our planet, our children, and our parents from ticket gouging, or defend  and uphold our inalienable rights to the pursuit of…”

“Hey, how did you see our statement? Where is security? Wait, where is everybody going? Vice-President Pence…?”

[Voice from the back of the Richard Rogers Theater:  “He left, Brandon.”]

“Never mind him, Aaron. Why can’t you and I have a conversation? Here’s another question: you know that as a super successful Broadway show, you can get away with stunts like this, right? So other productions, at all levels, now will think that audience members are legitimately captive targets to be singled out and harangued by cast members from the stage. Why would any elected official come to see any play, now? You know, they could learn a lot from drama…Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, O’Neil, not just this show. How is it in the best interests of the theater or society to make going to the theater a risk? Aaron? Anybody?”

Muttering, the cast left the stage.

***

Back in this universe, I missed last night’s “Hamilton” incident. I am now on alert, however, and I see a lot of theatrical performances.

Let me be fair and transparent to the cast of any production, anywhere, that I attend, the way the Hamilton cast was not fair to Mike Pence. If your cast tries to ambush and harass any member of an audience I’m in, I swear to you I’m going to be out of my seat and participating in the “conversation” at the top of my theatrically-trained lungs, and I will make those actors look like the pompous, presumptuous, unprofessional and unethical jerks they are.

That’s a promise.

Go ahead, try it!

I want you to try it.

 

 

 

 

126 Comments

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126 responses to ““Hamilton” Ethics Follow-Up: Somewhere In The Multi-Verse, I Am In The Audience At “Hamilton” When The Cast Decides To Abuse Its Position And The Audience’s Trust By Harassing Mike Pence, And This Happens…

  1. *rises from her imaginary overpriced theatre seat and applauds*

  2. Chris

    ““Was he aware that you were going to single him out like this? If not, does that mean that every other audience member that buys a ticket to “Hamilton”—great show, by the way, though I only caught about half the words—should be ready to be singled out and told how to do their jobs by you actors?”

    A ridiculous question. Mike Pence is not some random audience member, he is the incoming president of the United States. His position of power makes him a legitimate target of criticism. You’ve talked of “the King’s Pass”–there’s got to be a corollary where someone with such power can expect to be targeted for criticism by more people, and in more venues, than the average citizen? Theater has always been a way to speak truth to power.

    Furthermore, you’ve spent the last year and change arguing forcefully that a Trump presidency will be an unmitigated disaster for the United States. The cast and crew of “Hamilton” has even more reason than you to complain. since they know that Trump and Pence will target their lives, their families and their communities personally, because they have said they will do so. They need to be fought right now. And as great as your blog is, this will raise more attention than any blog post you ever write or any ethics lecture you will ever give. This is what healthy opposition to Trump/Pence looks like. The idea that people should hold their tongues throughout their “grace period” is not just wrong, it’s irresponsible.

    The lecture was not only ethical, it was necessary.

    • Chris

      Incoming *vice president

      • Eternal optometrist

        Here we go again. I swear to god there’s nothing that the left could do of which deery and Chris would disapprove. I pray that neither trump nor pence gets assassinated because a substantial part of the populace, including clowns like these, will be cheering about how although tragic it’s “ethically necessary.”

        You know, people who bomb abortion clincs also think what they do is “necessary.”

        • Chris

          Here we go again. I swear to god there’s nothing that the left could do of which deery and Chris would disapprove. I pray that neither trump nor pence gets assassinated because a substantial part of the populace, including clowns like these, will be cheering about how although tragic it’s “ethically necessary.”

          The arguments are getting increasingly ridiculous. So now because I have no problem with a speech directed at an incoming Vice President in a venue you find inappropriate, I must also approve of assasination? What would compel you to make yourself look so stupid?

          • Eternal optometrist

            Someone who said Hillary would have had the same achievements if she was never married to bill is calling me stupid? Wow. That is fantastic.

            • Chris

              I said she might have, and I didn’t call you stupid. I said you were making yourself look stupid. Which you’re doing again by blatantly misrepresenting me, dredging up irrelevant old arguments, and deflecting.

              I don’t know, maybe I’m giving you too much credit. Maybe you are just stupid.

              • You should really walk that Hillary comment back. There’s no universe where she gets to the relative heights she’s at without Bill, and you know it.

                • (And continuing to assert otherwise makes you look like a partisan hack.)

                • Isn’t it amazing that people keep saying this? Do they say it about Mary Bono, Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), the 34 women elected to the House between 1916 and 1980 to fill their husband’s seat or replaced him on the ballot after he died, including Lindy Boggs, Cardiss Collins and Margaret Chase Smith? Hillary, an uncharismatic figure at best, would be finishing a career as a law firm partner if she hadn’t ridden Bill’s political skills into the public eye. It is so clear.

      • Wayne

        I guess civility and common decency is a mystery to you Chris. These things must be optional if it’s “for a good cause”.

        • Chris

          The speech was perfectly civil.

          • Chris said, “The speech was perfectly civil.”

            That does not make it an ethical thing to do; but, a political hack like yourself that’s consumed by the Liberal/Progressive ends justify the means hive mind wouldn’t understand that fact.

            Just because we have the right to do and say whatever we want does not make what we do and say right.

          • Becky

            Here’s where Jack would say the same letter is kosher (if I may, Jack)… If the actor trotted out into the audience/lobby, and said the same stuff to Pence and Pence alone, with his mic off and made it an actual conversation. My bias was showing earlier, when I was thinking “BRAVO.” But Jack’s right. The difference is in making Pence the spotlight and target, instead of one-on-one. Because what he said isn’t so much the problem as HOW and WHEN he said it.

            • What he said is irrelevant. Exactly.

              Also, the claim that the confrontation was “nice” is untrue. The speech was done in a sharp, hard, confrontational and declamatory style. It would be intimidating to anyone called out like that. It wasn’t conversational in any way. .

              • Chris

                It wasn’t nice, but it was civil. I don’t see why putting the incoming Vice President of the United States in the spotlight, or making him a target of legitimate criticism, is wrong in this venue. He’s already in the spotlight. If he finds this “intimidating,” he should pursue other work.

                • Rick M.

                  Pence was doing what any other theater goer does and that is to enjoy a production. This is not a political appearance, but a social setting where the hectic campaign and post campaign activities can be placed on hold. That was not allowed thanks to a petulant and embarrassing circus troop who turned an evening of relaxation into a political turmoil. The onus of this is squarely on “Hamilton” and not Pence or tweets from Trump Tower.

                  As an audience member I would also be offended since I came to the theater for a Broadway production and not a political speech. If that was my objective I could sit in on a class at NYU.

                  • Chris

                    If you don’t want to see a political speech during a Broadway show, don’t go see Hamilton.

                    The VP doesn’t get “time to unwind.” He is always “on” by the nature of his job.

                    • He’s not VP, you know. VP Elect isn’t a job. There is no pay, and no duties.And that’s an absurd position that essentially carves out special status for Hamilton. You are breaking new ground in dishonesty. How many other audience members have been singled out for this treatment? The answer is none. There was nmo notice. No warning. No consent. And it is unfair to other audience members as well.

