Brandon Victor Dixon’s comments, on behalf of the “Hamilton” cast, to Vice-President Election Mike Pence on Saturday night created a potential public safety issue to those in the theater. While I maintain that the public lecturing of the Vice-President was disrespectful and that Dixon’s premise was flawed (I think the Trump-Pence Administration will be a champion of diversity and benefit all people), I believe that the potential public safety issue created by Dixon’s remarks must be addressed before copycat protests occur.
Protesters have a right to voice their opinions, and America is a richer nation because diverse views are aired. At the same time, however, protesters must be mindful that their actions can affect the safety of those around them. The danger to the audience is described below along with suggestions for how Dixon and the “Hamilton” cast could have voiced their concerns in a safer manner.
Several scenarios could have occurred on Saturday which could have caused harm to those in the audience. First, a member of the crowd may have started booing or heckling Dixon which, in turn, could have caused another patron to respond, maybe with pushing or punching. A large fight could have broken out resulting in harm to participants and bystanders. Second, a viewer could have thrown a cell phone or other object at Dixon. It may have hit Dixon, another actor, or an audience member. Third, a spectator may have rushed the stage. In each of these instances, panic could erupt in the theater with individuals rushing to the exits. The Vice-President Elect would likely be safe because of his Secret Service detail. The rest of the audience, however, would probably not be that lucky. People could be trampled, especially the young and elderly.
Dixon and the “Hamilton” cast could have used other avenues to voice their beliefs. First, they could have sent a private message to Vice-President Elect Pence that they would like to meet him after the musical. Indeed, the cast met with Hillary Clinton after a performance. Second, they could have issued a press release or spoken with reporters after the musical and stated their hopes for a Trump Administration. Third, they could have produced a short video with their thoughts. They could have started with a minute of singing and then gone into their speech to President-Elect Trump and Vice-President Elect Pence. This video probably would achieved viral status. If the cast of Hamilton wants to have more power as individuals, they should vote.
The airing of different points of view will help America address the great challenges, both domestic and foreign, that it faces. Protesters must, however, be mindful of the safety of those in the environments in which they speak. By using different avenues for their protests, they will distribute their message to the public and not place the lives and limbs of bystanders into jeopardy.
Michael B. Abramson is an Advisor with the National Diversity Coalition for Trump and the state chair of Georgia for Jews Choose Trump (www.jewschoosetrump.org). He is an attorney in Atlanta and managing partner of the Abramson Law Firm. He is the author of A Playbook for Taking Back America: Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Election. His articles can be found at http://www.michaelbabramson.com./ Follow him on Twitter: @mbabramson.