Monday, November 10, 2008

Scott Eckern: Enemy of Freedom, Lover of Bigotry, Death and Hatred

It seems that many people are reporting and/or blogging about the fact that a fellow named Scott Eckern, who is artistic director of California Musical Theatre, which this blog says is "Sacramento’s oldest professional performing arts organization and California’s largest nonprofit musical theatre company, donated $1,000 in support of that state's Proposition 8.

Scott Eckern, you are an enemy of all that is good in America. You deserve not only to be fired, you should be viciously attacked using words and nothing but words by the men and women of the American theatre. And then you should go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under. Slime.

According to the same blog, by the way, Eckern is "obviously" Mormon. Here's his bio, for those who want to have a look. I'm not sure the best thing to do is to attack one religion in this case. It is a question of personal morality and responsibility -- unless we know for sure that the Mormon Church told Eckern personally to donate $1,000, we should focus on the facts. A couple of URLs that I checked do confirm, by the way, that Eckern made this donation. The question now is whether anyone in the industry is going to make something out of this.

The list of the company's board is here. If we were collectively smart, we'd start lobbying those guys ASAP, too.

And here's a much more extensive list of those who contributed to the success of Prop 8.

And apparently the actor Susan Egan is putting out the following letter, which I received via Facebook:

Dear Friends --

I thought you might be interested to know that Scott Eckern, Artsitic Director of California Music Theatre (Sacramento Music Circus) contributed $1000 in support of California's divisive Proposition 8, which eliminates (not just bans) the right for same-sex couples to marry and receive all of the emotional, economic, and social benefits that married couples often take for granted. Mr. Eckern's affiliation with CMT, as well as his title and the amount donated to legislate the lives of others, is public information that can be found at

http://antigayblacklist.com

Marc Shaiman, composer (most notably of "Hairspray", which was produced at CMT last year) has already contacted Sacramento's CMT and expressed his disgust with the idea that a theatrical organization, employing and making money from gay artists and audience members, harbors an executive who uses a portion of his income to publicly support hate legislation (my term). I believe Mr. Shaiman may have told them they would no longer be allowed to produce his work, and has contacted the creators of "Avenue Q" (to be produced in March of '09) to enlighten them.

I am deeply troubled by the news about Scott, as I have worked for and known him since 1993. I find his behavior hypocritical at best and, more likely, distressingly prejudiced. Many of you friends who, like myself, have worked for Scott might be floored to know this news. I think at this point I shall do my best to "out" him and any others like him. Folks who show (and make money) playing one game, but with an inner intolerance that denies everything our industry represents.

I have personally been in contact with Marc Shaiman to confirm all the information. In his words:

"Yes, it's all true! Of course, there is nothing much I can do since they've already done HAIRSPRAY, but the AVE Q guys (at least one of them) may do something, perhaps picket his own show! But, as I hope people realize, it is not really up to a writer to cancel a production that has already been licensed.

What I could do I did, which was to call Mr. Eckern directly and say what I had to say. Reading this past week how people still actually think being gay is a choice (the only choice we make is not to lie about who we are) and that that one line from a beautiful book proves we are sinners (a book that also allows for the stoning of wives and of people who wear two different kinds of fabric at the same time), well, I am starting to feel that the only way to make people change is, I think, to now greet every person I meet and say "Hi, I'm Marc, God made me gay and I think that that He and I are both fabulous!" and leave the rest up to them."

Sacramento Music Circus holds a cherished place in my heart, primarily because of Leland Ball and the inspirational talents he would gather for his productions. I feel the spirit of Leland is lost under Scott's leadership. As a private citizen I choose not to support California Music Theatre while it operates under Mr. Eckern's tenure.

I support Marc Shaiman in his boycott of CMT, and hope others will follow -- as ticket-buyers, writers, musical directors, crew, designers and performers and more.

I feel compelled to write because I have heard from so many beloved friends the last few days. People who are in every way caring and generous citizens. Friends who are for the most part very quiet on the political front, who have had to awaken because of last Tuesday, due to their shock that their lifestyles are not "accepted" by so-called friends!! The irony of electing Obama and Prop 8 passing astounds me.

