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.
At the Pantages Theatre.
Dan Savage was to discuss his “anti-bullying” campaign at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle. He launched into a hyperbolic and profane anti-Semitic and mostly anti-Christian diatribe in front of high school students, causing a walkout.
The Bible. We’ll just talk about the Bible for a second. People often point out that they can’t help – they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, it says right there in Leviticus, it says it right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans – that being gay is wrong.
We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people, the same way – the same way we learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation – we ignore – bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during [the] Civil War in justifying it.
The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slaves – and Paul doesn’t say “Christians don’t own people”. Paul talks about how Christians own people. We ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong.
Sam Harris, in “A Letter to a Christian Nation” points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced – wrong. Slavery. What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong – one hundred percent.
The bible says that if your daughter is not a virgin on her wedding night, if a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death.
Callista Gingrich lives.
And there is no effort – there is no effort – to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins – at least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days.
People are dying, because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible – about homosexuality. What they want to talk about is (laughs) – so you can tell the Bible guys in the hall they can come back now, I’m done beating up the Bible.
It’s funny how someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible – how pansy ass how some people react when pushed back. I apologize if I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings – but – I have a right to defend myself, and to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by point to the the Bible, and insisting we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.
Dan Savage is bigot.
Not only is Dan Savage a bigot, he is an ignorant bigot.
I already called the Journalism Education Association. I was instructed to write to them, because they will be compiling the responses. Their contact information is here. The National Student Press Association is in Minneapolis, and their contact information is here. Ask them: with Dan Savage’s history and his authorship of a graphic sex column being public knowledge, why would the JEA and NSPA even consider his appearance in front of high school students? Both these organizations must provide an explanation. (Note: The JEA and NSPA have issued a joint apology, not saying that his behavior was wrong – just inappropriate.)
The Hennepin Theatre Trust is allowing an anti-Semite who says someone like this to use their venue (WARNING: The link contains graphic obscene and violent descriptions). Call or write the Hennepin Theatre Trust and ask them why an anti-Semite will be allowed to use their facilities. (I have written to the Hennepin Theatre Trust.)
If it wasn’t for a Christian Pastor using Exodus as a guide, there would be no civil rights movement.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Of Blessed Memory.