                      Your conduct in this thread exemplifies the left’s damning determination to disgrace itself following the election, declaring new and distorted standards that they would never endorse with their own. It’s extremely disappointing.

                    • Rick M.

                      I go to see a show and not political speeches. This is not the theater of the absurd – similar to the sillyness you present to defend the indefesable. Sad.

                      I can’t quite comprehend how crude it is to violate the personal space of a celebrity who is simply attempting to have a normal activity that we all enjoy. I am not in awe of celebrity since I was exposed via my father and mother to the rich and famous at an early age.

                      I have seen entertainers and political notables in a relaxed setting. A few weeks ago we were dining in Boston and the governor – Charlie Baker – was a table over. I supported his campaign, but would never intrude on his night out. That would be a crass example of incredibly poor manners. The same should apply to a night out by Pence, Obama or the ultra famous such as Jack Marshall or Kim Kardashian.

                    • Chris

                      “And that’s an absurd position that essentially carves out special status for Hamilton…”

                      I already said that I wouldn’t have minded this speech no matter where it was given. If a Starbucks barista had given this speech to Obama, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it provided she cleared it with management first.

                      I was responding specifically to the ridiculous notion that someone wouldn’t want to hear a political message at “Hamilton.”

                      “Your conduct in this thread exemplifies the left’s damning determination to disgrace itself following the election, declaring new and distorted standards that they would never endorse with their own.”

                      See above. I absolutely would accept this toward one of “my own.”

                    • The rationalization you are living is…

                      Rationalization 50A. Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care”

                      Rationalization 50 is The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.” The theory there is that as long as “nobody “is bothered by the unethical conduct, it’s ethical. Of course, the flaw in that argument is that there is always someone who properly objects to unethical conduct, so the rationalization fails for the same reason as #1, “Everybody does it”…it often isn’t true.

                      Rationalization 50A solves that technical problem by asserting the validity of completely subjective ethics: as long as the self-satisfied, egomaniacal individual doesn’t care about the ethical standards and values being breached or the predictable results of the conduct breaching them, it doesn’t matter who cares. His or her own assessment is enough. If it’s not unethical to him, it’s not unethical. Neat!

                      This places 50A in close proximity to #14, Self-validating Virtue. The difference is that in that rationalization, the unethical actor is convinced that since he or she is inherently virtuous, anything they do must therefore also be virtuous. 50A re-defines ethical conduct as only involving “things I care about,” no matter who is involved.

                      I’m sure you’re sincere. You still don’t have the right or authority to waive everyone else’s right to be treated with fairness and respect.

    • Ike

      ” since they know that Trump and Pence will target their lives, their families and their communities personally”

      What exactly did Pence say that allows the cast and crew of “Hamilton” to be absolutely sure he will “target their lives, their families and their communities personally?”

      • Chris

        I’m not going to explain this to you, since you apparently have access to the Internet and can easily research Pence’s positions. Try googling “Pence conversion therapy” and “Pence HIV funding.”

        • Pence is an ass. Don’t get me wrong, but what the actors did is…. Wow. I have the best simile.

          Imagine the actors were McDonald’s employees. Mike Pence walks in and orders a McRib, (Because he’s an awful person and enjoys the thought of causing the extinction of whatever animal McDonald’s is putting in the McRib this season.) the burger guy takes the order, takes his money, spits on the McRib in front of Pence, and says “Have a great Day”

          You’re arguing that it’s OK to spit in Pence’s burger because Pence is Pence, and the McBurger dude was polite about it.

          • Spitting on the burger is a good analogy in terms of a service provider *fundamentally* violating the promised service.

            But, I think there are differences in terms of the actual way in which the promised service was fundamentally violated….which does undermine the analogy…

            But I see where you are going. But even then, the knee-jerks have already decided that the special pleading argument that these are *actors* and therefore have a different set of rules apply to them because somehow they are more in tune with the 1st Amendment or something.

            Oh and also, they’ve already made the special pleading argument that “it was a political play” or some other nonsense like that.

            They really are imaginative when they grasp for every straw possible. You know, Custer tried EVERYTHING when he was on that last stand hill also in a battle that lost from the beginning.

            • The more I think about it… The more I think it’s an apt analogy.

              Is the contention that because the actors waited until the show was mostly over, it’s not like spitting on the burger? Fine then… The McBurger dude waited until the last bite of endangered McRib was about to pass Pence’s lips and ninja-spat on it as his mouth closed. I’ll grant you that it’s less probable. But then… This was a very improbable situation to begin with.

          • Chris

            Pence is an ass. Don’t get me wrong, but what the actors did is…. Wow. I have the best simile.

            Imagine the actors were McDonald’s employees. Mike Pence walks in and orders a McRib, (Because he’s an awful person and enjoys the thought of causing the extinction of whatever animal McDonald’s is putting in the McRib this season.) the burger guy takes the order, takes his money, spits on the McRib in front of Pence, and says “Have a great Day”

            You’re arguing that it’s OK to spit in Pence’s burger because Pence is Pence, and the McBurger dude was polite about it.

            This is mindless. You’ve literally driven me to the point where I feel the need to explain to you, an adult, that gently criticizing someone is not the same as spitting in their food.

            I won’t do it. You know that’s a terrible simile, because you aren’t a moron.

            • Purposefully making their burger wrong? Admonishing bible verses as they serve you? What makes the simile better, in your mind?

              • Can I try? Since they’ve sacrificed all credibility on this issue, let’s go whole hog…

                “It’s more like Mother Teresa going up to Adolf Hitler and gentling asking him to stop killing Jews.”

                And as ridiculous as I’ve tried to make that sound, don’t forget, Chris has Godwinned other topics in less time…

              • Chris

                How about giving the exact same speech the Hamilton cast gave after handing over the burger?

                • But you still seem to be thinking that speech was a good thing. Like it was some kind of legitimate dialogue…. It wasn’t.

                  This is kind of the same logic at work as the people who tell women they’re going to hell for killing their babies at abortion clinics…. It’s speech that is obviously unwelcome, inappropriate, not what was paid for and just as (un)likely to affect their behaviours.

                  • Chris

                    “This is kind of the same logic at work as the people who tell women they’re going to hell for killing their babies at abortion clinics….”

                    It was nothing like that. Did you read the speech? You seem unable to make an apt comparison here.

                    • I’m going to get all Canadian-y for a second.

                      http://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/mlb/canadian-national-anthem-all-lives-matter-change-1.3676477

                      Remigio Pereira is the douchenugget who substituted the words “We’re all brothers and sisters. All Lives Matter to the great.” instead of “With glowing hearts we see thee rise. The True North strong and free.” while waving a little scrap of paper with #AllLivesMatter on it.

                      Now.. you know me. I’m no fan of Black Lives Matter. But Remingo’s job was to sing the fucking song. Properly. Professionally.

