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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/theater/13thea.html?8dpc

This goes right to the heart of some recent threads about where disagreement translates into censorship of free expression. Scott Eckern, a Mormon, donated $1,000 in support of prop. 8, a donation that has been made public. Eckern is artistic director of the California Musical Theatre.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I'm generally not a fan of boycotts, especially when they essentially target one person, and I think that Eckern has become a focal point for the collective anger gay people are feeling about Prop 8. That said, I can totally understand gay people not wanting to work with a director who they feel helped assign them second-class citizen status. It's also not clear the extent to which Eckern was fired (or encouraged to resign) by the board or whether he decided it was in his best interests or the best interests of the theatre for him to resign voluntarily.

I think it's particularly interesting (and heart wrenching) that Eckern's sister felt the need to call for a boycott of the theatre.

It's pretty clear that Eckern is not a bigot in the normal sense of the word. There's no indication that he's tried to convince any of the homosexual people he's worked with to change and anyone who chooses to work in musical theatre must be OK around gay people. His statement says he intends to donate $1,000 to a gay rights group, which he presumably doesn't have to do since he's not keeping his job anyway.
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William Boykin
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So it goes.

Darilian
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Chad Ellis
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LOL. I guessed correctly that you would be the first to reply...but I have to admit, I was a bit off on the word count!
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William Boykin
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Bit premature to say "I told you so", I thought.

Darilian

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Director of Music Theater donating to an anti-gay cause is like a cattle rancher donating to PETA. WTF? laugh
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Chad Ellis
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A few questions for anyone who is interested in this:

1. Is it OK for someone to boycott the theatre based on Eckern's actions? Does it matter if the person boycotting is a customer or someone like Mark Shaiman, whose boycotting could really affect the financial status of the Theatre and thus create tangible pressure to fire Eckern?

As I said in the OP, I have very mixed feelings about this. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences for that speech. Boycotting is also protected speech, and if you say, "Fuck you" to me either directly or indirectly (e.g. voting to nullify my marriage or prevent me from marrying), you shouldn't be surprised if I choose not to associate with you or to help pay your salary by spending money at your business.

That said, a boycott aimed essentially at an individual feels wrong. He's not the owner of the theatre, or the chairman of the board -- he's just an employee. To me, that makes it inappropriate, both because his livelihood could be drastically harmed and more generally because he's getting a disproportionate share of the collective anger currently being felt.

2. Could Eckern really be that surprised by the reaction? My guess is that he never thought his contribution would become public knowledge, but he had to have known how gay people saw Prop 8.

3. What about Melissa Etheridge saying she is not a full citizen? Is that hyperbole or a fair assessment?
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Darilian wrote:
Bit premature to say "I told you so", I thought.


I still think it's premature, personally. You were talking about using hate crime legislation to have the State go after people. A possible boycott and a resignation (we don't know whether it was asked for or simply accepted by the board) is a far cry from that.
 
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1). Boycotting the theatre is extreme- as you said, this isn't the policy of the Theatre group, just the employee.

2). This is what bugs me the most. Unless he made public "Hey everyone, Look what I just did!!", Eckern shouldn't be crucified over his donation. He has the right to make a donation and keep his livelihood. I would like to know how his contribution was made public fodder.

3). Hyperbole. She'll figure that one out like Wesley Snipes did....
(NOTE- For those of you who didn't read the article, Mellissa is calling for Gays to not pay State taxes in protest. Hence, my reference to Snipes.)

Darilian
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
1. Is it OK for someone to boycott the theatre based on Eckern's actions?


The theater didn't make the donation, so I'd say "no."

Quote:
2. Could Eckern really be that surprised by the reaction? My guess is that he never thought his contribution would become public knowledge, but he had to have known how gay people saw Prop 8.


If he didn't think this would get out, he's a bit dense. Web sites are now available to make donation information public.

Quote:
3. What about Melissa Etheridge saying she is not a full citizen? Is that hyperbole or a fair assessment?


