Backing Trump, Shakespeare and free speech (at the same time)
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As Brutus from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar said, perhaps ironically, “There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.”

Only a fool would fail to see the decaying political discourse in America and the sharp partisan divides. These divides in America have become so overt and tense that the arts have become outlets to express partisan anger in an ever-increasingly distasteful manner.

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Since the inauguration of President Trump, Madonna spoke of blowing up the White House, Snoop Dogg assassinated a clown resembling Trump in a music video, and Kathy Griffin held up a severed head that resembled President Trump in a photograph, all under the auspices of the “resistance.” Last week, the Republican baseball team was nearly massacred by a man who clearly had targeted them for their political views. The escalation of both rhetoric and violence should be alarming to any rational citizen.

 

Over the past weekend, supporters of Trump aimed to directly combat Shakespeare in the Park in New York City, in which Julius Caesar, dressed to resemble Trump, is assassinated on stage. Their tactic? Rushing the stage and interrupting the performance while yelling things such as “stop leftist violence!” and, “Goebbels would be proud!”

Their actions did not calm and tone down the rhetoric: they only furthered it. Ironically enough, these same people belong to a base that was vocal and united against campus protesters who employed the same tactics to shut down and harass conservative speakers.

It’s worth mentioning that the very same production did the same thing to an actor resembling President Obama, and no public outcry took place. The directors of the play used the modern context of the presidency to illustrate the play’s point, although continuing to do so in the wake of last week’s violence was distasteful and unnecessary.

Laura Loomer, the woman who first rushed the stage, claimed on Fox News: “I am protecting the president’s life. I am protecting our Constitution. I am using my constitutional right of free speech and protest to protest against the bastardization of Shakespeare.” 

These claims are as ridiculous as they are false. The Secret Service protects the president’s life, not stage-rushing playgoers. Shakespeare in the Park is a free event, albeit one that requires tickets from its attendees. As a closed event, any interruption cannot be described as an exercise of free speech, but instead an act that infringes on the rights of those who are attending the event.  

The producers of the play had already come under immense pressure and were already losing sponsors. By rushing the stage, the narrative switched from the disturbing act of the play, to silly protesters shouting down the play itself in the name of “free speech.”

Perhaps these protesters should have better studied Julius Caesar. The play portrays the assassination of the historic Roman leader, but focuses on the infighting and strife that ensues among the assassins. The play’s tragedy is not Caesar himself, but rather the friendships, and eventually the lives, of those who wished to seize power. It is itself a condemnation of political violence.

In the aftermath of what was obviously a publicity stunt, Loomer used her airtime on Fox News to bash the “never-Trumpers” who she claimed are “unhappy with President Trump being our president.

“They haven’t accepted it and the only way that they would be resolved is if he was eradicated or taken out,” she said.

I voted for Trump. Supporting our president and supporting free speech are not mutually exclusive. Americans who chose to not vote for Trump have the same rights to free speech as those who voted for him. The “get in line or else” mentality on display is the very sort of behavior that fuels the hyperpartisan rhetoric originally at fault.

“Fight fire with fire” is the mantra these demonstrators have used to defend their actions.

This sort of logic (if you can call it that) is only furthering the downward spiral of political discourse. After the many times the right has claimed to be the champions of free speech, this sort of behavior is unbelievably hypocritical.

Discourse in America, on both sides, is seriously flawed. Taking away others’ free speech is not the solution. You can fight back with outrage and strength while upholding decency and respecting the rights of others.

Kassy Dillon is the founder of Lone Conservative blog and has appeared on Fox News discussing issues surrounding free speech and cultural issues on college campuses. @KassyDillon


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