                      I’m consistent on this. I don’t care who the audience member is, or how sub-human you think politicians are. If they pay a ticket price to watch your show, you give them their fucking show. You don’t bitch about it, you don’t add things you know they won’t appreciate, you take their money and you do your thing. Properly. Professionally. And if that’s too burdensome, because you think you can’t go a whole couple of hours without inserting your politics (of which you may share an understanding level with the hobo down the street smearing his shit into a wall for all we know) you say, “No sir, I can’t take your money, you aren’t welcome here.”

                      I know the left is in full “The ends justify the means” mode right now, but you need to do better. You need to do better because this makes you look bad. Not to people who’s minds are mostly made up (like me) but to the average Joe who knows damn well what would happen to him if he fucked with a customer at work. This is a blatant breach of the golden rule, and your inability to understand it is your own dysfunction.

            • I probably wasn’t clear enough the first time, so I’ll try to do better this time.

              This is a classic compassion versus honor dichotomy. Honor is eusocial order: limitations or mandates placed on society to improve the general quality of life. Laws, rights, and duties fall under this umbrella. People pay taxes, obey the law, attend jury duty, educate themselves, et cetera. The honor of the United States is based on such ideas as the following: privacy is important for the society we want even if it makes it harder to protect people sometimes. Torture would make society worse off even if it afforded advantages to enforcing laws. Politicians should have a personal life that they can separate from their job whenever they want, just like everyone else who isn’t on a reality show. Whether their personal life will maintain the goodwill of the voters is different kind of honor, however. Honor comes in many flavors based on one’s culture. Not all of them are correctly aligned with ethics, nor can any of them be ethical all the time, per the Ethics Incompleteness Theorem. That brings us to compassion.

              Compassion is eusocial chaos: Making exceptions to rules, being proactive to support people, contributing parts of your personal life towards helping others, and forgiving people or showing mercy are all aspects of compassion. Depending on what aspect of compassion people practice they may donate to charities, start social movements, invite others into their lives, or be willing to be the first to show trust in a conflict. Compassion is as important as honor, but just like honor, its effects on society also depend on who you want to show compassion to and how you act on it. Many compassionate people don’t show compassion to everybody, labeling some people as irredeemable and unworthy of it. Others are ineffective or even harmful in exercising compassion, e.g. conversion therapy for sexual minorities, for example.

              The boundary between honor and compassion blurs as people do the same thing for different reasons. Some people may consider it a matter of honor to oppose a person at every turn because of a disagreement on one issue. Those people are passive-aggressive and make society worse. Other people would agree that it’s good to get along with people despite disagreements, as a matter of honor, but assert that they are compelled by compassion to break that principle when a person presents a great enough threat. Past a certain point, they think that a person must be opposed at every turn with civil words, so they are forced to listen and get no respite. The situation becomes what I call a noise war, where people do passive-aggressive things which are nominally within their rights but which harm other people, in order to force them to change (“I’m not touching you! See?”). Humanity has had noise wars since before the inception of civilized society, when laws and social customs prohibited physical fights. Of course, they are ludicrously ineffective. I’m not sure I’d be wrong to say they literally never work the way people want them to. Changing a person’s mind, and especially changing a culture, takes restraint and finesse. Demonstrations of honor go a long way towards convincing someone to listen.

              Not only that, but we haven’t reached the threshold where we need to violate honor in order to make the world better or keep it from getting worse. Not even close. We have a government that answers to the majority and rules to protect the minority, and as long as we don’t try to bend the government to our own ends one way or another, that’s how it will stay. There are no extenuating circumstances here, only immature humans making things harder on themselves even as they make things harder on each other. Attempting to invoke “desperate times” inappropriately will actively hurt society by causing the deterioration of the honor which protects it, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to cause the apocalypse in the process of attempting to prevent it.

              So please, even if you think Pence is literally the Devil, give him the benefit of law. Oppose him when he’s doing his work, and let him enjoy his holiday. Otherwise he will go on holiday less and be angrier when he works, and do you really want that?

    • I think that the criticism leveled at Dixon regarding the speech is based on the idea that it is a violation of honor (i.e. eusocial order, the limits we place on ourselves to make things better overall even if in some situations they hurt us), not to mention a breach of professionalism. The idea is that Pence entered the theater through the door marked “audience” and should be treated accordingly, same as you expect not to be lectured by waiters, cashiers, clerks at the DMV, or anyone else you interact with in the course of patronizing establishments. You’re there for one thing only, and if they attempt to “have a conversation” with you based on a serious topic (as opposed to weather or sports or something), they’re stepping out of bounds and being unprofessional.

      However, the reason people would consider forcing the conversation with politicians necessary is that other than interacting with those in power in the course of serving them like any other clientele, they don’t know how to make their voices heard in the political world. They feel powerless to influence the movers and shakers on their designated terms, so they use the work they are already doing as a platform to speak. It’s a very mild version of a strike, where withholding that same work is a bargaining chip, or the tactics of Project Mayhem from Fight Club, where the fact that the Fight Club members were regular people that sustained society’s infrastructure was used as an example of their ubiquity and necessity to underscore their threat. “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on: we cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep.”

      I can understand why they do it, and I understand that getting people to talk about important but difficult topics is often hard, but trying to engage customers in difficult conversations is not only cheap, but even more ineffective. Remember the Starbucks issues from a while back?

      https://ethicsalarms.com/2015/03/17/ethics-observations-on-starbucks-put-your-customer-on-the-spot-program/
      https://ethicsalarms.com/2015/03/21/i-suppose-it-is-comforting-to-know-that-i-wasnt-unfair-to-starbucks-and-howard-schultz/

      Customers will usually naturally resent being made to think about difficult things when they’re going about their day, even especially if they’re politicians and talk about difficult things for a living. Call me crazy, but I’m under the impression that a more effective and ideal way to get a politician to address an issue would be holding public events and getting people writing letters and talking to their friends. Isn’t that the way this is supposed to work? I find it difficult to believe an actor in a major production doesn’t have enough community pull to hold awareness events for starting a movement on his own time.

      • But EC…has there ever been a time when it was easier for an actor or a celebrity to make a political position known? With social media, YouTube, the cable celebrity machine, blogs…this is less excusable that it ever has been.

        • Good point. I mentioned in the last paragraph that an actor should have no problem raising awareness with community pull, but forgot to note that people are also following them on social media, which makes it even easier. I concur, there is no excuse for breaching professionalism. I just wanted to demonstrate that yes, I understand the motivation, which is why people should take it seriously when I point out that there are ethical alternatives which are more effective than ambushing customers.

    • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

      This is the unbelievable arrogance of the performing arts. I attend a theatrical performance because I wish to see that performance (or some performance of a work of dramatic art). That is all. Many shows have political overtones and undertones written into the scripts or books themselves: and when one attends those shows one knows what to expect from the show itself. But it is not, repeat not, within the purview of cast or producers to lecture me, or anyone else in the audience about the cast’s or producers’ political views, to step outside of the work of art to impose personal beliefs on the audience.

      Being an actor, a singer, a director or a producer does not automatically bestow extra intelligence or wisdom upon that actor, singer, director or producer. And the function of being an actor, singer, director or producer does not bestow the right to foist that actor’s, singer’s, director’s or producer’s political views on the audience, regardless of who may be sitting in that audience.

