PARENTAL RIGHTS? Florida school district accused of antisemitic censorship

PARENTAL RIGHTS? Florida school district accused of antisemitic censorship

A century after the censorship of Jewish playwright Sholem Asch’s ‘God of Vengeance’ play on Broadway, Florida Republicans are repeating the same fascist playbook.

High School student, Madeline Scotti, was thrust into the spotlight after being cast in a new play about the censorship of God of Vengeance – a play entitled Indecent.

The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts student blames the Florida GOP-sponsored “Don’t Say Gay” bill for the pushback against playwright Paula Vogel’s work.

“Tonight during rehearsal our company was notified that the school board is shutting us down not because of but related to the ideals stated in the ‘Don’t Say, Gay Bill,'” Scotti said.

“One hundred years – 100 years – and we are still fighting the same injustices that Sholem Asch and his company did,” she added.

Paula Vogel, the writer of Indecent, weighed in on the controversy, telling The Jerusalem Post, “Parents who live in the community have written to me and said, ‘There is rising antisemitism in our community.'”

Paula Vogel, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, and author of “Indecent”

Students participating in the play all had the permission of their parents. But despite parental choice, those opposed to the performance of the play use the narrative of parental rights to restrict those implementing their own.

“I very much think that what the school board may not be able to express is their concern about presenting a play that shows how censorship is the first step to the Holocaust.”

Asch’s 1923 play featured what was potentially the first on-stage same-sex kiss between two women.

There has been a rise in antisemitism nationwide in the past few years. The banning of the graphic novel Maus and The Diary of Anne Frank — coupled with the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the spreading of anti-Jewish propaganda — have contributed to the anti-Jewish narrative of domestic terrorists.

Vogel spoke with Indecent‘s original cast members via zoom to talk about the controversy.

The former Brown University professor and chair of Yale’s playwrighting department gave her input on the censorship of the high school reproduction of her work.

“We know this historically: The first step towards totalitarianism is censorship of the arts,” Vogel said. “It’s burning books. It’s closing down theaters. … In all societies as we go towards fascism, the arts are labeled as degenerate.”

“That’s the conversation we need to be having.”

Same-sex couples exist.

The Holocaust happened.

The attempted erasure and dismissal of both are not only egregious but rooted in bigotry.

The arts have long been a beacon of freedom, information, and awareness. the recent attempt by Florida Republicans to quell all three is a testament to the rising fascistic moves by the state’s governor and GOP-controlled legislature to limit the power of parents to decide what they are comfortable with their children being exposed to.

“Indecent is a story about how detrimental censorship is, about how its damaging effects can ruin a nation and a community,” Scotti said.

The Duval County Public School district pushed back on the claims of censorship. They say that the decision to cancel the play was due to dialogue deemed inappropriate for students.

So much for parental rights.

Original reporting by Philissa Cramer/jTA at the Jerusalem Post

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick.

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.