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I Like Your Art, But Your Morals Suck PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Folks:

Yankee Tavern is a new play by a Texan named Steven Dietz, and it’s worth a few moments of skeptical appraisal. In it, a young couple in New York find themselves swept up in a vast, dangerous government conspiracy. Terrified and confused, they are also incredulous: they are reasonable people, and know that vast and dangerous government conspiracies do not exist. Nevertheless, the play ends with one of them disappearing en route to visit an old college professor — who may be a conspirator herself.

When I spoke to one of the show’s actors, I was informed that this is merely “one possible interpretation.” But I could find no other. It was plain to me that in the universe of the play, the government conspiracy was unambiguously real. Which would be fine if the conspiracy in question had nothing to do with 9/11. Unfortunately, Yankee Tavern is very much about 9/11. The play’s government conspiracy is the same tired crap you heard about in Loose Change, and its presence on a respectable stage begs the question: while one should obviously have the freedom to write and produce whatever species of pabulum one desires, what responsibility does a theater or playwright have to the many credulous people who are likely to wander into a good sized auditorium during a play’s five-week run?

I have no answer, but I do dwell on the question at length in my column in this week’s New Times Broward/Palm Beach. Please come and have a looksee.


Grazie,

- Brandon K. Thorp

 

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begs the question?
written by TomHandy, May 30, 2009
How exactly does it beg the question?
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written by BillyJoe, May 30, 2009
How exactly does it beg the question?

I don't think he is using that phrase as a logical fallacy.
He means that the circumstances is just "begging him to ask the question" that he does, in fact, ask.

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The Rosie O'Donnell School of Science...
written by Human Person Jr, May 30, 2009
is actually the Rosie O'Donnell School of Politics.

There have always existed conspiracy theorists in the population. This time around, though, thanks to CNN, NBC, MSNBC and others suffering from Bush Hatred Derangement Syndrome (BHDS), lots of average citizens have begun to wonder if maybe 9/11 was "fixed" in some way. When you throw in the scurrilous "Loose Change," along with a few other bogus websites and productions, you've got yourself a real winner.

To his credit, former President Bill Clinton angrily addressed this issue, saying that the theorists dishonor the victims of 9/11. I challenge other Democrats, who've hugely benefitted from BHDS, to do the same. I likewise challenge unofficial arms of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), such as The New York Times and MSNBC to state the obvious facts. That might bring a few of the errant dupes back into the fold of reality-based thinking.

It will be difficult to get cooperation from these people, since their base is so heavily invested in demonizing former President Bush. These media outlets routinely feed other fairy tales to the dumb masses. Two examples: Our border with Mexico is plenty secure; we can fix our economy by ruining it. This is mostly a political issue with a political solution. Those interested in the science are very unlikely to fall for the bullshit.

This play is certainly worthy of the criticism you've levelled. However, it's not nearly so damaging as Rosie's and other celeb's venomous spewings. Good luck with your very worthwhile efforts to curb these infuriating lies.
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@ TomHandy
written by Human Person Jr, May 30, 2009
Could you elaborate on your "begs the question" question? I'll be surprised if you're not a 9/11 conspiracy wackjob yourself.
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begging the question
written by Bjørnar, May 30, 2009
TomHandy's issue is that Brandon's use is considered colloquial and/or "wrong", depending on your outlook on linguistics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question#Colloquial_usage
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Raising the question ;)
written by BillyJoe, May 30, 2009
TomHandy's issue is that Brandon's use is considered colloquial

TomHandy thinks Brandon is using "begs the question" as a logical fallacy, whereas he is actually using it in the colloquial sense, as in "begets the question" or "raises the question".