      This kind of behavior, and your response to it, only proves to me the inestimable arrogance of the left, and particularly the amazing and deluded self-importance of those in the arts. Your final statement that the behavior was not only ethical but NECESSARY proves my point, in one brief sentence.

  3. Great post, great issue. Here’s something to consider though: can a guy like Mike Pence — I mean, the Vice President-Elect of the United States, and a polarizing figure, especially in New York City, even if unintentionally so — really have an expectation that he can attend anywhere, even date night in Manhattan — without being spoken to in his official capacity? True, he was attempting to be a private citizen, but — do we know how he got his tickets? Was he gifted them? Did he pay market rate? Did Trump or one of his proxies give it to him? Was he attending in his official or private capacity? Does he even have a private capacity? I’m not saying that these are dispositive quesitons, Jack, but, I guess I’d want to know the answers before taking a stand on this.

    I do see your point though.

    But, being a governmental ethicist, and having just lived through a Chicago Cubs ticket ethics issue — in the very epicenter of that — I have earned a bit of wisdom about public office. If he really was attempting to be a private citizen — relatively easy in NYC but not so easy at a Hamilton show there these days — then this was unfair, a sneak attack, if you will.

    I’d say, looked at in as egalitarian fashion as I can — equality being the prized virtue here, the level playing field — in all fairness, Pence should have been told that he’d be harangued/verbally assaulted/spoken to prior to it happening.

    Moreover, there is also the delicious irony of Donald Trump tweeting that he thinks the theatre should be a “safe space.” My God, what does he think? He’s an undergraduate at Yale? Is he trying to sound like one?

    • Eternal optometrist

      I can guarantee you that Hillary is just as polarizing in parts of the Midwest. She would not get treated like this, and if she did, the condemnation would be loudest from within the tent. But, again, in flyover country we pride ourselves on not being dicks.

      • Chris

        Here was the speech, as quoted by Jack:

        “We hope you will hear us out. 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. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

        Let’s try out a Midwest-cast-talks-to-Hillary version:

        “We hope you will hear us out. We, sir — we — are the Middle 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. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

        Somehow, I’m not particularly outraged. I might think they’re wrong on the facts. But I wouldn’t think such a speech ethically wrong.

      • NOBODY is treated like Pence was, ANYWHERE.

      • I’m also from the Midwest, and absolutely know that Hillary Clinton is polarizing in certain parts hereof. Frankly, wouldn’t be offended if members of the Trump camp harangued her like this at, say, the Goodman Theater in downtown Chicago. Of course, that is highly unlikely to have happened, since 99.99% of the theater community is “progressive Democrat” [certainly in any big city] but my point is that the Vice President elect IS fair game, even on date night in Manhattan. I’m not so sure I’d want to make guarantees like the one you pretty easily make if, say Hillary Clinton were attending a community theater performance in, say, Terre Haute, IN or Mansfield, OH. I am not saying that every Trump supporter in Indiana or Ohio is a “dick,” and would harangue her, btw, but AM saying that it is not inconceivable that such a thing could happen. [It is nearly inconceivalbe, however, that Hillary Clinton would attend a community theater performance in Terre Haute or Mansfield, so this is largely a thought experiment.]

    • deery

      True, he was attempting to be a private citizen, but — do we know how he got his tickets? Was he gifted them? Did he pay market rate? Did Trump or one of his proxies give it to him? Was he attending in his official or private capacity? Does he even have a private capacity? I’m not saying that these are dispositive quesitons, Jack, but, I guess I’d want to know the answers before taking a stand on this.

      Pence was apparently sitting in the “comped VIP seats” section. Who comped him the seats is not publicly known right now.

      • Why in the world does that matter? And theaters don’t have “VIP sections.” They have prime seats. Some have boxes. What difference does it make who paid for the tickets? What difference do you think it makes? Can’t wait to hear it, but warning: whatever it is, you are wrong. An audience member is an audience member.

    • If he was first informed,and given a chance to veto it, sure. (He had a ticket–he should not be made to leave ) That’s fine.

      Your questions:

      “can a guy like Mike Pence — I mean, the Vice President-Elect of the United States, and a polarizing figure, especially in New York City, even if unintentionally so — really have an expectation that he can attend anywhere, even date night in Manhattan — without being spoken to in his official capacity?”

      You mean, should he have to avoid going out into public, and is that on him? Surely not! Any other answer would create The Jerk’s Veto. Seeing a show is unique, since the Secret Service prevents “conversations,” and people who shout abuse at such elected figures are expressing a right as that right was designed to be expressed, in the right forum as well. Anyone, and I mean anyone, should be able to go to a show,without being targeted, just as airplane pilots shouldn’t get on the speaker and harangue a particular passenger. I’ve been on planes with Charlie Rangell, Hulk Hogan, Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett, Chris Matthews controversial journalists and others, They were allowed to fly like anyone else.

      “True, he was attempting to be a private citizen, but — do we know how he got his tickets? Was he gifted them? Did he pay market rate? Did Trump or one of his proxies give it to him?”

      I don’t see the point. How someone gets tickets is irrelevant. The assumption is that every audience member got them legally, of course. Somebody bought them. So what if he was comped, even by the theater? Taking a seat is still not consent to an ambush.

      “Was he attending in his official or private capacity?”

      How do you attend a non-offcial function in an official capacity? He wasn’t on the job. It was after hours. I have had SCOTUS justices attend my productions, but they wouldn’t be wearing robes. They are no different from anyone else.

      “Does he even have a private capacity?”

      That’s a better question once he is in office, no?.

    • You don’t think those words were deliberate by Trump? Of course they were. It was pretty clever,actually. A theater audience really IS a safe space, and the same ideological end of the spectrum that is demanding specious “safe spaces” from dissent and debate refused to respect a pre-existing one.

      It’s really a bad idea to let confirmation bias cause one to underestimate Trump. I would think the election made THAT apparent..

      • I’m not underestimating Trump’s cleverness, and certainly am not suffering from “confirmation bais.” I am merely noting the delicious irony of it all. I don’t believe in “safe spaces,” except in one’s own home.

        Your argument seems to turn on the “reasonable expectation of privacy” that a paying audience member has when purchasing a license to attend a show. My point is that high-profile celebrities, like the VP-elect, have and should expect to have a much lower threshold expectation. I don’t necessarily like that, but it is the case.

        I take a different view of their personal-private capacity. I don’t think that government officials (of government officials-elect) really do have a private capacity. Even when they are “on vacation.” They do in their own homes and bedrooms, but that’s about it. They, of course, can choose not to listen, and it isn’t NICE to harangue them when they are in the theater, but this was after the show, not during it or before it. So I do NOT see it as “unethical.” I’d hope that people on the right would harangue lefty politicians, given the chance–as long as it’s not personally disrespectful or abusive, which this was not. True, on the obverse of the ticket, there is no warning that “Licensee may be subject to verbal harangues by performers,” but if this were a private dinner party, and one of the guests decided to launch into Mike Pence and his wife, I wouldn’t see a difference. My point in bringing up the personal v. private capacity is that elected officials often DO attend events in their official capacity, which, in some jurisdictions, allows them to accept tickets from the host at face value. That, admittedly, is a different issue, but the point remains that, while he may not like it, and neither does Barack Obama, he is a public figure, and people can address him as such, even when he’s in the audience. I would hope they would be respectful, which appears to have been the case here.