She's homosexual and can no longer marry legally, so I understand the sentiment. I'm not sure it's necessarily a fair assessment, but I expect that this "fair assessment" will only really be decided when the US Supreme Court finally rules on a case. I believe her rights are being infringed upon, personally.
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Quote:
2. Could Eckern really be that surprised by the reaction? My guess is that he never thought his contribution would become public knowledge, but he had to have known how gay people saw Prop 8.

perfalbion wrote:


If he didn't think this would get out, he's a bit dense. Web sites are now available to make donation information public.


So lets say that, living in Texas, I work at a gun store. Lets say that I donate money to a Gun Control PAC. Would it be fair for an NRA supporter to get my name off the lists, make that public and get me fired from my job at a Gun Store?

SOMEONE combed those lists to find someone to shame and make a public stink about. This is a deliberate hack job by someone who was LOOKING for someone like Eckern to 'shame' and disgrace, all the for the sake of their partisan agenda.

Darilian

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Chad_Ellis wrote:
Darilian wrote:
Bit premature to say "I told you so", I thought.


I still think it's premature, personally. You were talking about using hate crime legislation to have the State go after people. A possible boycott and a resignation (we don't know whether it was asked for or simply accepted by the board) is a far cry from that.


Hence, why I said "So it goes" rather than "I told you so".

Darilian
 
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Darilian wrote:
1). Boycotting the theatre is extreme- as you said, this isn't the policy of the Theatre group, just the employee.


Yeah, I think I'm with you on this. I can see individual artists saying, "Screw that, I'm not going to work with an artistic director who gave money to hurt me," but an organized boycott seems inappropriate.

Quote:
2). This is what bugs me the most. Unless he made public "Hey everyone, Look what I just did!!", Eckern shouldn't be crucified over his donation. He has the right to make a donation and keep his livelihood. I would like to know how his contribution was made public fodder.


The donations were all public. I'm sure he just assumed that it would be anonymous, but some folks decided to figure out who donated. The main thing, as I understand it, was that a lot of people were pissed off at how much money (and canvassing volunteers) was coming from out-of-state Mormons; I doubt it started off as an effort to create a blacklist.

Are there any political donations you would consider sufficiently heinous that the response would be justified?

Quote:
3). Hyperbole. She'll figure that one out like Wesley Snipes did....


Agreed on the tax thing, but I have some real sympathy with the sense of second-class citizenship. Marriage is such a fundamental thing in our society -- being told that you belong to a class of people who aren't allowed to marry certainly isn't first class.
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perfalbion wrote:
when the US Supreme Court finally rules on a case.


Does the Supreme Court hear cases on State constitutions? There is nothing (that I'm aware of) in the US Constitution that protects same-sex marriage rights; the ERA was defeated and there has never been a federal amendment prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thus, while the Constitutional logic of Loving v. Virginia applies to State constitutions like California and Massachusetts, I don't think it would apply federally.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
when the US Supreme Court finally rules on a case.


Does the Supreme Court hear cases on State constitutions? There is nothing (that I'm aware of) in the US Constitution that protects same-sex marriage rights; the ERA was defeated and there has never been a federal amendment prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thus, while the Constitutional logic of Loving v. Virginia applies to State constitutions like California and Massachusetts, I don't think it would apply federally.


It depends on what the Supreme Court decides. If they decide it's a state matter(like they did), then it's a state matter. If they decide it's bigger than that, then it is.
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TheLightSarcastic wrote:
1. It's okay for anyone to boycott anything, really. The marketplace is a ballot box in of itself. Why would a member of the gay community, or anyone concerned for their rights, want to contribute to the bottom line of someone who spent a fair sum of money for the specific intent of making them second-class citizens?


My problem is one of scale. What if Eckert was a janitor? Would it be appropriate for a large group of organized people to boycott a business because their janitor donated money to a cause? It's certainly legal for them to do so, but at some point it goes past "not feeding the mouth that bit you" and veers into bullying or a vendetta.

