I've been following this story of a Texas college's production of Corpus Christi, a play where Jesus is portrayed as gay, even though I haven't posted about it here on Bilerico, mainly because I didn't think that the school wouldn't go through with it. But apparently the threats just got to be too much:
Though the university administration said it would not bar the production, citing academic freedom, drama professor Mark Holtorf canceled all four productions late Friday. He cited "safety and security concerns for the students, as well as the need to maintain an orderly academic environment."
"We received so many threatening calls and e-mails today across campus, the numbers were just staggering," Holtorf said Friday night. "One administrator received in excess of 800 e-mails.
"Our department received calls of a threatening nature," he said. "I could not guarantee the security of my students. The administration was truly behind the academic exercise, but I could not justify the risk."
Officials announced Wednesday that the Corpus Christi performance would be moved from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday and staged before a restricted private audience. Campus police planned additional security.
I haven't seen the messages they received since there, so I'm not judging the drama prof for shutting down the play. But if these folks think that these terrorists - and if they're using threats of violence to get other people to stop exercising their freedoms, then that's what they are - going to be appeased, then they've got another thing coming.
These are people who are sending threatening messages over a play they haven't even seen, for crying out loud. The Catholic League (aka a dude in his basement with his cats who has no power in the actual Catholic Church) told them that the play was evil, so they must destroy it.
After all that we heard last year about gays being violent and shutting down poor, oppressed Christians who are just trying to exercise their free speech in the Prop 8 battle, it's obvious, once again, which side is actually willing to use violence to prove their point. Too bad we'll probably be the ones chided by mainstream media because we decided where we wanted to eat dinner ourselves.
I feel like I should be handing out copies of Inherit the Wind on the street corner. At some point there's the realization that it's a play, and if they don't want to see it they don't have to, but others should still be allowed to produce art that's meaningful to them. That's part of living in a free society, and while it means that sometimes art will be produced that we don't like, we deal with it and move on.
Corpus Christi, written by Terrence McNally, is set in the playwright's Texas hometown in the 1950s and 1960s. It features a character named Joshua who heals the sick, feeds the hungry and provides spiritual guidance before being crucified. Joshua also marries apostles James and Bartholomew.
By producing the play, Otte said, he hoped to convey the turmoil that gay Christians sometimes experience. Otte, who is gay, left the Mormon church because of its stance condemning homosexuality.
I'm not a gay Christian by any stretch of the imagination but I can see the value in that.
But it's not even that important if I can see the value in a work of art. In fact, the very idea that most people won't see any value in this play is probably a good reason it needs to be protected: big productions don't really need much help to do what they're already doing. Small, independent, and academic operations, though, which often provide art that others just can't understand, is often funded mostly through the good will of people willing to participate and therefore doesn't have the resources to deal with angry mobs.
This isn't a way to win friends, but they're not really interested in that. And they don't want to be acquiesced to, either. Authoritarians want conversion to their beliefs, but they don't believe in using persuasion. Instead, they use violence and threats to teach people to stop thinking for themselves and start listening to Bill Donohue.
Even though I haven't seen the play, I'm going to guess that there's a theme in it related to this whole situation. But I'm guessing that theme would be lost on this audience. Of course, I have to guess, since it's not like they're ever going to watch it.
ABC covered the controversy before the play was canceled. Don't you love the woman who says she has "homosexual friends" right before she says she has a problem with Jesus being called gay homosexual?