        • 1. Now, now, Steve, be honest. You said ” Moreover, there is also the delicious irony of Donald Trump tweeting that he thinks the theatre should be a “safe space.” My God, what does he think? He’s an undergraduate at Yale? Is he trying to sound like one?” as if dumb old Donald stepped into it. Did you really think that he was trolling with that tweet (because he was—many picked up on it), or did you fall into the natural trap of assuming he was doing something stupid? Where’s the irony, and what’s delicious about it, if it reflects well on Trump? “My God, what does he think?’ sure reads to me as if the irony was that Trump didn’t realize he was endorsing Yale’s nonsense (which he wasn’t.)

          2. “They, of course, can choose not to listen, and it isn’t NICE to harangue them when they are in the theater, but this was after the show, not during it or before it.”

          I am a government ethicist and a theater ethicist, as well as an actor, stage director, producer and playwright, Steve, and unless the lights were brought up and the actors dropped character, and everyone was given a chance to walk out, the show was NOT over. That bit was staged, with the cast standing like an army behind “Burr.”

          Your construct would make it impossible for public figures to go about living. If one is in public, one has no expectation of privacy, but in a setting where well know rules and traditions of conduct occur, a public figure does have an expectation of being left alone, and not abused, with this was.

          3. You really believe that public figures consent to being harangued by flight attendants, grocers, Starbucks barristas and actors on stage, so you? Wow.

          • Jack–I see your point, but respectfully disagree. Mike Pence got special access to his Hamilton tickets. He used his standing as a public figure to get them. He is fair game. He can talk back if he wishes, but he used his special access to get his lat minute Hamilton tickets as a public figure/VIP. He cannot have it both ways. Let’s agree to disagree on this if we must.

          • Chris

            Your construct would make it impossible for public figures to go about living.

            You keep wildly inflating the stakes. What you really mean when you say this is that Steve Berlin’s construct would make it impossible for public figures to go about living without being publicly criticized. Which…is already true, and not wrong at all.

            No, a Starbucks barista shouldn’t criticize a public figure when they come in for a latte. Theater is different, especially theater as political as “Hamilton.”. A grande caramel frappucino doesn’t have a political message; “Hamilton” does, and Pence, if he has any level of cultural awareness or desire to know what he’s shelling out a thousand bucks for, probably knew what that was when he walked in. That the actors paused for a moment after the show to direct that message toward the incoming Vice President of the United States does not bother me in the slightest. It needed to be said, and Pence needed to hear it. Unfortunately he and Trunp are now pretending to have been victimized by it, because they have the skin of a newborn baby.

            • I’m guessing that Pence did not shell out $1,000 bucks per ticket, since I believe that under New York law, the theater cannot sell the ticket above face value. I’m guessing that he got his tickets at face value. That itself raises a whole other set of issues, that we just went through in Chicago — you go to the theater or ball game in your official capacity, as marked by the way you used your official position to get into the show in the first place — then you subject yourself to polite criticism. You deal with it. Pence, to his credit, took it in stride. His boss-to-be did not.

              That this was a breach of theater etiquette (if it indeed was — the WaPo’s theater critic, Peter Marks, argues that proper theater etiquette would have been for Pence to have greeted the cast backstage, but he was apparently on his way out, trying to get out quietly when the “verbal harassment’ began, so I’m not so sure about whether it really was such a breach, which is, finally, what Jack’s argument turns on) does not make it unethical. Maybe not nice, and probably put Pence (and would put Notorious RBG in Jack’s counter-example) in an uncomfortable, and unexpectedly awkward situation, but not unethical.

              • Pence meeting with the cast backstage is indeed protocol, and I have seen it many times. He may have been told that he would not be welcome. I wouldn’t be surprised.

                • If you were able to confirm that this what happened, then yes, Jack, I would find this whole affair uglier than I think now.

                  In the meantime, our new advisory opinion here in Chicago would prohibit Pence [mutatis mutandis] from purchasing VIP tickets at the last minute. It is causing consternation among the politerati, and among venue hosts like the professional sports teams and Braodway in Chicago, but is in line with the opinion of our colleagues in New York City. Of course that is an entirely different ethics issue, with different public policy concerns, and is based primarily a gift/perceived abuse of official position analysis.

                  I kind of wish I were still teaching undergrads. This Pence/Hamilton issue is a really fine one, even though we seem to differ on some aspects of it. Hey–that’s why appellate courts have multiple judges! Again, thank you for hosting a thoughtful discussion. I enjoyed your comments on the Baltimore/NPR show, btw.

      • Ah, Jack–herein is what I’m talking about:
        “The cast had known ahead of time that Pence was coming. Pence contacted the owner of the theater, the Nederlander Organization, to request several “house seats” from a reserve that is set aside for “special guests and urgent last-minute needs,” show spokesman Sam Rudy said. Pence paid for his tickets, although Rudy declined to say whether Pence paid face value or how many people were in his party. The Nederlander Organization notified the cast, crew and producers in advance of Pence’s attendance.”

        You take advantage of that kind of special access, and hey man, you’re a damn public figure. Put on your big boy pants and take it like a man.

        No whining from your boss.
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-mike-pence-stole-the-show-at-hamilton/2016/11/19/c838480a-ae89-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html

        Btw, if you want to read my handiwork on the whole Cubs face value ticket kerfuffle [which caused me to enjoy the World Series less than I otherwise would have] see this–I’m curious as to your professional commentary on it.
        https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/ethics/provdrs/reg/news/2016/november/hi-dem-tkts.html

        • 1. oooo…I never got to that Cubs ticket issue here! Thanks! I’ll take it on.

          2. Steve, public figures handle it that way for the theater’s benefit. They also typically come in right after lights dim, to cause as little disruption as possible. He also has a Secret Service detail.

          I find it hard to believe that you are aguing what you appear to be. Justice Ginsberg came to a show I directed. She asked in advance to have a center seat close to the stage, so she could hear. I comped her and a guest. You really are saying that it would be fair and appropriate for me to have the cast set up to confront her about her disssnet in Bush v. Gore from the stage, without her consent? You would really say to her, “You take advantage of that kind of special access, and hey gal, you’re a damn public figure. Put on your big girl robes and take it like a grown-up”? That would be a reasonable and fair way for my theater to treat her without warning or notice?

          • A breach of traditional theater decorum, yes, and not nice, yes, but unethical? no. When you use your special access as a VIP to a high-demand event like Hamilton [not necessarily Jack’s show to which he comped Justice Ginsburg, though maybe someday that would be high-demand!] I think you are fair game. We just differ on that. I rarely disagree with you, but on this I do. Would it have been not at all nice to harangue Notorious RBG at your show? Yes, but I do not see how it is unethical. I think it rude for patrons to boo Pence, but not unethical [I realize that there’s a difference between other patrons and the actors]. Especially if he was sitting in the “VIP” area, which, apparently, he was.

