Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Well I must admit that I have been surprised at the amount of response, both pro and con, that I have received regarding my comments on the play “Rent.”
Just for the record, I do want to clarify what I did say and what I did not say. First, I did not say nor do I feel that I in any way disapproved of the message and general content of “Rent.” I do not. The theme of the play is as relevant now as when it came out on Broadway. Although the content is disturbing, raising awareness of the many issues such as this is needed. Awareness of issues such as AIDS, teen pregnancy, abuse in many forms, child trafficking, abortion, etc is critical if we are improve our society in general and be able to help those who may be trapped in one of these environments.
What I did say and still do say is that some of the language in the play was crude, vulgar but most of all unnecessary and, in my opinion, detracted from the important message of the play. I fully agree with Mayor Collins in saying that I do not feel that the FPT needs to or should justify why they chose this play in their series. That is looking backwards which generally brings nothing positive but can sometimes be instructive going forward which is where focus needs to be centered.
Some have said that what I want is censorship of what the FPT chooses to have in the theater. Nothing could be further from the truth as free speech needs to remain a founding principal for us all. What I would hope might come of this is dialog going forward about the type plays that would meet the vision and values of the FTP, our Town and the community at large to be most beneficial to all who live here. Like it or not, we are a large bedroom community that is now in the midst of incredible growth in many sectors that is going to be beneficial to our growing citizenry and the businesses we have and the ones soon to come. Working together, I believe through open communication and shared goals that we can find common ground that meets the desires of the FPT and would allow a larger percentage of our populace to be able to enjoy the plays that are aired.
In the case of the message of “Rent,” my belief is that greater awareness of the message presented is also, maybe most, important to the youth of our community which I feel some of the language did not allow. The Town has provided funding to help the FTP continue to be the vital part of our community that it has been these many years. Providing funding, in my opinion, also gives Town Council or anyone else the right to provide input to the FTP regarding their operations. Hopefully this input can be positive and helpful, but not censorship. I recognize that some of the public may still not agree with my position. As an elected official, I am expected to represent the people and make the best decisions I can based on my knowledge, beliefs and the input I get from others on a myriad of issues. I try my best to do this but realize that I cannot and never will be able to satisfy 100% of the people 100% of the time despite my efforts to do so. I will continue to provide the best leadership I can. I trust this letter has made it clearer as to what my statements actually were and the intent behind them.
I am certainly open to having dialog with anyone regarding this issue as well as any others that involve the Town of Summerville. Thank you to all who have responded on both sides of this issue, it has been truly enlightening.
Summerville Town Council