The problem is that, as you might guess, Trump-supporting Republican and conservatives are as ethically clueless as the Democrats attacking them.
Now there is a backlash against the “Hamilton” actors who singled out an audience member (who happened to be the Vice-President Elect) for specific abuse last week, because, the theory goes, elected officials who a cast doesn’t like shouldn’t be able to attend live theater without entailing the risk of being harassed. Ethics Alarms has been very clear about why this is wrong in every way, and all rebuttals have boiled down to “But we don’t like Mike Pence or Donald Trump, so we should be able to suspend ethics!”
Keep telling yourselves that.
Now it has been discovered that some of the “Hamilton” grandstanders probably didn’t vote in the election, and the actor whose mouth was used to issue the lecture to Pence had himself authored some Trump-like misogynist rhetoric in a tweet or two. This is supposed to prove hypocrisy, and undermine the legitimacy of the cast’s ambush.
It doesn’t do this, because the cast’s stunt had no legitimacy at all, votes or not, hypocrisy or not.
Is the whole Trump term going to be like this? I fear so, since the incoming President literally is bewildered by all concepts ethical, and his defenders appear to be similarly disabled.
Look: if it is per se unethical and wrong for a theatrical production to turn on audience members without consent or warning to humiliate, threaten or accost them, the qualifications of the cast members engaging in this harassment can’t make the unethical act more or less so.
If you argue that the “Hamilton” cast was more unethical because it contained such dedicated patriots that they couldn’t be bothered to vote, or because its spokesman had referred to women as “ho’s” in some tweets, then you are also saying that the ambush would have been more ethical if they all had voted and Brandon Dixon was a sensitive feminist beyond reproach. That means, to go a step further, that if the cast had spent its non-performing time volunteering for Hillary and if Dixon was a renowned lecturer on feminism and on the legal foundation for liberal refugee policy, their stunt would have been more ethical still.
NO! Harassing an audience member from the stage is completely wrong, and who does it doesn’t change the nature of the conduct or make it better or worse. Nobody should do it. No audience member should have to endure it, regardless of whether he is a candidate for sainthood, or the scum of the earth. Conservatives making the case against the cast members individually are just as ethically misguided as the cast itself and its progressive defenders.
And that’s not all.
There is a tax law that helps Broadway’s perilous financial state by allowing Broadway show backers to avoid paying taxes on production income during the show’s first year. The provision is up for renewal next year, and needs Republican votes to pass. “Ha Ha!” say the conservative warriors to “Hamilton.” “Now you’ve screwed your own industry!”
1. If the tax break is good policy, Republicans should vote for it. If it isn’t, they shouldn’t vote for it even if the Hamilton cast invited Pence back stage for a hot tub party. It’s called integrity. Vengeance isn’t ethical.
2. If the Pence ambush was unethical on its own, and it was, its effect on GOP votes in Congress doesn’t matter.
3. If the Pence ambush was the courageous example of civic engagement that its defenders claimed it to be, why would it be ethical for the production to do otherwise to protect a tax break? That’s something Donald Trump would do!
Is ethics really this hard?
Because I’m getting discouraged…