Monday, November 21, 2016


The brouhaha around the Pence-Hamilton incident is, on the surface, a tempest in a teapot.  However, below the surface, I am not sure what occurred is insignificant.

(1) The President-elect is entitled to tweet his opinion on whether a cast member can or should make a statement directed at the Vice President-elect. The President-elect is also entitled to negatively characterize the actor's comments--even if his characterization is, as it was, inaccurate to any dispassionate ear.  And the audience is entitled to voice its collective disdain for the Vice President in the manner that it did. If the second amendment is to be preserved at all costs, it is for sure and certain that the first amendment should be preserved and observed.

So while the right to utter comments is indisputable and all the commotion about how appropriate it might be is something I will think about if I live beyond 145 and have some free time, the potential chilling effects on free speech that could be the residual of Trump's tweet, are not benign.  Might people begin to fear voicing their opinion lest they be the subject of inquiries by the president of the country?  Could comments about, for example, the media being "bad people", SNL being "unfair", and the Times printing irresponsibly, retard anyone's or any medium's willingness to communicate critically?

(2) What the actor said at the end of the Hamilton production, is nothing compared to the nature of criticism that our presidents typically receive.  Go ask the living ex Presidents about the relative magnitude of such remarks.  If this Hamilton sort of criticism will rile the President-elect, what sort of fellow is he?  Anyone in the public eye worth anything must be able to take a shot, or they will be wounded so regularly that they will be too impaired to do the job.  President elect Trump lost the popular vote by over one million votes. There are a lot of people not real happy with the results.  These voters have to deal with the reality of this administration, and Trump has to deal with the reality that if he wants to bring the country together as he claims, he will have to recognize that publicly criticizing opponents will not be a balm that bridges the divide.

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