New York's Public Theater has decided to malign the president and his wife in its production of "Julius Caesar." The Shakespeare in the Park play opened yesterday at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
It depicts President Trump as Caesar—the dress and iconography are unmistakable—and Melania as Caesar's wife Calpurnia, complete with a Slavic accent. Trump/Caesar is brutally assassinated.
Delta and Bank of America both withdrew their sponsorship of the play, saying that it crossed the line. But the New York Times is standing fast, citing its allegiance to free speech. "As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media," the newspaper said, "we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose."
This is a lie. The New York Times is standing by the play because it likes it—it has nothing to do with its alleged commitment to free speech. I will prove it.
On February 29, 2016, the New York Times ran an op-ed page ad I wrote blasting Disney-ABC for airing a TV show, "The Real O'Neals," based on the life of Dan Savage, an obscene anti-Catholic. It was not the ad I wanted—I settled for it after my initial submission was rejected. Click here to read the ad the Times would not print.
The Times explained its decision to nix my ad saying, "the use of off color examples of Mr. Savage's quotes, still leaves our readers with the offensive comments of Mr. Savage, less a vulgar word or two. Even with the particular vulgarities reduced to astericks [sic], the comments are still too off color for this newspaper. It's like telling a dirty joke, and using asterisks for the offensive words. The joke will still be offensive to our readers."
Now how about them apples! The New York Times put on its Victorian hat by refusing to offend its readers with Dan Savage's vulgarities, but it has no qualms about sponsoring a vulgar assault on President Trump and his wife Melania.
The Times has every right to establish its house rules, and we have every right to call them out for being rank hypocrites.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.