I am not ordinarily a political fighter, but I do believe in information for all, and let them decide. And more than anything I believe in "holding the space" for what is right.

In support of my gay and lesbian friends I find it a travesty that the entire arts community is not standing in solidarity for equal rights. Shame on Scott.

That our industry should be the first to raise money and awareness for AIDS to the result of awakening a country and world to the issue ... well then, marriage (and every other sort of) equality is a no-brainer ... and a duty and obligation.

I hope with this email to find others to "hold the space" with me .... full equality in marriage rights. If you should feel compelled to pass the information about Scott Eckern on to others .... by all means do.

Hoping for change .... still,

Susan Egan

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31 comments:

Jen Ryan said...

Thanks for posting this.

I just got into a huge row on Facebook with someone who thought protesting the Mormons was idiotic. Um...helloooo..they spearheaded this whole thing...this from an organization that refuses to condemn child brides and bigamy. Nice family values, eh?

(oh, and a quick perusal of the donors reveals such right wingnut stalwarts as Focus on the Family. Thank God these sorts of things are public record)

By the way there is going to be a PEACEFUL protest outside the LDS center on W 65th street on Wednesday at 630pm. I plan to be there!

Zev Valancy said...

May those who supported this reap the benefits of their hateful choices. Is it cognitive dissonance to mention karma here? I hope that what they've done comes back and bites them in the ass in a big way. That's accountability.

And honestly, what kind of rock do you have to live under to work in theatre and give money to anti-gay causes? Have you not noticed who is working with you?

Timothy said...

Proposition 8 and all other amendments like it legalize Gay Apartheid. Anyone who is an accomplice or enabler of these vile unconstitutional and un-Christian "laws" is evil out of negligence, ignorance or pure hatred.

August Schulenburg said...

Jeff Whitty of Avenue Q has his conversation with Scott posted on his website, and it's a very thoughtful response.:
http://www.whitless.com/

Anonymous said...

I applaud Mr. Eckern for his openness to working with, hiring, and accepting those with homosexual lifestyles while still holding true to his moral and political beliefs.

It is bigoted and hateful to target those Mormons. They were a small portion of the millions who voted in favor of proposition 8. How wrong of people to do that. You wouldn't dare target african-americans, or their churches even when 70% of those who voted were in favor of proposition 8.

Don't jump on the bandwagon.

Support Scott Eckern's First Amendment Freedom said...

This whole campaign against Scott is the height of hypocrisy. For those who want to know the truth about Scott Eckern visit supportscotteckern.blogspot.com.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with you people? Who are the ones filled with hate? Lobby your opinions fine. Lobby your beliefs fine. But to protest people who have expressed their right to believe something (even if its wrong) and to destroy their livelihood and their homes?? This blog alone, with the animosity filled postings, makes me want to change my vote. I cannot believe that this blog and this community can breed such hate as you sometimes encounter in your own lives. You are actively condemning an entire religion because some of their members made donations and expressed their opinion. That is free speech. You are attempting to get this man fired for something he believes. Do you think that this man would have fought to get you fired from your job for donating money to gay rights actions or for being gay? I somehow doubt that. I think you seriously should reconsider your actions of "blacklisting" these people because they donated to a cause they thought was right. Gays in California have every right that spouses enjoy except 1; a word. A single word. And for it you are willing to condemn thousands of people for their beliefs because they stood up for something they believe in. I look in their eyes and I see conviction, In your eyes and I see hatred and anger. I don't believe as they do. But based on these actions, I'm almost willing to support them.

Appalled in California

nofreespeechhere said...

Or maybe the heart of the problem is that stereotyping and hatred have emerged within the LGBT movement and are reaching levels of hysteria toward the religiously inclined folks they have vilified.

Kitty is right, this does have more to do with general civil liberties than gay rights.

