Shouting “Heil Trump!” In A Crowded Theater

Anthony Derlunas, 58, a drunken idiot attending a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Baltimore, suddenly started shouting “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump!”  He told police that his display was motivated by his hatred of the President.

Is it fair to call this “Trump Derangement”? I think so. I think that’s fair.

He told an officer he “had been drinking heavily throughout the night” before his performance at the Hippodrome Theatre, which understandably unsettled the audience, many of whom apparently thought that another anti-Jewish massacre was underway like the one in the Pittsburgh synagogue last month that killed 11 people. Some people started running, other wept.  According to the police report, Derlunas explained that the final scene of the musical before intermission,  depicting a Jewish wedding celebration disrupted by a Russian pogrom, reminded him of his hatred for the President—I know I’m always reminded of Donald Trump when I see “Fiddler on the Roof”—prompting his outburst. Derlunas was surprised, he said, when people around him became angry.  You can certainly understand his confusion: all he was doing is shouting “Heil!” during a musical about Jewish history and culture. Somepeople get offended so easily.

Baltimore Police escorted Derlunas out a few minutes later, a police spokeswoman said, and the show continued.

He wasn’t charged with anything, though the theater has banned him for life. “As reprehensible as those words are, they are considered protected free speech because nobody was directly threatened,” police spokesman Matt Jablow said in an email.

That’s ridiculous. Nobody has a right to disrupt a theatrical performance, and those words, especially in the context of the recent Pittsburgh shooting in a synagogue, could have sparked a panic and a riot. That’s literally the meaning of Justice Holmes’ “shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater” opinion. The First Amendment doesn’t permit all forms of speech in all settings. Ironically, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, Dana Vickers Shelley, opined that this particular speech warranted more than a “now don’t do it again, you naughty boy” warning, which is all the drunken fool got.

“More should have been done,” Shelley said. While the speech’s content is protected under the First Amendment, she noted, he could have at least been charged with disorderly conduct for the act of disrupting the show. Now uniformed officers will be stationed at the Hippodrome for the remaining “Fiddler” performances. All that expense, all that anxiety, the threat of a panic at the performance, and Anthony Derlunas gets to go home and continue to be angry, drunk and stupid. The police did a background check and have determined that he isn’t a threat to public safety, so they aren’t monitoring him further.

Is this a great country, or what?

15 thoughts on “Shouting “Heil Trump!” In A Crowded Theater

    • Oh, $50 says some production somewhere has done that in the past couple years.

      Recently I saw a modern dress “1776” where the Loyalists finished their song (which is really about Nixon, btw) by putting on red ballcaps. It was SO biting and unexpected, man.


        I guarantee that’s a copyright infringement, and done without permission. I would have sent a formal complaint.
        “Cool, cool considerate men” is an embarrassment, and I’d cut it, like the movie did in the theater version. They still show it on TV.

        • Per the program, they did have permission from the rights holders for the modern dress and race/gender blind casting (apart from most of the leads’ genders because, ya know, vocal ranges). From a practical standpoint, this didn’t seem like a terrible idea for a production with a limited timeframe and talent pool, and I thought they did made a few interesting choices along with the cringeworthy ones (their Hancock was supposed to be Hillary Clinton for some reason? That was my reading anyway.)

          As someone right-of-center, I find “Cool, Cool Considerate Men” to be a huge guilty pleasure as a villain song. It’s also very, very reductive even in the context of the show, and doesn’t serve the characters like it should do. I’d still personally hate to lose it but agree it’s jarring.

          • 1. Shame on the rights holders.
            2. The show is about history. Screwing with history like that is inexcusable—the show takes liberties enough.
            3. No, CCCM is just bad. It includes characters who were not by any lights conservative (including Dickensen!) and the right/left trope is a screaming anachronism. It also has what may be the worst text-set lyric I’ve ever heard sung on a stage, when Hancock sings “That’s very true, I dislike him quite a lot, but still I’d rather trot, to Mr. Adams’ new gavotte…”

            gag-uck-choke pooey…

            • 2. Smart audiences should recognize the show plays loose with history to emphasize its themes, and the staging can play loose accordingly. Of course, per the story in the post, audiences aren’t that smart.

              Incidentally, this production put the cast back in period dress for the last scene/tableau. They’d clearly pulled whatever remotely plausible pieces they had in the costume room and put them on whichever actors sort-of fit. I think they had to do this to serve the final image, though they may have been trying to make some other point as well (“this actually happened in history!” Well, yeah). It looked silly and detracted from the ending.

              3. -My tolerance for musical cheese is disturbingly high. Agreed, though, CCM’s out of character for even the fictional Dickensen. I wish there was a more interesting song for him in that slot.

              -I’m sure hearing the lyrics you cited sing-talked by a Hillary-expy would have taken them to a whole new level for you.

              Side note, when I was younger, I used to lament I didn’t know any eligible conservative guys who had land, cash in hand, self-command OR futures planned.

              Sorry to make you sicker, Jack.

  1. In so far as this appears to be movie clip night and this event during a “Fiddler on the Roof” sounds like an out take from “The Producers,” I think it’s appropriate to surmise that Mel Brooks’s analysis of the Baltimore PD would run along something like the following lines:

  2. Well, of course, he isn’t a threat to anyone. He hates Trump, remember? If he’d been wearing a MAGA hat, would the incident have been handled differently?

  3. On the bright side, as least when this leftist wingnut starts his 15-minutes-of-fame (ended when he either offs himself, or is shot by police) Jewish massacre, the press can say he was ‘known to police.’

    So we got THAT going for us.

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