Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Not Hate Speech, Free Speech



I wish I did not have to come into work every day and write another post about DT. At a certain point I want to go back to YouTube and babies belly laughing and cats playing pianos. Really. I do not want to start my week talking about politics. If only it were politics.

So let me begin by saying I went to a concert over the weekend at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I almost wrote Old School. Well, it is. Today’s folk music seems to draw inspiration from the 60s, and their audience. The singer between songs spoke in a sing-songy voice that reminded me of Garrison Keillor aka Prairie Home Companion. The atmosphere was peace, love, and No More Nukes. Sort of a throw-back.

I felt right at home.

You see since this election there have been few safe places. Not social media, not the news, not my extended family. Thankfully, I live in a place where I get a lot of support. Don’t get me wrong—I could unfriend a lot of people and write my family off, but I sincerely like them and most always enjoy a diversity of opinions. I don’t want to live inside a bubble. Yet there are times, like this weekend, where I just needed to feel like people got me. Where I could settle back and not have to wait for the next shoe to drop. I think everyone was feeling the same.

The singer, Carrie Newcomer got our pain, and sang to the heart of it. She also said a bunch of encouraging stuff like don’t give up. We can do this, together. She had us sing along to “Lean In toward the Light.” She featured many songs off her new album,The Beautiful Not Yet. In particular I loved “You Can Do This Hard Thing.” It’s what I tell myself a lot when the going gets tough, when I think I just can’t take one more thing, one more burden. Just this hill, then the next, and likely one more after that. I can do this hard thing. Also the cut, “Sanctuary” speaks to the refuge in the midst of the storm.

And there was a shit storm unleashed this past weekend. Probably while I was at the concert. Mike Pence went to see Hamilton where the cast, at curtain call, as they are wont to do, as sometimes happens (see Cubs Win!) delivered a special message to the VP-elect. It was not hate speech, nor not actually a rebuff, more like a reminder. Which seems especially apropos since the show revolves around government, the Constitution, etc. How things work—or don’t, the hardships and trials of leading and governing. The theater is about communication—and if we don’t like the message then don’t buy a ticket. Actually you can’t anyway because the thing is sold out until 2020 or whenever the Cubs win the World Series (again).

If someone had come into the Carrie Newcomer concert and said I don’t like what you’re singing or bantering about between songs: Apologize! A lot of us peaceniks might've started throwing chairs.

DT tweeted that the theater needs to be a safe place—this brings up a lot of questions (and anxiety for me)—safe for whom? I love that Saturday night I had a Sanctuary, a place where I could go and feel welcomed. I hope the arts can remain a place of refuge. We will see.

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