Conservatives have written critiques of the Public Theaters' "Death to Trump" version of Julius Caesar. Pressure led Delta and a few other corporate sponsors to pull out. Others did not.
And the show went on. Until Laura Loomer stepped up, got up and protested the production. And was arrested for it.
A New York production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” with a Trump-like character who is assassinated had a boisterous new scene this weekend: an activist who stormed the stage, yelling, “Do you want Trump to be assassinated?”
Police said Laura Loomer was arrested Friday evening during the play presented in Central Park by the city’s Public Theater. She was arrested, charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct and released. She must appear in court at a later date to respond to the charges.
“I’m out of jail, but I’m not apologetic,” the 24-year-old conservative activist wrote on Twitter. “Thanks to everyone who is supporting me & condemning political violence.”
As she rushed to the stage, Loomer reportedly shouted, “Stop leftist violence!”
The powerful moment when Laura Loomer stepped up changed the dynamics in a way that the usual articles didn't. That is what political protest does. The responses from the establishment were predictably cloying. A widely circulated post from Popehat referred to Laura only as a "troll". With no name. He linked to the New York Times story on the event. Hotair linked to the Guardian.
Hectoring "Why this is wrong" pieces have rolled out from the establishment. Apparently protesting things is what the left does. Not what we do. We believe in free speech. And on and on.
The attack found David French on the same side as Richard Spencer. Like some of the GOP establishment, Spencer felt the need to lecture on "art"? It also probably doesn't help that Laura is Jewish.
Condescending lectures about Shakespeare and the value of art remind most conservatives of why they hate the establishment.
Saner critiques boiled down to the heckler's veto. Conservatives stand for free speech. Not for shutting it down. And, as some insisted, we lose credibility when calling for speech rights with protests like this.
The latter argument is silly. It's not as if, in the eyes of the left, we have any to begin with,
The heckler's veto is a reasonable argument. And I would love it if we lived in a world with civil spaces, reasoned dialogue and mutually agreed rules. Unfortunately we don't because the left's entire long march has been the process of destroying those rules one after another.
Protests of this kind are deliberately disruptive and illegal. They are what you do when argument fails. When taxpayer money is being used to fantasize about the assassination of the President, the limits of reasonable conversation have been reached. It's even more disturbing when this is part of an ongoing national program for a coup. The left's hate machine just led to an attempted massacre of Freedom Caucus members of Congress.
Conservatives have been reduced to a cultural and political insurgency. The left is throwing away rules and norms faster than it can fight them. That is the sort of situation that requires protest. Protests that disrupt are not free speech. But they are a challenge.
Laura Loomer's protest didn't prevent the production from going on. It served as an important reminder of what is at stake in a deliberately contemporary and political production. It's very different than the bomb threats or riots that have shut down conservative speakers entirely.
Expecting the left or its liberal useful idiots to do the right thing because they're lectured to about how they have abandoned liberal values is unrealistic. The left's goal is to shut down free speech. The right's goal is to warn of the consequences of the left's actions, to free speech and to our society at large.
Sometimes breaking the rules with a guerrilla protest is the only way to do that.
And it should be recognized that there's a difference between actively working to suppress someone's speech, which is what the left does, and offering an occasional forceful disruptive protest when the situation is urgent enough.
One of the great moments in the opposition to Obama came when Congressman Joe Wilson shouted, "You lie" at Obama. The establishment reviled him, but conservatives loved him.
Wilson didn't stop Obama from speaking. But he made his dissent clear. Laura made her dissent clear.