Remember the Methodist church in New Jersey that lost their non-profit status for withholding one of the their buildings, a sanctuary, from the gay wedding requested for their site.

Remember the father in Massachusetts that spent the night in jail demanding his promised "opt out" rights for his kindergartner.

This is about freedom of speech and freedom to follow your religious conscience within the confines of your own church, and home.

Multiple precedent setting cases have occurred removing rights from those that exercise their conscience. Tolerance now can only be expected if your sexual orientation is at stake, not your religious beliefs.

If only religion were still considered a civil right and private citizens could still voice their opinion without fear. Scott Eckern has experienced something that should never have happened in our country.

One can only hope that some day the LGBT population will learn to tolerate freedom of speech and the constitutionally designed civil right of religion. I have never infringed on others rights to live their lives as they see fit, but please don't ask any church to condone and perform gay marraiges that violate the foundation of their beliefs. Give me a bill expanding civil union benefits and I will be first in line to pass it, as long as it doesn't curtail the freedom of speech of others.

An old saying from the WWII era goes something like this, "Your right to move your fist ends where my nose begins." Please stop swinging your political fists. Religious folks didn't start this fight...we are defending our God-given right to worship.

nofreespeechhere said...

tragic that you are so cowardly that you resort to name calling and filter the comments to only show one side of an issue. The search for real truth died here today.

Anonymous said...

Clyde,

I have known Scott Eckern for over 30 years. He does not have a hateful bone in his body. He exhibits tolerant good will to all those with whom he interacts. Please don't let the heated emotion of the moment overwhelm your good sense. Scott should be free to believe what he may. Upon those beliefs he should be able to act in all ways that are with in the bounds of the law. Do not be part of the job lynching of Scott Eckern. Marcia Harris

Leonard Jacobs said...

All comments have been responded to in a separate post, http://clydefitch.blogspot.com/2008/11/responses-to-comments-on-scott-eckern.html.

Leonard Jacobs said...

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia: Scott Eckern can absolutely believe whatever he likes. Why are you suggesting that no one else can believe what they like? No, the real hypocrite is you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, lets get the torches and pitchforks! I am appalled at the intollerance, and hate speech this one man's donation has caused. The Gay community needs to seperate themselves from the KKK like intimidation and tactics of gay activists who legislate "hate" speech crime, then think they can attack someone for what they believe or do. Gay community, time to thin the herd and denounce hate speech in your own tribe.
So now you MUST be in lock step with all of the gay, bi lesbian tranny lifestyle to be "acceptible" to work in the theater or you will be drummed out of the biz? Sheesh. Sad, people.

Leonard Jacobs said...

If anyone knows about torches and pitchforks and white sheets, it's you, you bigot.

simplybroadway said...

This is not about Scott's right to support a proposition. It's about the fact that he did so aligning California Music Theater (Music Circus) to his plight and religious attitudes. He KNEW he had to list his job on the donation and with that, it slaps all the artists he's worked with that are gay, in the face. If he wanted to do it on his own, on behalf of his family and religion, he could have had his wife make the donation in her name. I don't know what she does for a living, but it's probably not working with very large numbers of gay people. On top of all this, his SISTER is gay! So are we to assume that his sister was as misinformed as he was about Prop 8? Or did he just ignore her position on it? Scott feigns ignorance on what the proposition was really about. What kind of person donates $1000 to a proposition without getting all the facts? He cites watching the commercials which he felt misinformed him...did he only watch the ones that were FOR prop 8 and not the ones AGAINST?

Again, it's not about his freedoms here, it's about how he went about expressing it. It's about his inconsideration of his employer and his colleagues.

One of the founders of "Music Circus" Russell Lewis was one of the kindest, most compassionate and accepting of people that EVER walked this earth. Scott aligning CMT with his bigoted beliefs is a slap in the face of this wonderful man as well. I know that Richard, his son, is just as accepting and loving as Russell was, so the damage continues.

So people can go on until they're blue in the face about poor Scott and his political freedoms, but they readily overlook the real reason that the people, and now the country, are up in arms over this.

