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.