Hennepin Theatre Trust and bigotry
Here’s an exchange between me and Mr. Thomas Hoch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hennepin Theatre Trust:
On June 22nd, the Pantages Theatre, a venue under your direction, will present Dan Savage. I respectfully ask you to reconsider.
Mr. Savage has a public record of hyperbolic, obscene, and violent bigotry. Appearing on Real Time, an HBO show hosted by Bill Maher, he stated that he would want to [forcibly] sodomize Senator Rick Santorum, following the lead of another guest, Marc Maron, who stated he wanted to see Representative Michelle Bachmann raped; and more recently, Mr. Savage engaged in a profane anti-Semitic and anti-Christian diatribe in front of high school students at a student journalism conference. These are two examples.
I ask you, Sir, is this the type of person you want to appear at the Pantages? Do you want the Hennepin Theatre Trust to be on record allowing an anti-Semite and a violently anti-Christian bigot access to one of your venues?
It is you and the Board of Directors that will have to answer that question for yourselves.
Thank you for your consideration. I am looking forward to your reply.
I cc’d Councilwoman Goodman and Sarah Johnson, the Public Relations Manager for the Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Councilwoman Goodman wrote and advised me of information I didn’t know:
Thanks for your feedback to the Hennepin Theatre Trust. We as the City
gave them complete control over content so that the City would not be
making first amendment free speech decisions about each and every
Dan Savage just might offend my and many others sensibilities but the
HTT gets to decide to present him at the Pantages or not.
Is the Theatre still City property? Applicable law, ordinances and policies apply.
Mr. Hoch’s reply on May 3rd:
Thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts regarding our upcoming presentation of journalist and commentator Dan Savage. Mr. Savage’s work and expression of ideas often provoke a wide range of opinions and responses. I understand and appreciate that his performance may be offensive to some, perhaps many. By presenting him, we are not asking everyone to agree with his opinions, messages, methods or styles of delivery.
Hennepin Theatre Trust does, however, believe in offering audiences many choices in programming, reflecting the diversity of interests and opinions in this community. In the case of Dan Savage and other Hennepin Theatre Trust presented programs, which range from Mamma Mia to BB King, I respect our public’s right to choose to attend these presentations…or not.
Dan Savage and his work have been positively recognized nationally and internationally for supporting teenagers who may be bullied for their beliefs or sexual orientation, including “It Gets Better,” which asks people to make and upload short videos about their positive experiences. His newest work, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living,” became a New York Times Bestseller, addressing an issue currently affecting many young people. While I do not personally agree with every position Mr. Savage has assumed, I believe it not a disservice to our community to present him.
I really do appreciate your contacting me and appreciate your patience in awaiting my response. -Tom
Is Mr. Hoch going to book the Westboro Baptist Church? After all, it would be the public’s decision to attend or not.
I sincerely doubt it. May 24th:
Thank you for replying to my email of May 1st.
If you were an independent theater company or owner, I could only offer my opinion of your entity’s choice of artists or performers to appear at the Pantages or any of the Trust’s venues. That, however, is not the case. A very important point that has been overlooked: Legacy Amendment funds – part of my paycheck – is being diverted for use to the Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Directly to the point: I am being forcibly compelled to fund your organization which has chosen to present a violently obscene anti-Semite at the Pantages. This is unacceptable.
I await your suggestion to resolve this matter.
cc: Honorable Lisa Goodman; Sarah Johnson, Public Relations Manager, Hennepin Theatre Trust
He has not answered as of today.
The Trust – a 501c3 non-profit, is involved in political activities by publicly opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. The IRS and Minnesota Revenue review their in-kind and direct cash payments to opponents of the Marriage Amendment, or any grants from Legacy Amendment tax funds, used to promote the condemnation of normative Jewish family tradition.