I received a survey request from the Dramatists Guild. They provided a text field where I could express any further opinions, so I did. I recently read an article by Douglas Wilson, and was inspired by his visual of the waving "No Hate" signs:
Terrence McNally's idealistic "we're all in this together" quote (#6) a couple of issues ago no longer rings true. There is thick irony everywhere. We could write plays about it if there was still such a thing as free speech.
If the theatrical community ever was a common ground where calm disagreement and reasonable discussion were possible, I fear it has instead become a stretch of scorched, salted earth full of ideological land mines.
If we took an honest look at the true history of the -isms and -ologies we force into our writings and conversations, we may find out things we wish we hadn't. We would find powerful people squelching creativity and free thought. We would find camps encircled with barbed wire and mass graves full of the corpses of authors, composers, and performers.
This community that I love has embraced the very values that will destroy it, and is actively silencing any voices that ring in opposition. In the name of tolerance and inclusivity, we have become intolerant and exclusive. In an ironic twist, we wave "No Hate" signs while suppressing, vilifying, and silencing (often with dehumanizing insults, pointed blasphemy, and profanity) anyone who disagrees, or simply suggests there may be more than one viewpoint. We are widening the gap between people with opposing ideas rather than bringing them together for intelligent debate and discussion. Emotion trumps evidence. We are fighting discrimination with other forms of discrimination. Cancellation is the way to deal with criticism. Beliefs are not answerable to reason, and excellence is sacrificed on the altar of mere diversity.
I read the DG submission list with a red pen in hand every month, discouraged by the huge number of opportunities one is simply not eligible to submit to because of gender, skin color, sexual orientation, politics, or nationality. We no longer judge by the content of character as Dr. King dreamed.
The interviews hosted and opinions expressed online and in publications like The Dramatist have become a disturbing amalgam of shared rhetoric, and any challenge put to the assumptions behind the accepted narrative is answered with disdain and slander. The voice of “reason” today is a scream that drowns everyone else out, encouraged and reinforced by our elected officials and their mouthpieces: the press, big tech, and social media.
I re-watched the Oliver Stone movie JFK this past week. Kevin Costner's courtroom speech at the end was particularly stirring, so I have adapted it to apply to the year 2020:
...The Official Legend is created and the media takes it from there. The glitter of official lies and the epic splendor of the thought-numbing unscientific regulations and economy-crippling lockdowns confuse the eye and confound the understanding. Hitler always said, "The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it." We are all being turned into a crazed, lonely, long line of patsies. The ghost of freedom forces on us the appalling questions: Of what is our Constitution made? What is our citizenship, and more, our lives worth? What is the future of a democracy where our basic freedoms are violently removed under conspicuously suspicious circumstances while the machinery of legal action scarcely trembles? How many more tyrranical regulations, disguised as compassionate science, will assault us before they are exposed for what they are?
“Treason doth never prosper,” wrote an English poet, “What's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.” There are hundreds of documented facts that could help prove this conspiracy. Why are they being withheld or burned by media conglomerates, corporations, and the government? Each time my office or you the people have demanded crucial evidence, the answer from on high has always been “national security.” What kind of national security do we have when we've been robbed of our freedom? What national security permits the removal of fundamental power from the hands of the American people and validates the ascendancy of an invisible government in the United States? That kind of national security, gentlemen of the jury, is when it smells like it, feels like it, and looks like it, you call it what it is: Fascism!
I submit to you that what took place in 2020 was a coup d'etat. Its most direct and tragic result was a destruction of individual liberty. The virus has become the biggest business in America, worth billions. Truth has been murdered by a conspiracy that was planned in advance at the highest levels of our government and it was carried out by fanatical and disciplined cold warriors. It was a public execution, and it was covered up by like-minded individuals in Congress, Big Pharma, and the White House - all the way up to and including big box retailers, social networks, and search engine companies, whom I consider accomplices after the fact.
The coup d’etat reduced the American people to a mob of servile bootlickers. Our job, our assignment is to submit as often as possible to this government’s whims and desires. Now some people say I'm crazy, a southern caricature seeking higher office. Well, there is a simple way to determine if I am paranoid. Let's ask the men and women who are profiting the most from our misery to release all of the statistics pertaining to the pandemic, not just the ones that support the narrative. All these statistics are yours - the people's property - you pay for it, but because the government considers you children who might be too disturbed or distressed to face this reality, or because you might possibly lynch those involved, you cannot see these statistics. I'm already telling my 8 year-old son to keep himself physically fit so that one glorious September morning in the next century, he can walk into the National Archives and find out what the government knew. They may even push it back then. Hell, it may become a generational affair, with questions passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. But someday, somewhere, someone may find out the damned Truth. We better. We better, or we might just as well build ourselves another government like the Declaration of Independence says to when the old one ain't working - just - just a little farther out West.
An American naturalist wrote, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government.” I'd hate to be in your shoes today. You have a lot to think about. You've seen much hidden evidence the American public has never seen. You know, going back to when we were children, I think that most of us in this courtroom thought that justice came into being automatically, that virtue was its own reward, that good would triumph over evil. But as we get older we know that this just isn't true. Individual human beings have to create justice and this is not easy, because the truth often poses a threat to power and one often has to fight power at great risk to themselves. I have here some $8,000 in these letters sent to my office from all over the country - quarters, dimes, dollar bills from housewives, plumbers, car salesmen, teachers, invalids. These are people who cannot afford to send money but do. These are the ones who drive the cabs, who nurse in the hospitals, who see their kids go to war. Why? Because they care, because they want to know the truth, because they want their country back, because it still belongs to us, as long as the people have the guts to fight for what they believe in! The truth is the most important value we have because if the truth does not endure, if the government murders truth, if we cannot respect the hearts of these people, then this is not the country in which I was born and this is certainly not the country I want to die in.
2020 was probably one of the most terrible years in the history of our country. We, the people, the jury system sitting in judgment on our leaders, represent the hope of humanity against government power. In discharging your duty, in bringing the first conviction in this house of cards, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Show this world that this is still a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Nothing as long as you live will ever be more important.
It's up to you.