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Is This the Next Wave of Free Speech Attacks?

It’s hard to get worked up over a theater critic losing some free show passes.

In this particular case, though, those seats matter.  And, combined with another politically correct attack against free speech, it’s downright chilling.

Meet Hedy Weiss. She’s a veteran theater and dance critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Weiss also contributes to WTTW-Ch. 11’s “Chicago Tonight.”

Curtain Call with Hedy Weiss: Rebecca Gilman and Robert Falls

The field of criticism is dominated by men. Weiss remains both an exception and an institution for many Chicago art lovers.

She’s also the target of a petition asking Chicago-area theaters to remove her press access.


Hedy Weiss, theater critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, has proven that she is not willing to work with us to create a positive environment. She has proven this repeatedly with the racism, homophobia, and body shaming found in her reviews. She has proven this by never, not once, apologizing to a party injured by her words – The Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition

The Chicago Tribune reports that 20 of the city’s theatrical companies have agreed to the ban. Included in that group? Second City, the venerable improv troupe which has spawned some of the biggest names in comedy.

Think Tina Fey, Jordan Peele and Mike Myers.

Weiss’ offenses? Here’s one of Weiss’ “problematic” samples:

“No one can argue with the fact that this city … has a problem with the use of deadly police force against African-Americans. But, for all the many and varied causes we know so well, much of the lion’s share of the violence is perpetrated within the community itself.”

Here’s an example of Weiss’ alleged fat-shaming in a “Mamma Mia!” review:

Theresa Ham’s character-defining costumes make the most of the many ‘real women’ figures on stage, just as the gold and silver spandex outfits outline the perfect bodies of the terrific chorus dancers.”

For now, Weiss’ employers at the Chicago Sun-Times have her back. The Chicago Tribune penned a fiery rebuke to the ban.

Will that last?

Some theater companies involved in the subject reported feeling “pressure” from the activist group. Sound familiar?

Whose Side Are You On?

It remains to be seen if Weiss’ fellow critics will rally behind her, ignore the matter or even side with the theaters choosing to rescind their press access.

Stay tuned.

A similar story from the world of music offers a haunting preview of thought policing to come.

A record label has dropped the band Dream Machine after two of its members were caught expressing “ugly opinions” about political correctness, safe spaces, feminism and immigration.

The Calif.-based Castle Face Records promised to donate profits from the album in question to charity to make amends.

Dream Machine "I Walked In The Fire" Music Video (2017)

Group member Doris Melton’s comments regarding illegal immigration proved “problematic,” apparently. She legally immigrated to the U.S. from Bosnia and applauded recent efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

ICE is just doing their job, and I’m glad they’re finally starting to work on deporting criminal illegal aliens too. It took ages for me to get my green card here legally and because there’s so many illegals coming in they make it hard for the people who do want to become part of American society the right way. They’re handing out free money to people who come here illegally, but when you want to work hard to become an American citizen to start a family they make it so hard on you, and expensive!

The band members also took swipes at PC culture, feminism and safe spaces in that same interview. For that they lost their label.

The label is a private company and can see fit to hire, or fire, a band for a variety of reasons. In this case, the rockers simply expressed opinions outside the liberal groupthink.

And they paid the price for it.

Will other labels follow suit? Will singers who harbor right-of-center views suddenly clam up for fear or losing a paycheck? Will they fear a conservative tweet or Instagram post could be enough to “out” them?

Hollywood conservatives know the drill. Speak up, share your right-of-center views and watch the gigs dry up.

Meanwhile, the arts community has been rallying around a New York play in which a Trump-like Julius Caesar is stabbed to death in a bloody, grotesque fashion.

Will those same voices rise up to defend Dream Machine or Weiss?

The Thought Police are on the march. Meanwhile, artists and arts reporters alike keep name-checking George Orwell’s “1984” in reference to … the fairly elected Donald Trump.

Photo credit: alexisnyal via / CC BY

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