This is not a gay issue as much as an issue of respect, human kindness and decency.

Anonymous said...

If the lgbt gestapo tactics forces Scott out, then I will pull my sponsership monies. It is not much. Unfortunately, I will be forced to be cowardly enough to give in to lgbt gestapo and not publicize my company name.

The lgbt thugs have demonized the known people and the unknowns must react with actions such as the "VOTE OF THE PEOPLE' and stopping support for the homosexual charity industries.

The lgbt rely on American charity giving and then react to Americans with the hate and vitriol - so Americans will stop the support anonymously.

Due to lgbt gestapo actions, I dont want my employees to suffer at the hand of the LGBT HATE AND VITRIOL TOWARD FREEDOM OF SPEECH FOR THOSE WHO HAVE OPPOSING OPINIONS ABOUT THEIR LIFESTYLE.

Anonymous said...

As a Californian who voted NO on Prop 8... I hope Scott Eckern sues your pants off for slandering his good name. He's not a politician or public figure, and you can't make comments along these lines without legal consequences. You and your peers are disgusting.

Leonard Jacobs said...

The only Gestapo tactic are the words that come out of your acid mouth and the thoughts that poison your mind. Lifestyle this, you discriminating hate-mongering swine. Death to you.

Leonard Jacobs said...

To the Californian who wants the anti-Scott Eckern crew to be sued: FIRST AMENDMENT, baby. Eckern has a right to say as he pleases and so do I. For the record, I never demanded that he resign and I never demanded that the theatre be boycotted.

Anonymous said...

Jen Ryan said this, "this from an organization that refuses to condemn child brides and bigamy. Nice family values, eh"

She is mistaken. The LDS or Mormon church has no connection to the polygamists today. She is confused Mormonism with an offshoot group that is not recognized by the church. Stop spreading lies.

Anonymous said...

Of course these people have the right to boycott CMT, just as those who learned their consumer dollars went to fund Mormon businesses that supported prop 8 might wish to go to http://www.mormonstockindex.com/ and boycott Mormon-controlled and -owned companies.

People who use the term "the gays" likely don't know anyone gay or lesbian, or don't know they know anyone gay or lesbian. People who say, "I'm losing respect for the gays" for fighting for equality are similarly suspect, and likely are part of that 40% who will never support LGBT equality, just as say, a white supremacist likely does not support interracial marriage and never will. The point is, we are a nation that is founded upon some fundamental ideals, one of which is the rights of the minority shall be protected from the wrath of the majority. The other is that ALL men are created equal, which is both our constitutional belief and scripture.

It's interesting the Mormon church has set up a blog linking to clydefitch blog as "an example of hate." Turning their discrimination into LGBT hate is so absurd, it just might work. Californians ought to remember that the Mormons as a community are fundamentally anti-gay, but they have historically and religiously also been racist. They also are, in pure form, sexist, believing their religion teaches that women should be subjugated. http://www.childbrides.org/abuses.html

Leonard Jacobs said...

Then stop spreading hatred.

Leonard Jacobs said...

Then stop spreading hatred.

Marie Van Heusen said...

Wow, Leonard Jacobs. Do you know how to defend your own thoughts, or do you just like to play the game. Every comment you post is just a version of "I know you are, but what am I?" And honestly: how can you accuse people of being hate-mongering swine in one sentence, and then say "Death to you" in the next? Really--how do you justify that?You do such a disservice to this cause. And by the way, people: the last time artists were forced out of the industry because of their personal convictions, we were in the McCarthy era. Too bad Arthur Miller isn't alive to write another play about this mess...

Leonard Jacobs said...

Marie, please take a Tylenol for that ache in your back from having to twist around my thoughts and words so much. The pain must be awful for you.

Krystal Arangua said...

