Spring Break Pop Quiz--Alexander Hamilton and Tim Cook
Okay, it’s Spring Break for the college kids, but we grownups are in the midst of a serious test period. This is a two part quiz: Grades are pass/fail.
How do you respond to the following hypotheticals?
1.You have waited three months and you finally scored two orchestra seats to Hamilton.The producers donated a batch of tix to local churches and you earned yours by waiting in line from 4 a.m to noon. So you paid $50 for a babysitter, and train and cab fares came to another $62.50. The curtain goes up and you are enjoying the show immensely when, in the middle of the first act, eight people seated in front of you stand, unfold cardboard signs that had been hidden in their jackets, and chant slogans proclaiming that Hamilton was a tool of George III, the Federalists were Fascists, and the real hero of the American Revolution was slave owner Republican, Thomas Jefferson.
The rest of the audience is enraged. Screaming, threats of violence ensue. A few minutes later, the stage manager comes out and reports the performance is cancelled. In the ensuing departure melee, you bruise your shoulder and break the heel on your new Manolos.
The press later reports that the interruption of the show was part of a planned effort by three Jeffersonian organizations acting in concert. The organizations assert their conduct was protected by the First Amendment, and they refuse to promise to refrain from disrupting future performances of the show unless the Hamilton producers agree to change the script by removing all praise for Hamiltonian programs.
Which of the following options do you pursue:
A. You do nothing, because you reluctantly agree the people who disrupted the performance were legally exercising their First Amendment rights.
B. You institute a Small Claims Court claim against the disrupters and the Jeffersonian organizations that planned the demonstration. You seek money damages, arguing the disruption was not protected speech.
C. A class action is commenced on behalf of all the theatre goers who were pissed at the disruption, seeking the same relief. You opt in.
D. You write your local District Attorney and ask him or her to investigate whether the concerted action to disrupt the performance advocated or threatened imminent lawless action, i.e, was this the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theatre.
E. You write to the New York Times, MSNBC, FOX NEWS, AND CNN, expressing your disappointment the media gave insufficient or no consideration to the proposition that what the demonstrators did was CONTRARY to First Amendment values, and their conduct created a dangerous situation. You do this despite your recognition this is surely a waste of your time.
If you chose A, please go sit in the corner and read the First Amendment. This is something few people in the media have actually done, though lots of them bloviate on the subject as if they knew WTF they were talking about. Please focus on the language "Congress shall make no law" and think about how that sentence supports your view that the demonstrators had the right to disrupt a theatrical performance.
Then go to the New York Times and look for this Letter to the Editor:
"To the Editor:
Watching Fox, MSNBC, and CNN report and comment on the cancelled Trump rally, I heard a lot of talk about protesters' First Amendment rights, and no talk about Trump's First Amendment rights. I think Donald Trump's political views are an anathema and his past language respecting individual protesters at his rallies was despicable and encouraged violence. And perhaps this venue was a poor choice. But in stressing the protesters' First Amendment rights, the talking heads universally missed the point: the Amendment does not allow anybody to say anything at any time in any place. It is not absolute, and lots of speech is restricted, e.g, threats, incitement, child pornography, conspiracy, some libels, etc. That speech is not constitutionally protected because it is deemed to have no ''value" to the full and free exchange of ideas, which is what the First Amendment is all about. Trump, Cruz, Clinton, Sanders, et al, are entitled to inform the public of their views, criticize each other, criticize the government, and try to persuade people to vote for them. Conduct, whether "speech" or otherwise, designed to frustrate those rights offends constitutional goals. While previously, there were individuals who interrupted Trump's rallies and were removed from the hall, in this instance, reports suggest several organizations planned (conspired?) to act together and encourage their members to disrupt the rally and prevent Trump from expressing his views. That conduct is directly contrary to First Amendment values. It would be interesting to see the talking heads' reactions if Trump or Cruz sent in a thousand adherents to disrupt a Clinton or Sanders rally. I suspect the television conversation would focus on Hitler and Mussolini, not the First Amendment. Fair enough.”
What? You couldn’t find my letter? Hmm, maybe they forgot to print it? Or didn’t print it because they don’t like what it says? Nah, not my NYT!