            To Pence’s credit, he apparently listened to the whole thing. He certainly could have talked back, and, actually, might have missed a fine opportunity to address the actors back to say “I hear you loud and clear.” I just do not believe that public figures like this have the kind of zone of privacy that you do. That’s ok.

            As to Trump’s tweet, of course I know he knows exactly what he’s doing. I just don’t believe that the theater is as safe a space as he or others would like–it is no more a safe space than the Yale campus, both private enclaves. I just don’t believe in safe spaces except in one’s home or bedroom.

            In any case, it’s a great case study, and I appreciate your posting it.

            • crella

              ” When you use your special access as a VIP to a high-demand event like Hamilton ……….. I think you are fair game.”

              I just don’t understand this logic. The tickets were paid for, arrangements made as he has a security detail and is a public figure. How can being ‘fair game’ be justified? If this is how visits by VIPs are handled, what has he done wrong? Would other figures who have seen Hamilton this way have been equally ‘fair game’…how far in advance did the Obamas get tickets, I wonder, or any of a number of stars I’ve read about attending? Are they all equally up for being lectured by the cast?

              • Chris

                “how far in advance did the Obamas get tickets, I wonder, or any of a number of stars I’ve read about attending? Are they all equally up for being lectured by the cast?”

                Yes.

              • I don’t get it either, Crella. An audience member is like any other guest or any other customer. His or her method of finding a seat doesn’t change the duties due to him.

          • Chris

            . You really are saying that it would be fair and appropriate for me to have the cast set up to confront her about her disssnet in Bush v. Gore from the stage, without her consent?

            Had you said it like this:

            “We hope you will hear us out. We, Madame– we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your court will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

            Then sure. Why not?

            • I explained why not. She did not attend to be targeted like that. The ticket did not subject her to that, and she did not consent. She was at leave, not at work. It interferes with the audience’s enjoyment of the show, and is artistically destructive. It will discourage public figures from attending live theater, and they need to. It’s a terrible precedent. It is a breach of theater tradition and professionalism. And many other reasons, also to be found here.

              You’re hopeless on this topic.

              • Chris

                It will discourage only extraordinarily over-sensitive public figures from attending the theater. Again, the proper response to this is “Thank you, and I promise to stand for all Americans.” Not to whine that you were victimized.

                Seriously, if a politician wilts this easily under mild criticism, they shouldn’t be a politician.

                • “Seriously, if a politician wilts this easily under mild criticism, they shouldn’t be a politician.”

                  Begging the question.

                  He either “wilted under mild criticism” OR he “opposed blatantly unethical conduct”.

                  Those are your two options, and since you’ve been thoroughly debunked on your clearly partisan spin but doubled down on the same rationalizations, I know you’ll never see the light on this.

                • Pence hasn’t whined or complained at all, not that it matters. This is another deflection. How a victim of unethical treatment responds to it, or whether he or she even realizes it, is just moral luck. I doesn’t change the nature of the conduct..

                  • Chris

                    It does matter that Pence did not whine or complain–I was wrong to attribute Trump’s reaction to him. Pence responded appropriately.

                    But Trump and Pence have much more power over our country and our lives than the cast of Hamilton, and Trump’s hysterical overreaction should be the story here.

                    • Dwayne N. Zechman

                      Abuse of power is abuse of power. The relatively low amount of power being abused doesn’t make it less wrong.

                      –Dwayne

          • There is, arguably, a certain symmetry that may have some ethical implications.* Take your interesting RBG example, which you place in a venue that is “more private” (your own theater production), than in the Richard Rodgers Theater on Broadway (great teaching scenario, btw!). Remember that Ginsburg, and now, apparently, Sotomayor, are getting involved in the political process by speaking off the bench on political topics, and commenting on matters not strictly before the Court. Even on Trump. [I believe that, as a matter of judicial ethics, they can do that, and not run afoul, as long as they’re not speaking of matters currently or known to be coming before the Court). But my real point is that, once they do that, how is it unfair [if ethics is fairness] not to politely “confront” or ask them or speak gently to them [if unavoidably condescendingly and captively] about matters they have commented on? Pence has made statements about the LGBT community not in his official capacity as Indiana Governor, but as a candidate. Is not turnabout fair play? I know, I know — it’s not a perfect symmetry, but there is some, I think it ust reasonably be admitted.

            I now recall my reactions to when POTUS Obama publicly berated the members of the SCOTUS after it issued its Citizens United decision in January 2010. In his most public event, his State of the Union address. Seems pretty analogous to this. I remember being really offended by that. I thought it poor decorum to criticize, even humiliate, the SCOTUS, in such a venue, in which they could respond, about a decision that was duly and legally reached [for the record, I believe it a correct decision, but that again is an entirely separate issue]. But unethical? No. A rude thing to do? You bet. A sneak attack on people who cannot respond? You bet. Political theater? Political hijinks? You bet. But not unethical.

            Damn worthy of discussion though.

            As an aside, imagine the many biographers of Donald Trump, 20 years hence. Look at the treasure trove of tweets they will be able to use. All those primary sources.

            *I do not know whether symmetry has any intrinsic moral or ethical value. That is a deep, complex question in its own right. Yet, many famous moral or ethical formulations are based on some fundamental notion of symmetry, like the Golden Rule [or its Talmudic iteration], Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and Rawls’s Theory of Justice as Fairness. Why? Because we humans see mathematics to be trans-cultural, absolute — the closest thing we have to a notion of Platonic perfection. I’m not saying that it’s persuasive, by the way — just that it is really worth thinking about.

  4. Jack said, “Let me be fair and transparent to the cast of any production, anywhere, that I attend, the way the Hamilton cast was not fair to Mike Pence. If your cast tries to ambush and harass any member of an audience I’m in, I swear to you I’m going to be out of my seat and participating in the “conversation” at the top of my theatrically-trained lungs, and I will make those actors look like the pompous, presumptuous, unprofessional and unethical jerks they are.”

    I commend you for presenting this and I’ll be one that will stand and support and applaud your efforts. You do know that your choice will have consequences – “you’ll never work in this town again”.

    • Conduct always has consequences. You never know, though. Adams thought he would be ruined when he represented the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre.

      Actually, I hope lots of people resolve to do this, I’m not kidding. If actors know that opening the door and ambushing an audience risks turning into an uncontrolled debate, they won’t do it. Note that the actor still had a script. The typical actor is not going to be able to hold his own in a real debate without his words being given to him. Aaron Burr would be a challenge. I think I can out argue the actor who plays Aaron Burr, and so could you.

      • It was an “interesting” morning.

