Coming to a place of honor and reflection near you.
On Saturday, the U.S. Park Police forcefully arrested five “Code Pink” protesters under the dome of the Jefferson Memorial for defying a recent Federal Appeals Court ruling that dancing at federal monuments was not constitutionally protected expression.
Perhaps you missed that ruling earlier this month, which was, I presume, made necessary by the realization that a flash mob could break out at any moment at the Lincoln Memorial or the Alamo. That was not the threat in 2008, however, when Mary Oberwetter was arrested, also at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, for hoofing to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.
She sued the National Park Service for violating her First Amendment rights, and on May 17 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the Jefferson Memorial should have a “solemn atmosphere” and that dancing, silent or otherwise, was an inappropriate form of expression there. The appellate judges concurred with the lower court that the memorial is “not a public forum,” and thus demonstrators must first obtain a permit. Demonstrations that require permits in the Park Service’s National Capital region are defined as
“…picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct which involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which has the effect, intent or propensity to draw a crowd or onlookers. [The] term does not include casual park use by visitors or tourists which does not have an intent or propensity to attract a crowd or onlookers.”
The Appellate Court wrote: Continue reading
“Columbinus” is a tough play by Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli that combines interviews and news footage about the Columbine shootings with dramatic and cinematic techniques to explore the human and cultural issues raised by the tragedy. It is not “Grease,” by any means, and though many high schools have produced it successfully, I would not quarrel with the decision by any school official who decided that the show was inappropriate for high school drama and that it would better to do, say, “The Mikado.”
But Lexington High School principal Natalie Cohen managed to make this decision in the worst way imaginable, for the worst reasons imaginable, showing rank ignorance of the purpose of theater while being irresponsibly dismissive of the efforts and creative energies of her students. Continue reading
The watchdog group Parents Television Council is condemning the Gentleman’s Quarterly’s buzz-generating photo spread of actresses from “Glee”adopting sexually provocative poses more or less in character. Since their characters on the show are teenagers–minors—the Council equates the feature to pornography and pedophilia. “It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on Glee in this way. It borders on pedophilia,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
He’s right, of course. Continue reading
The British show that launched “American Idol,” X-Factor, admitted that it had used Auto-Tune, an audio processor that corrects a singer’s pitch and tone. An 18-year-old contestant named Gamu Nhengu sang just a little too well in the show’s seventh season premiere, and fans and critics started hinting at conspiracy on the web, especially via the show’s Facebook page. Finally, a spokesman for “X-Factor” confessed that Auto-Tune was used to fix disruptions caused by the many microphones used on stage during the telecast, but that the judge’s decisions were definitely based on the actual, non-Auto-Tuned performances of contestants. The show’s producers, he assured the public, only used the processor to “deliver the most entertaining experience possible for viewers.”
I’m sure that is true. This is exactly the reason TV executives rigged the quiz shows in the 1950’s. It is the reason why TV reality shows are scripted, and why NBA stars get away with game fouls that referees call against lesser players. Any competition’s entertainment value is enhanced by better competitors and more suspenseful action. The problem is that once spectators know or suspect that they are being manipulated, they stop watching at all. The fact that Simon Cowell’s UK hit would use the device immediately roused “American Idol” conspiracy theorists, and Cowell to immediately announced an Auto-Tune ban. Continue reading
Now that I know I’m not the only one to be a bit troubled by the gleefully unethical practices of the absurdly talented high school students in the performance choir chronicled in the Fox TV series “Glee,” I will conquer my fear of rampaging “Gleeks” and say so.
In addition to the annoyance of the teens being played by 30-year-olds, their absurdly accomplished performing skills, and most of all, the speed with which they arrange, choreograph and master complex musicals numbers that a no professional performing group could equal in less than a week of twelve-hour days, there is this: the students regularly violate the copyright laws by using music, lyrics and exact copies of video choreography in their numbers.
Yes, the producers of “Glee” are really paying the artists involved; that’s not the point. The problem is that the show’s conceit contributes to an attitude among younger Americans (and a lot of old ones, like “The Ethicist,” Randy Cohen) that stealing intellectual property from artists is OK, everybody does it, and it is standard procedure. This encourages an unethical and illegal practice by glamorizing it, and also misinforms viewers who may not know that what the “Glee” kids do could involve big fines and serious legal problems in the real world. Continue reading