While I suspect that the search was primarily aimed at finding out how large the Mormon share of pro-8 donations were, rather than a hunt for individuals to target, Darilian raises a fair point. What if the NRA starts organizing boycotts of individuals who donate to gun control groups? It may be that the public marketplace can handle things like this (e.g. the backlash would outweigh any benefits, so they won't) but at some point the ganging up seems wrong.
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MWChapel wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
when the US Supreme Court finally rules on a case.


Does the Supreme Court hear cases on State constitutions? There is nothing (that I'm aware of) in the US Constitution that protects same-sex marriage rights; the ERA was defeated and there has never been a federal amendment prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thus, while the Constitutional logic of Loving v. Virginia applies to State constitutions like California and Massachusetts, I don't think it would apply federally.


It depends on what the Supreme Court decides. If they decide it's a state matter(like they did), then it's a state matter. If they decide it's bigger than that, then it is.


OK, but my question is whether they have ever overturned a State Supreme Court on a State Constitutional issue?

Wait a second...isn't that what happened in Florida in 2000? Maybe I've answered my own question.
 
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Darilian wrote:
SOMEONE combed those lists to find someone to shame and make a public stink about. This is a deliberate hack job by someone who was LOOKING for someone like Eckern to 'shame' and disgrace, all the for the sake of their partisan agenda.


Are you responsible for the action that you took in making the donation? Knowing that the information might be made public and hurt your career, would you still do it? Is it legal for the gun store to fire you in the first place for making the donation?

Information's available. How people use it is up to them. Knowing the field he was in, the state he was in, and the clientelle/staff/performers he worked with would you say that he acted intelligently?

Don't pin this on others - politics has been full of things like this forever. This is even pretty mild because it looks to be the truth.
 
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Ok, I get angrier every time I read this article. So I'm going to post this and then walk away for a bit.

Quote:
Marc Shaiman, the Tony Award-winning composer (“Hairspray”), called Mr. Eckern last week and said that he would not let his work be performed in the theater. “I was uncomfortable with money made off my work being used to put discrimination in the Constitution,” Mr. Shaiman said. He added, however, that the entire episode left him “deeply troubled” because of the potential for backlash against gays who protested Mr. Eckern’s donation.

“It will not help our cause because we will be branded exactly as what we were trying to fight,” said Mr. Shaiman, who is gay. “But I do believe there comes a time when you cannot sit back and accept what I think is the most dangerous form of bigotry.


Ok, first bold section...
Mr. Shaiman sells the right for his work to be put onstage. Presumably makes some money out of the play getting put on. And yet he feels that he has the RIGHT to tell Mr. Eckern what do with HIS profits? I presume that Mr. Eckern hasn't told Mr. Shaiman how to spend HIS money.

Second bold section....
And here we go back to the heart of the argument. Taking a donation by a private citizen, making it public, smearing it across the National Press, and probably making it so that Mr. Eckern won't be able to get a job in the future is completely justified to Mr. Shaiman. Why? Because Mr. Eckern's actions are 'dangerous bigotry'.

It was 'ok' to for someone to leak to the press to get information illegally about 'Joe the Plumber'; Its 'ok' to leak this about Mr. Eckern. RIGHT. One day, someone will on the Right will do this about a Left wing Cause Celebre- and you will SCREAM. It is WRONG to leak information like this solely for political motives. WHO gave this information to the NY Times?

(Edit)- I want to know why its ok to leak this about Mr. Eckern to the press, but the source of the story is NEVER given out. The press should NEVER use unnamed sources as the source of a story if the subject is just an ordinary citizen. WHAT GROUP did this?

This is a VERY dangerous overstep of privacy rights in this country- Mr. Eckern was MADE into a 'celebrity' WITHOUT his consent- SOLELY because he donated money for a political cause that he believed in. This was not an illegal action. He acted as a member of the civic society and he his being PUNISHED for it, unfairly.