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Definitely meant...
written by Julián Rodriguez Orihuela, May 30, 2009
Definitely meant "raises the question", not begs.
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written by BillyJoe, May 30, 2009
...BTW, thanks for your link. I didn't recognise the term (colloquial)
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written by MadScientist, May 31, 2009
Why worry? If it's a crappy play it will die and (hopefully) be forgotten. The script writers and producers may whine about how it was killed by a conspiracy. Whack-a-loons will be attracted to the play like flies to feces, but even that would not save it. I think the loons really do have serious mental problems, so annoying as it is to have them trivialize mass murder I think the only appropriate response is to shout at them (even though I'd like to pick up a hammer and have a whack at them).
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Hey?
written by BillyJoe, May 31, 2009
Why worry?

We're not. That's why we've entertained oursleves with the "begs the question" side-track. smilies/grin.gif

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written by bosshog, May 31, 2009
Q: "What responsibility does a theater or playwright have to the many credulous people who are likely to wander into a good sized auditorium during a play’s five-week run?"

A: To pick their pockets to the very limit of their credulity in order to line the pockets of the financial backers of the play.

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written by bigjohn756, May 31, 2009
"begging the question"??!! For help understanding this all too common usage error, listen to this:
http://grammar.quickanddirtyti...tion.aspx
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written by bosshog, May 31, 2009
Regarding this business of protecting the credulous and the weak-minded from themselves...

The American Heritage dictionary explains natural selection thusly:
"By natural selection, any characteristic of an individual that allows it to survive to produce more offspring will eventually appear in every individual of the species, simply because those members will have more offspring".

No animal breeder would deliberately cultivate a cow that gives bloody milk or a pig that produces nothing but fat or a chicken that lays yolkless eggs. So why should we strengthen the stupidity and irrationality of our own species by giving preferential treatment to idiots?
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written by LuigiNovi, May 31, 2009
Brandon K. Thorp: what responsibility does a theater or playwright have to the many credulous people who are likely to wander into a good sized auditorium during a play’s five-week run?
Luigi Novi: If you ask me, lots. If you ask people like Oliver Stone or Steven Dietz, or any other storyteller who makes films ostensibly about real-life events that are actually filled with lies (Murder in the First, Boys Don't Cry, Monster, etc.), apparently none.
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@bosshog
written by Lil Mattachino, May 31, 2009
Bosshog:

There is definitely a difference between a principled indifference to others' stupidity -- for that is what you seem to be advocating -- and actively exploiting it to the potential detriment of the citizenry. And I'm not even sure that a "principled indifference" makes sense.

Not all art is good. Some art is aesthetically solid but intellectually vapid. Some art that is intellectually vapid tries to present itself as something else -- as is the case with Yankee Tavern. And the job of the critic, one hopes, is to sift through a culture's artifacts and call "foul" when somebody does his or her audience dirty, or to indicate to a reader how one might appraise an artifact in the proper context. On a very good day, a critic might leave a kind of trail of breadcrumbs through a given piece of art, showing the reader where to find novelty or truth or beauty.

So there is lots for a critic to do, all of which, viewed cynically, could be called "protecting the credulous and weak-minded from themselves." (But which a non-cynic might call "lending a helping hand.") If, as you seem to indicate, it were proper to leave people exclusively to their own interpretive devices at all times and in all cases, we should live in a world without a published criticism of anything -- not just of art, but of political programs, religions, and homeopaths. Welcome to the world, caveat emptor, good luck. This might quicken the process of human natural selection, but it doesn't sound very pleasant.

Perhaps I misunderstood your comment. Could you expand?

- lilmattachine
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written by Brookston John, May 31, 2009
Ok, I'm not sure I understand the problem here.
Is J. K. Rowlings responsible for people who wander the English countryside searching for "Hogwarts"?
Or is it a problem because "Truthers" are more annoying?

Now let's criticize Sinclair Lewis for writing "It Can't Happen HERE!" because some of us thought that perhaps Karl Rove was plagiarizing big chunks of it for his playbook.
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@ bosshog
written by BillyJoe, May 31, 2009
Regarding this business of protecting the credulous and the weak-minded from themselves ... No animal breeder would deliberately cultivate a cow that gives bloody milk or a pig that produces nothing but fat or a chicken that lays yolkless eggs. So why should we strengthen the stupidity and irrationality of our own species by giving preferential treatment to idiots?

