1. Let’s start with some non-traditional casting hypocrisy.
- Example A: In “The Gentleman Caller,” an Off-Broadway drama by Phillip Dawkins, an imagined romantic interlude between famously gay Fifties playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge has been cast with a Hispanic, and Hispanic-looking, actor as the very un-Hispanic Williams, and an Asian-American actor as the quite Caucasian Inge. This is self-indulgent grandstanding by the director that doesn’t serve the play—that’s the director’s duty, to serve the play—and the playwright was a fool to allow it. If the drama was just about two gay playwrights, it wouldn’t matter who was cast to portray them, or what the actors looked like. The identity of the writers is important to this drama, however. You don’t cast a short, bald man as Abraham Lincoln, and you don’t cast a fat, flat-chested woman as Marilyn Monroe unless you are actively trying to sabotage the play. The New York Times critic didn’t have the integrity to point out the reverse-whitewashing casting-–mustn’t criticize fellow social justice warriors, you know!—but the stunt is both incompetent and discriminatory.
If a director cast an Irish-American and an Italian-American as James Baldwin and Richard Wright in a similar play, he would be excoriated, and rightly so.
- Example B. Jim Parsons, best known as aging nerd Sheldon in “Big Bang Theory” and now starring on Broadway in the ensemble revival of “The Boys in the Band,” told the New York Times in an interview that the producer insisted that everyone in the cast be gay. Nice. Gay actors have been insisting forever that their sexuality was no bar to their playing straight characters—this is true, if they are any good as actors—but apparently reverse discrimination is fine. It’s not fine. It’s bigotry.
When my late, lamented theater company revived that play almost 20 years ago, the director, John Moran, himself gay, insisted that the sexual orientation of the actors who auditioned would play no part in his casting decisions, and it did not. I think most of the all-male cast was not gay, but all of them were (and are) excellent.
One of my favorite Clarence Darrow quotes is, “I’m for the underdog. He needs friends a damn sight more than the other fellow. The best fun in life is to fight for the underdog…If the underdog got on top he would probably be just as rotten as the upper dog, but in the meantime I am for him.”
Things that don’t mix: Anti-discrimination rhetoric and discrimination
2. Another “good illegal immigrant” story. Guatemalan woman Gomez Gonzalez was shot to death in a border incident as she tried to enter the U.S. illegally. The episode is under investigation, and the facts are murky: the border patrol claims that she was in a crowd of people trying to cross the border illegally that became threatening and violent. Here is how CNN begins its account of the controversy:
“Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez traveled 1,500 miles to the United States, hoping to find a job and a better future. Shortly after she set foot in Texas, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed her.”
No bias there! It is absolutely irrelevant to the legal and ethical issues here why Gonzalez was entering the country illegally. She did not deserve to be shot under any circumstances, and she was no more justified in violating our immigration laws whether her objective was to find a “better future” or to open a meth lab. The news media insists on sentimentalizing what is a black and white issue of sovereignty, law-breaking and enforcement, with the intent of confusing the public and demonizing opponents of illegal immigration.
Things that don’t mix: Lawbreaking and status as a virtuous martyr
3. Did you hear the one about the Truther pitcher? This is weird as it gets.Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer appeared to carve “BD 911” into the pitching mound during a game, which many read as a short-hand way of asserting that “Bush Did” the 9-11 bombings. Bauer was shocked—shocked! that anyone would think such a thing, and responded angrily on Twitter:
Checked Twitter to see a bunch of people making ridiculous accusations.
1) I wrote BD 91.1 on the mound. It’s a personal thing of importance to me.2) it’s completely unrelated to the senseless tragedy we endured on September 11 and it pisses me off that anyone would think that.3) Shame on anyone who says otherwise. Unfounded accusations like these are very hurtful and completely uncalled for.
Completely uncalled for? How often do pitchers write crypic messages on the pitching mound? I’ve been watching games for decades, and I’ve never seen it before. If you do something strange and without explanation, it is reasonable to expect that observers will speculate on your intent.
Later, Bauer said that what he really carved was “BD 91.1,” not “BD 911.” Oh. Did he go on to explain what his real meaning was? Oddly, no. Did he explain why he was suddenly moved to start writing messages while he was pitching? Also no. Do you believe him? Here’s his artwork:
Things that don’t mix: Baseball and Truthers.
4. I know I sound like a broken record ( “what’s a record?”), but liberals should be as troubled by this as conservatives. Paul Caron, Dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, passed along via his blog an article by a recent Stanford Law grad in The National Review, Political Correctness at Stanford Law, by Martin J. Salvucci (J.D. 2018, Stanford). An excerpt:
At Stanford Law School, no more than three of approximately 110 full-time faculty publicly identify as conservative or libertarian. (By way of contrast, Stanford Law School touts on its webpage 23 full-time faculty under the inartful rubric of “minority.”) As a consequence, many of my classmates will graduate having never engaged with a law professor whose worldview and convictions track those of nearly half the voting public.
It would require nothing less than willful blindness to presume this state of play does not affect the education that students receive. Probably for obvious reasons, my classmates demonstrate little willingness to identify publicly with anything associated with conservatism or, God forbid, President Trump, no matter how trivial. By way of extraordinary example, the Law School Republicans will soon cease to exist as a student organization because — after a campaign of intimidation and opprobrium — not one underclassman would volunteer to serve on its board next academic year.
An almost unspoken agreement seems to exist among many students that all of us will soon be fabulously successful, so long as everyone remains a “team player” and nobody rocks the boat too earnestly. Political, moral, and religious convictions are, for the most part, accessories best deployed for instrumental purposes, rather than values to be espoused or explored for their own sake. In much the same manner that all respectable people may speak or dress or eat a certain way, students at Stanford Law School have come to believe — and not entirely without reason, given their surroundings — that all respectable people should think the same way. …
For the past two years, I have repeatedly beseeched the dean of Stanford Law School to follow the example set by the leaders of my undergraduate alma mater — the University of Chicago — and publicly affirm the centrality of viewpoint diversity to the aims of education. Each time, she has refused, citing squeamishness at the prospect of overstepping her portfolio. Yet during that same period, she has nonetheless offered schoolwide commentary on public topics as diverse as the violence in Charlottesville, the rescission of DACA, and the Trump administration’s efforts to ban transgender individuals from military service.
Beyond the Office of the Dean, Stanford Law School has staged programs aimed at helping students to #resist more effectively, celebrating International Workers’ Day and offering advice on “progressive lawyering” in the Trump era. Professors have sent schoolwide emails condemning anyone who supported President Trump as either an outright racist or an enabler who is #complicit. One professor even saw fit to join a student/alumni Facebook group for the purposes of criticizing the Law School Republicans. …
Stanford Law School is organized, at least theoretically, as a professional school. And students gamely pay nearly $100,000 per year for the promise that they’ll receive an education that ensures their place within the ranks of America’s finest advocates. Of course, they actually receive something closer to three years of self-affirmation, navel-gazing, and a variety of more or less amusing games played by consenting intellectual adults. Genuine advocacy, by contrast, requires resolution of conflicts through adversarial engagement with mutually exclusive perspectives….
What is a fair description of the American who views what Salvucci describes as a positive development for the country and the culture?
Things that don’t mix: Legal training and enforced ideological conformity.