I do want to thank Curmie, our esteemed drop-in commenter who is a drama teacher and chronicler of ethics outrages from the world of education, for ambushing me with this head-exploding story from Brandeis University. And my head had been doing so well.
Playwright Michael Weller had received a Creative Arts Award from Brandeis, and when he wrote a a play, “Buyer Beware,” that satirized the political climate on U.S. campuses the University scheduled it to make its premiere there. The satire concerns a student who discovers the works of iconic 50s era comedian Lenny Bruce, and attempts to stage a production in the spirit of the taboo-challenging comic. The production offends students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Brandeis-like university, which worries that the controversy will offend a crucial donor. The script, channeling Bruce (think George Carlin but more abrasive, and not as funny) called for a white character to use “nigger” in several instances. The play quotes Bruce’s famous manifesto against strictures against mere words: “Imagine if we just kept saying these words over and over again, sooner or later they’d become meaningless noise.”
Without reading the script, it appears, so many students protested that Brandeis administrators, proving that their spines and principles were noodle-flexible, capitulated and cancelled the production, when the statements of the protesters should have made it obvious that such a play was desperately needed. For example, Andrew Childs is an Undergraduate Department Representative for the Theater Arts Department and a member of the season’s play selection committee, told the student newspaper,
“The issue we all have with it is that [Weller] is an older, straight…, able-bodied and white man. [ Wait! Isn’t it okay to be white?] It isn’t his place to be stirring the pot.”
What are they teaching at Brandeis? Only certain genders and races can “stir the pot”?
Recent graduate Ayelet Schrek, who also made her objections known, paper that without reading the script, she trusts ” the people who told me about it. I don’t need to read the actual language to know what it is about…t is an overtly racist play and will be harmful to the student population if staged.”
Well all right then!
Defeated with such overwhelmingly fair and logical arguments like those, protesting against a liberal arts institution permitting a stage play that challenges prevailing opinions on campus, Brandeis honchos issued this sickening capitulation:
“Following open and productive conversations between [Weller] and faculty from the Theater department and the Division of Creative arts, together we decided to engage with the play through a rigorous, team-taught course next semester, while [Weller] will premiere the play in a professional venue.”
Weller says that this is a lie, and that he has heard nothing from Brandeis.
The only way this anti-democratic, anti-speech, anti-diversity of ideas, pro-indoctrination tyranny in higher education will stop is if responsible parents pull their children out of the schools and stop writing checks until it stops.