        After church this morning I stopped at an area coffee shop on the way home. Someone I know in front of me in line started casually talking with me about the Hamilton event, we were in general agreement about what the cast did. We were rambling a little bit about it, the line was long, then from out of the blue a guy a couple of people behind me spoke up in a very loud voice and said “You Trump supporters are all racists and don’t deserve to live.” The girl I was talking to and I paused a moment to make eye contact with each other – she knew what was about to happen and she turned around the opposite direction when I turned to face the idiot. Guess what; the guy behind us was someone I actually knew from a local theatrical company and when he recognized me it looked like his face was about to fall off the front of his head, he too knew what was about to happen.

        I’m not going to go into any of the sorted details of what came pouring out of my mouth for the next couple of minutes as I backed him up and “encourage” him to sit down in a chair until I finished. When I was done he followed my directions exactly; he calmly stood up like and adult, profusely apologized to everyone in the coffee shop, turned around and walked out the door, and he’ll probably never to return to that coffeeshop again.

        The lady at the counter thanked me and said he’d been rather belligerent with some other customers over the past few weeks but no one had stood up to him.

        My coffee ended up being free so she got a much bigger tip.

        There are way too many idiots out there with uncontrolled mouths.

          • Thanks.

            I don’t take anything that can be considered a threat very lightly. It was NOT how I wanted to end my morning.

            At about 9:30 last night I got a nice respectful visit from the police regarding this. I guess since the guy leveled what could be considered a threat the owner decided later in the day to let the police know about the incident and that the guy had been bothering others routinely.

            It was NOT how I wanted to end my day.

            Speaking of threats: Don’t all these idiots that are leveling death threats at Trump know that the FBI and Secret Service will investigate each one of them and they are going to be thrown in jail any time Trump is scheduled to be within 200 miles of their home or work? The FBI and Secret Service don’t take threats lightly either.

        • Chris

          Good for you. That guy was an asshole.

        • Followup on this event:

          A local business that I do some engineering and programming consulting with got a phone call today from a caller that blocked their number telling them that I’m a racist Trump supporter and they should watch out for me. The lady that answered the phone knows me pretty well and is a full blown Trump supporter herself and she just laughed at the caller and hung up the phone.

          Anyone care to guess why someone would do something like this?

          I seriously doubt that the caller was the person I had contact with on Sunday morning he has no idea places that I do consulting work for and he might still be cleaning out his drawers. I’m absolutely sure it was either someone that overheard the event, the place was pretty full on Sunday.

          Freaking moron.

          • crella

            They blocked their number….how brave of them! If they get angry enough, they might get a little gang together to either deluge the company with calls or boycott it. I hope not. That seems to be how these creeps deal with things instead of coming out directly and standing by their convictions…

  5. Hi, Jack. Love the narrative! I was never able to reconnect with your blogsite. There’s got to be a way! I guess it’s time to try again… if I can ever get enough time off to access my own PC. I’m wearing out this new smartphone of mine! Holiday greetings to you and your rowdy gang of misfit posters!

  6. Eric Monkman

    In a different alternate universe, would you have done the same during one of the parabases of The Wasps? Would a production of The Wasps have been unethical if Cleon had been in the audience? I don’t really see a whole lot of difference between The Wasps and what happened here, aside from the fact that Hamilton is not a specifically anti-Pence play.

    Inserting political statements into dramatic performances has a long history (to the point that there is a Greek term for it). The art would be diminished if the drama could no longer be political.

    • No, because in one case the statement is in the staging and text, and in the other it is after the show itself ends. As a direcor, I often have the cast confront the audience, as the audience, not as individuals, during the show.

      It’s a big difference. Also changing the performance to make special digs at one audience member, as apparently was done to Pence, is unfair to everyone else. They have a right to see the show as it was determined to be most effective, not to see a bootleg distortion created on the spot to needle one of its members.

  7. Rick M.

    I attend the theater for entertainment, social commentary and political commentary and all three can be either singular or incorporated collectively into the production. I do not go with the intent of receiving a lecture that would be embarrassing in a government 101 class. That is what happened in New York City when vice-president Pence elect choose to see “Hamilton.”

    I was not impressed by Hamilton and obviously didn’t “buy into” the methodology that this was somehow cutting edge, Broadway. I found “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” a more noteworthy production. That is beside the point since “Hamilton” is a must see because those that tell us what to like or hate or be moderate about everything theatrical say so. Nonsense.

    I do not get offended by stage productions and enter into that venue fully realizing that my perceptions may be challenged. Good – that is the point. What I don’t pay an exorbitant ticket price for is an ancillary lecture by a cast who simply has demonstrated a lack of common sense to their audience.

    My first Broadway production was in 1954 and to this day I will go to New York City occasionally or to Boston to see a production – the latest was “An American in Paris.” I was not “lectured” at that production directly, but it was embedded in Gershwin’s work and that is the way it should be. The cast of Hamilton is an embarrassment.

    • Other Bill

      “That is beside the point since “Hamilton” is a must see because those that tell us what to like or hate or be moderate about everything theatrical say so. Nonsense.”

      Thanks for that, Rick. This “Hamilton” mania has to be overdone. I guess 97 percent of theater people agree it’s the greatest thing since canned milk. So it must be. I’m skeptical. Maybe some day cooler heads will prevail.

  8. dragin_dragon

    Great post, Jack. And I have trouble believing so few people get the point. It’s about professional ethics. If Brandon Victor Dixon had made this little speech in the lobby, as Brandon Victor Dixon, no costume, no make-up, there would be no problem. However, as you made perfectly clear, he was not Brandon Victor Dixon…he was still AARON BURR! And, as you said, he was still on script. I throw my hands in the air and walk away, muttering vague obscenities.

    • texagg04

      “And I have trouble believing so few people get the point.”

      Actually, I think most people DO get the point. We’re only hearing from the partisan knee jerks who simply don’t care.

      None so blind as the man who REFUSES to see.

  9. THE Bill

    I think anyone who thinks this is ok has to ask themselves the following question.

    What if it was a politician you liked? Would feel it was ok then?

    If you say no , then you’re a hypocrite.

    • Golden Rule 101. But read the “Hamilton” supporters: they are arguing that when a public figure goes to the theater, he or she is not just another audience member, unlike everyone else. That’s a contrived argument to allow them to justify this treatment for anyone connected to Trump.

      I also suspect that the non-actors making the argument never go to live theater.

      • Chris

        I acted during my childhood, but haven’t as an adult. I go to live theater frequently.

        And no, when a public figure goes *anywhere* they’re not just another audience member. That’s the price of being a public figure.

        • And no, when a public figure goes *anywhere* they’re not just another audience member. That’s the price of being a public figure.”

          Bzzzzt.

          Being a public figure on means one should expect people approaching him on a more *frequent* basis to discuss public topics. He still has every reason to expect those more frequent approaches to be handled as civility and protocol dictate any other discussion with any other citizen.

          That’s where the Hamilton cast, crew and management went wrong.

  10. Kevin

    Respectfully – Wrong sir. There’s a moral imperative here. When a man accepts an office and from it makes legislative decisions that moves against your civil liberties and the civil liberties of those around you. You speak. Whenever said man is within ear shot. You speak. We speak truth to power. We do so respectfully, we do so politely, but we do so. To not speak up would be the ethical failing. If Mr Pence can rally against GLBTQ people (and other marginalized groups) whenever and wherever he has a microphone, they have a responsibility to use their microphone to do the same.

