KABOOM! Brandeis Cancels A Play About Political Correctness Because Students And Faculty Protested That It Wasn’t Politically Correct

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.


Pointer: Curmie

Sources: Breitbart, Reason

18 thoughts on “KABOOM! Brandeis Cancels A Play About Political Correctness Because Students And Faculty Protested That It Wasn’t Politically Correct

  1. Interesting, but many of the parents who send their offspring there do that, no doubt, precisely because they would agree with the Brandeis reaction. This, your last sentence is a non-starter. I know, I know. You said “responsible parents”.

  2. “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

    Supreme Court Justice (and university namesake) Louis Brandeis
    Whitney v. California in 1927

    • I don’t see how, based on the most obvious cases, that modern public education hasn’t become a pseudo-religious organization akin to a seminary.

      It polices impious thought, it punishes heretical views, it shames those whose ideas and expressions are outside the approved dogma…

      • I do think that there is a much more open and frank exchange of ideas at most modern seminaries, through comparative religions courses, examining Protestantism, and church history, and current events as viewed through a “know thine enemy” lens.

      • They can only do this with the acquiescence of the courts. You have a public school system that only accepts about 1/2 the students at the state as ‘valid’ students. This is a system that actively promotes one political party and punishes members of the opposing political party. You should be able to sue and have the school funding cut, at least by half. A just court that followed the law would shut them down or at least exempt all Republicans and Independents from school taxes. The evidence is all there. How many public universities had therapists and events to help people ‘cope’ with Donald Trump’s election? Did any of them have such events for Barack Obama’s election or re-election? Would they have had them if Clinton was elected?

        • It’s crap. EVERYBODY is paying these schools to advance a worldview that a large component (arguably half) of society does not adhere to. It’s like the state taxes directed to the various state churches of the colonial era.

  3. “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.”

    I dunno. I am just speculating…the desired tyranny-stoppage might happen more quickly if enough CEOs formed a truly cohesive Union of Concerned Business Leaders; directed their respective companies’ Public Relations departments to contribute a sizable portion of their budgets to a nationwide Censorship On Campus Matters “movement;” and posted a list of tyrannical, censorious political correctness-enslaved colleges and universities in newspaper ads for job openings under a heading – modeled after no less than “Not My President” – that says, “Not Our Future Employees’ Alma Maters.” I mean, I know there is such a thing as wrongful termination. But as far as I know, employers can still practice discrimination in hiring practices on the basis of “educational source.”

    If I was a hiring manager, I would boycott Brandeis graduates with the ferocity of a Wahhabist jihadist boycotting pork. I might even be sneaky about it…

    • All the prestige schools have drunk the Kool-Aid, Lucky. I don’t know what the solution is. Parents who can afford to spend a quarter of a million dollars on an undergraduate degree for their kids aren’t going to send those kids to a less prestigious school for any reason on earth. Is a parent whose kid gets accepted at Brandeis really going to send the kid to BU or UMass or UConn for any reason? No. It’s a bad situation.

    • Not anytime soon, Z. The colleges and universities are the incubators of the species. It’s like asking chicken farmers when they’re going to turn off their brooders.

      • Do you think there’s a market gap? What if a lesser known school made a big campaign and said, were going to treat your kids like adults, were going to bring in speakers that make Shapiro look like a moderate, we’re going to bring in speakers that make Bernie look like a capitalist pig, and we’re going to engage in the free and unbridled exchange of ideas. Would students flock there?

        Ah, who am I kidding. These whiny kids who say they “don’t care about the first amendment” got that attitude from somewhere.

        • EO, I do think this is a great opportunity for state universities and junior colleges to make hay. Who knows, maybe the for profit schools are in fact thriving in this environment in part because of the inanity at the big name places, although the for profits can be terribly expensive, see eg, University of Phoenix.

  4. Sometime late in 1968, I was working part-time at The Colorado College (with a rep slowly, forcibly being altered from “frat ‘n ski school” to “liberal arts”) when I collated information I had from reading extensively and having black friends — grown ups all — and prepared a multiple choice questionnaire on black history (or Black History, as it wasn’t yet designated). The quiz was published in the school newspaper, answers and commentary on a separate page. Of course, it wasn’t meant for the black students; I assumed they already had the info, had at least read “Before the Mayflower,” flawed and gapped as it was, and I was hoping for a word or two of critical feedback. There was no such course as Black Studies (nor Women’s nor Gays’, for that matter) then.

    What happened, apparently, is that the white students who found the quiz of interest went to the black students for discussion or to fill in the blanks, and the black population went ballistic. The black backlash was thorough, and rough on me, including feces in my mailbox and three death threats. How DARE I !! When it looked like escalating to violence, (I hadn’t reported the death threats) the Dean told me they were going to call the police in. Note: at no time did the school administration suggest that I quit or that they would fire me, but my cynical self now thinks that was not fairness, stubbornness or bravado: they simply knew the vast majority of students, white and predominantly male, neither knew nor cared what the fuss was about. Nor did the Admin wish to divest themselves of students whose families could afford the (fairly) high tuition.

    On hearing about the possibility of police intervention, one of my black friends — a very tall, very black (deep purple, I thought), pacifist of a man with that rich choir-solo vibrato of a voice — generally reserved for telling his kids stories his neighbors said they could hear … and loved hearing — stepped up to the plate immediately, went to the Dean and said he could guarantee to manage the situation if he could speak with all the black students as a group, privately. The Dean arranged that all would attend (I think the threat of police was paramount), following which I began receiving apologies – mostly 2s and 3s on Jack’s scale, and the nasty stuff stopped stopping up my mailbox (though I swear the smell never quite went away).

    It took another year before I found out what had been said from a graduating senior who approached me with a smile, and a tweaked and corrected version of my quiz which she had spread around her family and church. The student group, it seems, was faced with a very stern and powerful seeming fellow who proceeded to “come out” to them as a member — a leading member, they were sure — of the Black Panther Party. This scary revolutionary lectured them on the importance of learning their history from “what,who,where, when, why-ever it came to be. And they would know the truth when they heard it!” He then explained that this honkey who gave them all this information was actually a root-black person (he had made up this phrase, “Roots” the tv extravaganza, wasn’t going to show up for another eight years) who had the disadvantage of having white ancestry (for shame! moaned the congregation) and therefore should be more respected. The student added that she had since come to realize they were conned (the “root-black” sounded too like “boot-black” to be acceptable — she was a lang/ling (linguistics) major– and she had also figured out that much of her and the other black students’ outrage had come from not knowing the answers. It was not ethical — she used That Word, which proves she was ready to graduate — but she couldn’t think of anything else that would have worked. Neither can I; police intervention at that time would have been fatal for all their educations as well as solidifying anti-police feeling which had softened considerably during their relatively isolated college years.

    Well, the “root-black” part was a lie, yes, but I found out, just before I left the country to go “feed koi” that my friend had indeed been a closeted Panther, the reason being that his wife had a solid civil service job on one of Colorado Springs’ many military installations where her husband’s political connection would have meant instant dismissal and no chance for other decent employment in that military-run town. Again, an ethical conundrum. Oh, there were a few…

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