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04/16/2008

Production of 'Dog' angers man of God

by Jeremy Hooper

200804162151When a play comes to our town that we don't like -- and being that Good As You is based in NYC, bad theatre happens in our town on a nightly basis -- we simply choose to not go see it. But then again, we are not conservative Christians who feel that our personal faith views on a certain population sect should be used to set the entertainment agenda for the whole of a society. We're not Chuck Miller of Powhatan, VA, who chose to write the following to the Richmond-Times Dispatch after learning that the gay-inclusive (and hysterical!) play The Little Dog Laughed is being performed in his area:

Barksdale Production Promotes Immorality

Editor, Times-Dispatch:
I don't wish to go into a long discourse over the theme of "Little Dog Laughed," the play reviewed by Celia Wren.

I understand that the Barksdale Theatre's artistic director, Bruce Miller, has "had the privilege to be so personally involved with so many wonderful same-sex couples." I'm sure many same-sex couples are nice to be around, but my wife and I consider those who practice homosexuality to be living immoral lives.

We will not knowingly support activities for or about homosexuality or those who promote or sanction such lifestyles. Nor do we think nudity is necessary or that frank public discussion or portrayal of sexual practices is necessary in public entertainment.

Accordingly, we will not support the Barksdale or other theaters that present such material. We do not believe that this type of material should be offered to young people as if they have a different code of morals from that of older patrons or a willingness to spend their money for questionable material.

Material of low moral quality should not be offered to titillate the young or the old to generate more revenue.

Sexual practices and off-color language are not meant for public discussion and exposition. They are not "positive images" as indicated by Miller, and if he feels it necessary to bring such "edgy" material to Barksdale offerings, my wife and I will find it necessary to find other venues for our entertainment dollars.

Chuck Miller. Powhatan.

Wow, a dude is gunning at a piece of THEATRE for being too gay? What next, Mr. Miller -- gonna refuse to patronize the little cafe with the rainbow flag if they don't stop catering to ladies with close-cropped hair?

Seriously, dude, we respect your places of worship. Now do us a favor and stop gunnin' for the Church of Shakespeare & Sondheim!

Barksdale Production Promotes Immorality [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

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Your thoughts

"I'm sure many same-sex couples are nice to be around, but my wife and I consider those who practice homosexuality to be living immoral lives."

My reply: "Too bad for you and your wife. And who cares what you and your shrew considers to be immoral lives?".

Posted by: Scott | Apr 16, 2008 10:04:50 PM

"...but my wife and I consider those who practice homosexuality to be living immoral lives."

I, for one, never "practiced" homosexuality. I was a natural from the get-go. Am I still immoral?

What a tight-assed busybody.

Posted by: Uncle Mike | Apr 16, 2008 11:24:03 PM

It is probably pretty unlikely that the Millers (or any of their bottom feeding friends) spent much time or money at the Barksdale anyway, so who cares?

Dick Mills

Posted by: Dick Mills | Apr 16, 2008 11:28:51 PM

"...but my wife and I consider those who practice homosexuality to be living immoral lives."

I didn't have to practice sweetheart, got it right first try. ;)

Seriously, ditto to Dick Mills.

Posted by: Alan T. Liber | Apr 17, 2008 2:06:25 AM

"Sexual practices and off-color language are not meant for public discussion..." these wound-too-tight kind of guys remind me of Chris Cooper's character in American Beauty, I think he doth protest too much ;-)

Posted by: Patrick | Apr 17, 2008 2:08:17 AM

I followed the link to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and continued reading other letters to the editor. All I can say is Thank God I live in a blue state! I just can't imagine living around so many backward thinking people and that’s saying a lot considering that I live in Upstate NY not the most liberal part of the state.

Posted by: S.Deane | Apr 17, 2008 8:16:25 AM

"All I can say is Thank God I live in a blue state!"

Gives a totally new meaning to "Better dead, than red.

Posted by: Mike in the Tndra | Apr 17, 2008 9:24:24 AM

For Mr. Miller... We all sat for the article so that there would be no confusion as to what he might be coming to see. Do something polite and you get snapped at :)

Posted by: JKD | Apr 17, 2008 11:09:38 AM

Thanks for sharing, JK. Break a leg!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 17, 2008 11:12:49 AM

First, I would like to note that you only are presuming that Chuck Miller is a Christian (or 'man of God') and a conservative. He could be a socialist Muslim, some kind of Communist gay-basher, or athiest Scientologist repressed jealous bisexual crossdressing Democrat. He doesn't say.

