November 17, 2006, - 3:13 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Free speech in America isn’t worth anything if it isn’t applied equally.
Take the sons and daughters of Italy who’ve been a part of this country from its founding.
This week, a judge ruled against Italian Americans upset over a suburban Chicago middle school school play titled “Fuggedaboutit–A Little Mobster Comedy,” performed by “the Bada Bing Players.”
I agree with the Italians.
When Italians complained about mobster movies or shows, like “The Sopranos,” I used to think they were wrong and over-reacting. I never thought of Italians as mobsters and shows and movies wouldn’t change that. The Italians I grew up with were as absorbed into American life as anyone and mostly from upper middle class families. Their parents were successful executives, professionals, and business owners. It wasn’t until well out of college that I met anyone with any relatives in the mob.
But when I think about it more deeply, I don’t think I’d like it if plays, movies, and TV shows constantly showed Jews as murderers, thugs, and criminals.
And when I think about it even more, I wonder if the federal judge in Illinois who ruled against the Italians would have taken a different side if the play was an accurate depiction of Muslims in America, most of whom morally support terrorists and several of whom have been involved in terrorist plots. Would an Illinois middle school ever consider doing a play called, “Allah Hu Akbar–A Little Jihad Comedy” performed by the Islamofascist Players? Doubtful.
So why is it okay for a middle school to perform such a play defaming Italians, the majority of whom hate the mob and have never had anything to do with it? According to USA Today, federal prosecutors say the mob is almost dead in America, with only about 6 organized crime families left, if even that many. Extremist Islam and terrorist plots by Muslims, on the other hand, are on the rise. And they enjoy a lot of support in the greater so-called moderate Islamic community.
What is a middle school doing having a play about the mob, anyway? Of what educational value is it? Very little if any.
This really isn’t really about free speech. Anyone can perform any play or film any movie or series about Italians and the mob anytime they want across America . . . in the private sector. But, even though free speech laws allow it to, an American public school (which would bow to the whims and objections of most other minorities) has no business featuring–or even sanctioning–such a play and should have had better taste and the class to say no.
Having the right to free speech doesn’t mean not having the right–the responsibility–to exercise restraint sometimes and applying that restraint equally . . . not just when favored, politically correct minorities are involved.
If our public schools are going to bend over backward and be PC ad absurdum to the “Religion of Peace,” why not to Italian-Americans? Either there is free speech for everyone . . . or no-one.
The Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, Illinois–when presented with the idea of showing this play–should have responded, “Fuggedaboutit.”
Tags: America, Batavia, Chicago, Debbie Schlussel Free, federal judge, Illinois, Italy, judge, Rotolo Middle School, The Sopranos, USA Today