Thus, in the name of fighting 'bigotry', a man's career is probably ruined. Congratulations. Apparently, blacklisting someone because they were a Communist is wrong, but because they are oppossed to Gay Marriage, its ok. RIGHT.

Thank you Chad for bringing this to my attention. Now, to write my Congressman about this. SOMETHING must be done to stop this travesty from occuring again.

Darilian
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
Does the Supreme Court hear cases on State constitutions?


They won't hear it on the grounds that it's the state constitution. They might hear an appeal that the clause in the state constitution is inherently discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional under the federal Constitution.

A state, for example, couldn't amend their constitution to permit slavery, deny women the vote, or rescind civil rights from Asians (or whatever ethnic/racial group you'd care to pick). That'd land in the SCOTUS pretty quickly.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:


OK, but my question is whether they have ever overturned a State Supreme Court on a State Constitutional issue?



ALL state constitutions must be in compliance with the U.S. Constitution. So I couldn't see why not.
 
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Chad_Ellis wrote:

Agreed on the tax thing, but I have some real sympathy with the sense of second-class citizenship. Marriage is such a fundamental thing in our society -- being told that you belong to a class of people who aren't allowed to marry certainly isn't first class.


Not that I am saying that 2 wrongs equal a right. But I have to say I find the irony in this whole thing to be amusing on a deep twisted level.

By the thinking that defining marriage makes a default group "second class" then the US as a society told the Mormons they couldn't even be second class, there were not welcome to be citizens of any kind. US society insisted they change their religion before we would let Utah join the Union. So if anybody might think they have a historical right to insist that nobody go mucking around with the structure of marriage at this point, it would be them.
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Agree or disagree with the man, fine. What the OP describes is action of the Thought Police.

Darilian wrote:


Quote:
2. Could Eckern really be that surprised by the reaction? My guess is that he never thought his contribution would become public knowledge, but he had to have known how gay people saw Prop 8.

perfalbion wrote:


If he didn't think this would get out, he's a bit dense. Web sites are now available to make donation information public.


So lets say that, living in Texas, I work at a gun store. Lets say that I donate money to a Gun Control PAC. Would it be fair for an NRA supporter to get my name off the lists, make that public and get me fired from my job at a Gun Store?

SOMEONE combed those lists to find someone to shame and make a public stink about. This is a deliberate hack job by someone who was LOOKING for someone like Eckern to 'shame' and disgrace, all the for the sake of their partisan agenda.

Darilian

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The sad part about this, in my opinion, is the intolerance of a group that are not tolerated. We all understand that retribution has a fulfilling feeling, but to step above and beyond it is the higher path. I would hope that groups that are discriminated against could find this high road, but this is just another example that they do not.

This director has every right to his feelings on the issue, and every right to contribute to it's legislation. To retaliate because you disagree with his stand is distinctly against the free expression of ideas. The price of freedom is tolerance, and until all people understand and accept this we will never be free.
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Meerkat wrote:
US society insisted they change their religion before we would let Utah join the Union. So if anybody might think they have a historical right to insist that nobody go mucking around with the structure of marriage at this point, it would be them.


The US outlawed bigamy well before Utah joined the Union and a Mormon lost his case in SCOTUS regarding bigamy 26 years before they were admitted as a state. The church was required to make no changes - it was already subject to US law as a territory.
 
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Shushnik wrote:
The sad part about this, in my opinion, is the intolerance of a group that are not tolerated. We all understand that retribution has a fulfilling feeling, but to step above and beyond it is the higher path. I would hope that groups that are discriminated against could find this high road, but this is just another example that they do not.

This director has every right to his feelings on the issue, and every right to contribute to it's legislation. To retaliate because you disagree with his stand is distinctly against the free expression of ideas. The price of freedom is tolerance, and until all people understand and accept this we will never be free.


But this isn't about rights and freedoms, it about business. And while those laws protect your rights, if your employment is based on performance, and the consumer chooses not to support your business. Then you are failing to perform. No matter what the reason.

This is golden rule stuff here.
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