"I'll turn on cable news. There's lots of outlets you can go to get politics even the issues and ideas that you disagree with. A play for the vice president-elect of the United States who was there with his family to get booed tells you how far gone civility is in America.... This is the vice president-elect of the United States. They should want him to be successful. They should want his family to feel welcome in anywhere they go in the United States like everybody should want to feel welcomed anywhere in the United States. And it starts with a small thing like not booing the vice president-elect of the United States and not having a cast come out and lecture somebody who probably paid 800 bucks to be there.... I hope they give him his money back."
Said former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers on "State of the Union" yesterday.
I didn't think Pence should have been singled out and lectured to from the stage when the audience — which had booed him earlier — seemed so hostile. His physical safety was in issue, and that introduced an element of intimidation and bullying that the people behind the show probably didn't intend but should have been more sensitive about. The people in the audience who booed were creepy and cowardly — in their safe space and (probably) believing themselves to be the good people.
But Mike Rogers sounds like a fool talking about the theater as a place that owes you politics-free entertainment — where you pay your money and they owe you a pleasant, happy, relaxing time. Whose theory of theater is that? Rogers calls himself "old fashioned" as if he's relying on a traditional view of the role of theater in human culture, but where the hell did he get that?
Even shows aimed at children raise unsettling matters that question and challenge the audience about things that can be political. I'm not going to go down the rathole of the politics of "The Lion King." And you can, on your own time, read this New Yorker article, "The Politics of 'Annie.'" ("[Annie] wanders into a Hooverville—a shantytown whose jobless denizens (proto-Occupiers?) sing a sarcastic ode to the outgoing President....")
But "Hamilton" is a musical that is on its face about politics. How in hell could it be a night of lightweight, relaxing amusement? That wouldn't be good. You have to be lying or a fool to assert that you paid for tickets to "Hamilton" and felt entitled to a politics-free experience.
And Rogers slotted in an appeal to "civility." You know what I always say: Appeals to civility are always bullshit. Rogers himself is doing politics, and if the politics cut the other way he'd be praising free speech and parsing the language of the from-the-stage lecture for respectful intelligence.
(For what it's worth: Mike Rogers was kicked off the Trump transition team last week.)