Oh well, at least you didn't suggest they give themselves an overdose of something and remove themselves from the gene pool.

At least James Randi would be proud of you, though but he obviously still has some work to do.

BillyJoe
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written by Mark P, May 31, 2009
Ok, I'm not sure I understand the problem here.
Is J. K. Rowlings responsible for people who wander the English countryside searching for "Hogwarts"?


But the play could have been written about a conspiracy with no particular following. They did not need to pander to lunacy.

How about if the play had been written about a conspiracy based on people who are actually known to have sought the overthrow of modern USA. Mix in Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber, for example, with rogue CIA agents and Mexican crimelords. Sure it makes no sense -- but neither does 911 Truther rubbish. It would take on the Truther movement head on though -- that they themselves are, in fact, more of a conspiracy than any Bush-led 911 rot.
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It's all true . . . ?
written by Lil Mattachino, May 31, 2009
And you've gotta love the special page added to the theater's website, on which somebody explains dives into the data behind the play's conspiracy theories without mentioning that they all add up to bupkus -- though the writer does say portentously of the play's disconnected facts and figures: "It's all true." Check it out: http://www.floridastage.org/fm-yankeetavern-true
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Check it out: http://www.floridastage.org/fm-yankeetavern-true
written by BillyJoe, May 31, 2009
World Trade Center Building 7, the often forgotten third building to fall on 9/11, is said to have failed due to fire. If so, it is the first skyscraper in history to do so.
Well, how many skyscrapers have been hit by a couple of jets and, hey, someone has to be first.

On 9/11, Dan Rather said on live television that the fall of Building 7 looked like a perfectly executed demolition.
Dan is rather an expert on these matters I'm sure. In fact, it does not as anyone watching the video can see for themselves

The World Trade Center was designed specifically to withstand the impact of a jet.
It did. The flames took it down. And if they included that in the calculation, they couldn't be wrong by any chance?

Larry Silverstein, owner of the World Trade Center, took out a $3.5 billion insurance policy on the towers just two months before 9/11.
Surely he merely re-insured the building. Or was it previously uninsured????

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written by MadScientist, June 01, 2009
@LuigiNovi: I agree; money is the only object (and to be fair, a writer often does not have control of a script once he signs it over). Examples abound; Cameron's version of the Titanic makes the most vile coward out of the captain who in real life went down with his ship while trying to save the people in his care. Beware of Hollywood and Theater bearing docudramas!
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written by Mark P, June 01, 2009
Larry Silverstein, owner of the World Trade Center, took out a $3.5 billion insurance policy on the towers just two months before 9/11


This has to be the saddest line ever. smilies/cheesy.gif Fighting off a $3,500,000,000 law suit, do you think the insurance company would not run with the idea that Silverstein new 911 was coming if it had any chance of winning? They would spend millions investigating a chance like that. No stone would be left unturned. Even if they thought it was government negligence (let alone deliberate action) they would investigate, in order to sue.

Try and that with your house -- insure it and then have a phony "accident" -- and see whether the insurance company pays up! Yet apparently they take a HUGE loss like lambs! Truther claims are so peculiar you have to worry whether they have ever met an insurance assessor.
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written by Diverted Chrome, June 01, 2009
Tom's on the right track, it's not the right usage of "begging the question". Grammatically it should be "raises the question".

It standing out because patrons are concomitant of logic don't it?
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C'mon!
written by Raindoggy, June 02, 2009
Its a play. Fantasy, a way for people exercise their incredulity in relative safety and then go on with their lives. just because i dont believe in ghosts doesnt mean I cant enjoy a good ghost story.
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btw
written by tctheunbeliever, June 02, 2009
Skeptic magazine v.12 #4 did a very good treatment (imho) of the 9/11 "Truth" delusion, at least their "evidence" up to that time. As did Penn and Teller's BS, but I forget the episode.
I guess I should be proud that I was able to figure all by myself that controlled demolitions don't look like that.
Is there a separate forum for beating dead horses?
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