Theaters Are Not The Place To Air Political Grievances

Janet A. Morana Executive Director, Priests for Life
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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Congress passed the amendment on  Sept.  25, 1789 and it was ratified on December 15, 1791. Next month the United States will celebrate the amendment’s 225th anniversary but it’s much in the news already after the producer and a cast member of the wildly popular Broadway show “Hamilton” decided to lecture and bully the vice president-elect of the United States last week during a curtain call.

I’ve been enjoying Broadway plays since Mary Martin played Maria in “The Sound of Music” in 1959, but if I had tickets to “Hamilton” in my hands right now, I would rip them up and let my empty seat do the talking for me, no matter how many hundreds of dollars I spent to acquire them.

Vice President-elect Pence has said he wasn’t offended, but I was, and so were plenty of other people. I was attending a meeting in Washington on Saturday when I first heard about it and I took the stage to encourage a #BoycottHamilton movement on social media that is still going strong.

If Hamilton producer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the statement, and actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who read it, wanted to get a message to the next vice president, there were other ways of doing it. They could have stood on their soap box outside the stage door after the show, or taken to social media. The effort still would have been widely reported because the mainstream media is poised to pounce on anything that criticizes President-elect Donald Trump and his running mate. So the statement would have been heard without embarrassing Mr. Pence and his family, and making other audience members uncomfortable.

I also think it was terrible that a Trump supporter disrupted a touring company performance of “Hamilton” in Chicago the following night. Theaters are not places to air political grievances, no matter who the aggrieved party may be.

But beyond the Hamilton episode, I would like to see all the anti-Trump shenanigans come to a halt. I understand full well how disappointing an election can be. Pro-lifers and other conservatives were just as upset when pro-abortion President Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012 but you didn’t see us burning down auto sales lots or chanting “Kill the Police!” This must stop.

To all those vowing that the winner of the 2016 election is  “Not my president,” allow me, a former teacher, to give a brief civics lesson. Come Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump will, in fact, be your president. He was chosen in a free and democratic election. “But he didn’t win the popular vote!” the NeverTrumpers keep insisting. True enough, but we don’t elect presidents using the popular vote. If we did, big states like California and New York would choose every president – and if you’ve ever spent any time between the coasts, you know that those ultra-liberal states do not speak for the entire nation.

That’s why we have the Electoral College. It is not unprecedented for a president to be elected by the Electoral College while garnering fewer popular votes. It happened most recently in 2000, when George Bush had more electoral college votes than Al Gore, who garnered more popular votes. And while there is a move afoot to change the Electoral College system to get Hillary Clinton elected, it’s not going to work. So unless all these raucous protesters make good on their vows to move out of the country, Donald Trump’s swearing-in will make him their president.

Get over it. Presidents and parties don’t stay in power forever. You’ll have another chance to vote in four more years.

One more word on “Hamilton.” In his lecture to Pence, actor Dixon said, in part:

“We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”

So it was interesting to read that in a casting call, the play’s producers invited only “NON WHITE men and women”  to auditions. Since this might violate New York City’s human rights law, as well as state and federal statutes, the production was quick to send out a clarification. But still no apology to the next vice president of the United States for the way he was disrespected.