    • A “moral imperative” to impose upon the audience and bully and harass a single audience member. Ridiculous.There are many legitimate venues opportunities to dissent from Pence’s positions. This isn’t one. The “moral imperative” is to deliver on what was promised in the ticket transaction, and treat a customer and a guest fairly and respectfully, like anyone else. You might want to study the blog. “Moral imperative’ is a grand sounding way to say, “I wouldn’t know an ethical principle from a tree toad.”

      • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

        I agree with Jack here. Kevin’s ‘moral imperative’ on the part of members of a Broadway show is pure arrogance by my definition. If a cast member of any theatrical production wants to make a point to a political figure, then do it by mail, email, phone or some other method, not by using one’s (un-elected) position on stage as one’s personal pulpit. Audience members did not pay for your political opinion, they paid to see a show. And the mere fact that a person can sing and dance does not mean that his political opinion deserves its espousing in an inappropriate venue. Such behavior would kindly be called unguided, but actually it is arrogance pure and simple.

      • Chris

        Stop saying that standing up to a bully is bullying. It isn’t.

        • Stop saying what the cast did wasn’t bullying. It was. Of course it was. They were on stage, They were lined up an mass. Pence was one man, and ambushed. He had committed no act to justify that confrontation. He was being abused and harassed, by a group abusing its power and position, with a supportive audience.

        • It is when the bully is minding their own business, being a regular person. Keep in mind, they don’t see you as righteous. They feel like a victim. Whether or not they are, you have to deal with how they see themselves if you want to be effective at changing their behavior the way you want to. You don’t “win” against them even if you think you do, because you’re in two entirely separate narratives.

          • Chris

            Pence said he doesn’t feel like a victim. I wouldn’t have felt like a victim in this situation. This isn’t victimization.

            • “Pence said he doesn’t feel like a victim.”

              Ok…and? Just shows he has a thick skin. We don’t determine the ethics of a situation based solely on the outcome… you know this. Don’t pretend like you don’t.

              “I wouldn’t have felt like a victim in this situation.”

              Easy for you to say.

              • Chris

                “Ok…and?”

                This is at least the third time in this conversation someone has responded to one specific rebuttal of mine as if it is the whole of my argument, completely ignoring the context of the previous discussion. A paraphrase:

                1. “Progressives want a new HUAC.”

                “Actually, that’s Newt Gingrich.”

                “Oh, so Gingrich represents all Republicans? His opinion doesn’t matter!”

                2. “No one goes to the theater for politics.”

                “Hamilton is a political play.”

                “That doesn’t matter!”

                3. “It is [bullying] It is when the bully is minding their own business, being a regular person. Keep in mind, they don’t see you as righteous. They feel like a victim.

                “Pence didn’t feel like a victim.”

                “That doesn’t matter!”

                This is a very frustrating tactic, because it requires me to then re-summarize the entire discussion preceding, and to restate arguments I’ve already made because others are pretending one sentence of my argument represents the entire thing.

                No, the fact that Pence didn’t feel like a victim is not sufficient to prove that he wasn’t victimized. It does prove that he didn’t feel like a victim, which is what EC said that I was responding to.

                I have plenty of other reasons for not seeing Pence as a victim, which I’ve already explained to you.

                • 1) That’s a dishonest summary of the HUAC discussion, you were *shown* why mentioning new “doesn’t matter”, it wasn’t just said “doesn’t matter”.

                  2) Is close to dishonest. It’s been demonstrated how the political grandstanding ambush AFTER the play is NOT relatable to the political nature of the play itself. I wouldn’t expect to be detained by a diatribe about Grace and Mercy after watching Les Miserable AFTER the play, even though that is what Les Miserable is about. Try again. Your summary is a gloss.

                  3) If you identify that “self-identified or self-denied victimhood” IS indeed irrelevant to the ethical analysis, then you aren’t protected from actually USING it as a component of an ethical analysis, which you did in the comment itself: “This isn’t victimization. Nope, perfectly fair to call you out on that within the context.

                  Try again!

            • Sorry, I was criticizing your broad statement. Do you have anything to say about that?

              In this narrow case, it is moral luck that the speech was well-received, or perhaps Pence was pressured to maintain professionalism, which the actors were not. That doesn’t make what they did right, or a good idea.

              • I recognize now I erred in generalizing that all bullies called out during their regular lives feel like victims. It really depends on the person. However, a canned speech to get someone to change their behavior unless they are already a reasonable person. Otherwise you have to get inside someone’s head and surprise them, and that takes finesse. I could see something like this working, but not nearly as often as it works in the movies. Or within a play, for that matter.

            • Chris said, “Pence said he doesn’t feel like a victim.”

              Rationalization #1 – That doesn’t make what they did right.

              Chris said, “I wouldn’t have felt like a victim in this situation.”

              Rationalization #2 – Nobody gives a damn about how you would have felt and that doesn’t make what they did right.

              Chris said, “This isn’t victimization.”

              That your opinion, not a fact.

              • Chris

                Chris said, “Pence said he doesn’t feel like a victim.”

                Rationalization #1 – That doesn’t make what they did right

                I didn’t say it did. EC said that when people are treated like this, “They feel like victims.” My point was a DIRECT response to that one argument.

                Chris said, “I wouldn’t have felt like a victim in this situation.”

                Rationalization #2 – Nobody gives a damn about how you would have felt and that doesn’t make what they did right.

                See above.

  11. I don’t understand how this is a hard call. I keep imagining Game 7 and Kobe turns to Jack and says, “hey, thanks for listening, about Anger Management…”

  12. Rick M.

    What next?

    I assume that if Pence is at a funeral or a wedding it is justified for the minister to call him out. There are boundries and this one exceeded poliitness and common sense.

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      “I assume that if Pence is at a funeral or a wedding it is justified for the minister to call him out. There are boundries and this one exceeded poliitness and common sense.’

      That expresses along the lines of how I have been thinking of actor Dixon’s preaching directed at Mike Pence. In Dixon’s sermon, there is a hint of the detestable self-righteousness of the Westboro Baptist Church bullies: showing up at a funeral for someone – a soldier, killed in action – a soldier who, along with his or her family, is a total stranger to all in the WBC…and then, scolding all funeral participants (including and especially the fallen soldier and everyone’s memory of that soldier), utterly spoiling the entitled sanctity of space for funeral participants to conduct and experience the event. If the standard set by Dixon is fair, then future audience members of “Hamilton” are justified in disrupting the play at any point – to march up on stage, grab the microphones, and preach on about, say, the crime-friendly, unequal protection-friendly racketeering of sanctuary cities, industry-killing business taxes, and economy-killing carbon taxes. What theater! Maybe a new TEA Party will rise soon – this time, with their guns blazing and their enemies dying by the dozens in hailstorms of bullets from coast to coast.

  13. CJ

    What’s with the hero fantasy? Does Mike Pence need a savior, and I wasn’t aware? (He doesn’t seem aware either, FWIW.)

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