Free Speech in the Theater

Free Speech in the Theater

On Friday night, November 18, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton. Hamilton follows and tells the story of the

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On Friday night, November 18, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton. Hamilton follows and tells the story of the life of Alexander Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton served as the first Secretary of the Treasury. During his service, Hamilton created a stronger US economy that promoted a centralized government after the Revolutionary War through the establishment of the US Mint and the first national bank.

As VP-elect Pence walked to his seat with his children, boos and some cheers erupted from the other audience members. VP- elect Pence waved politely to the crowd and took his seat. The musical was performed as usual, but as VP-elect Pence was leaving, he was stopped by a cast member because the cast wanted to express their thoughts and concerns to him by saying:

We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.

Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at “Hamilton American Musical,” we really do.

We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.

But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women, of different colors, creeds and orientations.”

Before sharing the message with the crowd and VP-elect Pence, the cast encouraged the audience to take out their phones and tweet/broadcast the message because they wanted it to be spread. Additionally the cast encouraged the audience to stop “booing” the VP-elect so that the message could be said.

Many wondered how VP-elect Pence felt about the message told to him at the theater venue. President-elect Trump shared his opinion via his Twitter account calling for the cast to apologize to him and deeming the method and venue of delivery inappropriate. Mike Pence, however, responded with a completely different message than President-elect Trump.

Mike Pence, in addition to complementing the cast and the production, said that he was not offended by the message delivered to him.  He left the decision of how appropriate the venue was up to others, but expressed very clearly how he was not offended. VP-elect recognized that many are disappointed that their candidate did not win and how some are extremely anxious. “I just want to reassure people that what President-elect Donald Trump said on election night,” said Pence,  “he absolutely meant from the bottom of his heart — he is preparing to be the president of all of the people of the United States of America.” He expressed that the President-elect and he will work everyday to govern for each and every American.

Pence also shared his view on the jeers of the audience when he was walking to his seat. He was not upset when he heard the “boos” coming from the audience.  “I nudged my kids and reminded them that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said.  Vice President-elect Pence recognizes one of the most valuable rights that Americans have is the right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is established in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, the first amendment of ten in the Bill of Rights, meaning that it can never be taken by the government. The freedom of speech enables Americans to say anything they believe, including criticism of the government or elected officials. Without freedom of speech, the America seen today would not exist. North Korea does not allow freedom of speech  and subjects those who speak freely, especially perceived opponents of the government, to forms of torture, forced labor, and starvation. Freedom of speech is what allows America to be progressive and the freest nation on Earth.

Vice President-elect Pence recognizing and teaching his children that the comments from the cast and the audience are freedom of speech demonstrates how he is not going to ignore the boundaries set for him and the rest of his administration set by law. Pence will not limit the basic principles given to any American by the Constitution. He has a strong record of being an independent conservative who is not afraid to kick the “party line”. Pence, while he served as a Congressman in Indiana during until 2011, opposed several policies, such as No Child Left Behind, established by President George W. Bush. VP-elect Pence’s response to the noise of the crowd gives a glimpse that he will be level-headed and classy in his leadership role in the Trump administration.

Was the venue of the theater was appropriate to deliver the message to Vice President-elect while he was with his family?