The UK’s Daily Mail reported that the theater team, Backdoor Playhouse, “hosted a Christianity-themed drag show with the star performing dressed as a Catholic monk before stripping down to a corset and stockings.” Freedom Forever’s Landon Starbuck tweeted a video of this pseudo-courageous performance, along with the comment: “Tennessee Tech University hosted a drag show that had little kids handing cash to the drag queen who was performing a dance clearly meant to mock Christians. Every parent who pays to send their kids to @tennesseetech deserves to know that this is what they’re allowing on campus.”
The Daily Mail added that as the drag queen begins the act, “within seconds kids are seen heading to the stage to hand over cash as the performer drops the money and does the sign of the cross…. As soon as his monk rob came off, the audience cheered and more younger children rushed to the front of the stage. Audience members continued to cheer through multiple songs of the drag queen dancing while taking off more clothing.”
There was one way in which this clumsy and embarrassing performance was legitimately edgy: it went on without the knowledge or consent of Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham, who was appalled when he found out. Oldham stated, “I am disturbed and dismayed about the activities in a video circulating on social media from a recent event on Tennessee Tech’s campus. I do not feel the activities in the video represent Tech’s values, and I do not condone explicit activity where minors are present. I also am offended by disparaging mockery toward any religious group. To be clear, this was not a university sponsored event. No university funds were used. Two registered student groups facilitated the scheduling and promotion of the event. Although registered student organizations have the ability to reserve space on campus, the programming should not include obscene, lewd or explicit activities.”
This wasn’t just talk, or at least it appeared to be more than that: “Oldham said an investigation looking into the event is underway and all events scheduled by ‘these sponsoring organizations are cancelled pending review.’”
The performance also, not unexpectedly, had its defenders. One wrote, “I didn’t see anything outrageous but even if that was the case, was anybody forced to attend? Were children present against their parents’ wishes.” Apparently not, and that’s part of the problem. Another asked, “All this over a theatrical performance with no nudity or profanity? How can a college have a president who does not understand free speech, diversity, equity, inclusion and performance art?”
Free speech? Yeah? All right. In that case, when is the Backdoor Playhouse going to put on a drag show mocking Islam, featuring a performer dressed as a mullah and stripping as little children throw money at him? What’s that? Never? Of course the Backdoor Playhouse would never dream in a million years of putting on such a show, because it doesn’t want to appear “racist” and “Islamophobic.” But Christianity is always fair game. The double standard is glaring and obvious, and stems from the threat of violence that hangs over everyone who criticizes, much less mocks, Islam. In this age of pandemic cowardice, that threat gets a lot of people talking about “respect” for Islam who would never be caught dead doing so in connection with Christianity. And so there could be, someday, somewhere, an edgy, stunning, and brave defense of the freedom of expression, but that would involve challenging things like Islam, things the cultural Left holds sacred. That isn’t going to happen, at least not at Tennessee Tech.