Please note that while I'm not defending Mr. Miller's content, his position is coherent, well thought, and not religiously preachy (to be absolutely clear, I do not agree with his positions). If you argue that his use of 'moral/immoral' must lend a religious tone, then you are throwing weight behind the presumption that the non-religious tend to be not moral. I hope we can agree that there are uncountable millions of moral folks who aren't religious or conservative. Morals differ. Mr. Miller is outlining his morals in a religion-free screed, and felt the need to let everyone know through the Richmond T-D. I, like you, would just avoid what I didn't want to see, and not try to rally the troops via Letters to the Editor.

Do let me say that there are many, many of us who happen to be religious conservatives in Richmond who joyfully embrace the live-and-let-live mentality. In fact, many of us theatrephiles would probably enjoy a play like this (I admit my work schedule has kept me from the Barksdale for many years now). One of the main purposes of theatre arts (to me) is so we can see the world through other people's eyes. You learn so much about the human condition -- about people not like yourself. And if it's funny -- all the better!

I wonder, using his own logic, if Mr. Miller avoids all movie theatres because surely they have shown films with content he would find immoral. I doubt it.

Sorry for the length... I do feel the need to defend Powhatan and the rest of the greater Richmond area a little. I'm not from here, but I moved here as an adult. In my experience, it really is a good and tolerant place where you can find a wide variety of offerings from all walks of life.

...and just like where you live, we have bigots, too. :)

Posted by: Billy in Powhatan | Apr 17, 2008 5:00:27 PM

Well said, Billy in Powhatan!

You should not have presumed to know the religious convictions of Chuck Miller, Jeremy. His letter to the editor doesn't mention religion at all.

One doesn't have to be particularly religious to be a prude.

Posted by: David | Apr 17, 2008 8:33:00 PM

David: While I admit that I presumed he was a Christian, it's ridiculous to assume that he's merely a non-religious prude.

"My wife and I consider those who practice homosexuality to be living immoral lives"

This absolutely has an implied religious connotation!

So again, I absolutely admit did make an assumption that he's a Christian. I write thousands a words a day and made a hasty error (thinking he had mentioned Christianity explicitly). But let's not act as if there were no context clues in place!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 17, 2008 8:38:46 PM

"This absolutely has an implied religious connotation!"

No, it doesn't. Given the makeup of our society it makes a religious objection likely, but it doesn't make it necessary. When Powhaten Bill said, "He could be a socialist Muslim, some kind of Communist gay-basher, or athiest Scientologist repressed jealous bisexual crossdressing Democrat," he was correct.

Also, please note then when I told you "One doesn't have to be particularly religious to be a prude," I wasn't telling you to assume the man wasn't religious. I was simply stating a fact that fit the theme of my comment: You shouldn't assume facts not in evidence. So don't assume I didn't follow my own advice!

Posted by: David | Apr 18, 2008 2:52:37 AM

"Given the makeup of our society it makes a religious objection likely, but it doesn't make it necessary."

Exactly, David -- the context of the words makes a religious objection likely! That's what I said in the previous comment -- that I assumed on the basis of the context that it was a religious condemnation.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 18, 2008 8:11:48 AM

The Bruce Miller who is mentioned in Chuck Miller's letter to the editor is artistic director of Barksdale Theatre. Bruce Miller has written some outstanding comments throughout the Barksdale blog, one of which is a comment to Chuck Miller's attack. You can find it all at www.BarksdaleRichmond.org, and then check blog at the top of the home page.

Posted by: Linc | Apr 20, 2008 9:11:02 PM

I find it quite interesting that people like you holler for "freedom of speech". But as soon as a person like Chuck exercises that freedom you say "shut up". Freedom for me but not for you -- is that your position?

Chuck expressed his opinion in a way that was respectful and straight forward. Chuck did not attack any individual person, but expressed an opinion about a public company. More that that, his letter did not in any way display "anger".

You may disagree with his position, which is fine. But what gives you the right to personally attack Chuck Miller as an individual for expressing his opinion about a company? Should Chuck be denied the same freedom we give to others? Should he have less freedom than you do?

I admire Chuck! He stood up for what he believes and had the courage to write it!


As to your comment about "we respect your places of worship". Obviously you do not keep up on the news very well. Places of worship are often targeted for various acts of vandalism and disrespect -- be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or others. I am aware of one church that had a group of gay activists show up and, in the middle of the service, stand up and start throwing used condoms at the people there. The news report was most interesting, because no anger was expressed by the pastor of that church. He actually invited the folks to come back and stay through a service!

Posted by: Mikey | May 19, 2009 12:10:44 PM

No, Mikey: The problem is that social conservatives confuse scrutiny with "shutting down speech." Who the heck is shutting down anything here?!?! Not only did we not shut him down: We ran his letter in full for all to see, giving it more attention than it ever would've had!!!

Chuck said his piece, we said ours, you said yours, etc., etc. That's how it works: Fairness all around. Pushback and criticize our stances all you want: But don't present it as a "free speech" issue, when we run nothing less than an open, transparent forum!

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 19, 2009 12:51:57 PM

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