Thank you Mr. Jacobs for taking the time to offer your opinion on the hottest topic in the theatre blogosphere, which is Scott Eckern's donation in support of Proposition 8. Many of Eckern's colleagues have taken major offense to his actions, but it is always helpful to have an outside perspective from a party who is not directly involved and your blog offers just that. While a bit harsh, I most definitely appreciate your candor when you write, "Scott Eckern, you are an enemy of all that is good in America," but I wonder if he really deserves to lose his job? While I do not agree with Mr. Eckern on Proposition 8, I must question whether or not the pushing out of Eckern contradicts everything that Prop. 8 protesters stand for. As an American, Scott Eckern has the right to his own political leanings. Sure, he probably should have picked a different industry other than theatre as home to his career, but it is unconstitutional to push him out. As far as him being Mormon, I appreciate you bringing that up, because as most are well aware, the donations of the Mormon Church are a large part of why Prop. 8 was able to pass. Even though there is no fact to back it up, I am sure that the Church, directly or indirectly, asked its followers to donate to the cause. Scott Eckern did and he got caught, but where is the Church now? How sad that Eckern has to be the poster boy for hate and his spiritual leaders are not there to back him up. Well, after all is said and done, Eckern is jobless now, so maybe some LDS branch will offer him a job overseeing the Christmas musical. Wait, do they even have Christmas? Let's hope so, because after such a violent response from the mainstream theatre world, Baby Jesus is really Eckern's only hope at this point.

Leonard Jacobs said...

Dear Krystal,

I wanted to thank you for posting your comment on my blog as well as yours. I also wanted to address a couple of things you wrote, to set the record straight.

I did say that Scott ought to be fired. And I'm glad he resigned. But that's not to say his loss of a job was the result of exercising his freedom of speech, to which he is naturally entitled. No, he had to resign because he donated that $1,000 in the name of his company -- implying, by doing so, that he was speaking for the company itself with that donation.

As you may know, nonprofits are barred legally from engaging in political activities except in very tiny percentages of annual budgets. Even if the $1,000 should fall under that rubric, clearly Eckern did not have the blessing and approval of the board of his company or its senior leadership.

There's something else here, too. I am sick and tired of the right saying whatever they wish about gays and gay rights, deftly using whatever code words and slurs and slang terms and points of derision and hate speech they can summon up from their wellspring of loathing and viciousness toward gay Americans. Even more to the point, I am sick and tired of the idea that the ultra far right can use such words and slurs and terms and points and hate speech thinking that the the other side shall not respond or shall not employ the same tactics in their response.

It's really rather simple, actually: We are Israel. They hit us, we hit them back harder and more memorably, with increasing intensity, and unceasingly, and in the public square, and always within the letter and spirit of the law.

We're on the right side of history. They're on the side of those prostrating themselves at the altar of hate, discrimination and bigotry.

Let's be honest here: the right thinks nothing of calling for the resignations of people in public or semi-public life who do things or support causes that get them in a lather. It all goes back to Lee Atwater and the politics of personal destruction. Didn't we elect the first President Bush because his campaign lied about Michael Dukakis' position on the death penalty and furloughs?

These bastards on the right will pay any price, invent any lie, distort any truth and twist any fact to advance their nefarious agenda. I'm sorry Mr. Eckern had to resign, but if this is going to be perverted into some freedom of speech issue, why aren't the free- speech lovers asking why he simply didn't write a check out in his own name, not attached directly to the name of a theatre employing gays and presenting musical theatre written by gays?

Also, Eckern didn't understand the proposition as written? If you do follow my blog, you'll notice that I posted the full text of the Proposition as written. If there's anything unclear about it, I've yet to hear what it is. Eckern's disingenuosity is unfortunate.

Bottom line: Eckern overreached and got caught. And now the right has been given a taste of its own medicine, one I hope they dislike as much as the left does.

Do two wrongs make a right? Well, no, probably not. But it's time the forces of good made their point known to the forces of not-good -- that our side will reply forcefully, forthrightly, legally and, as I say, memorably, any time they push their agenda of boiling, lacerating hatred. I will protect my country from them -- and I will protect the separate of church and state -- until I am in my grave. And knowing the religious right, they're probably plotting my death right now.

With apologies for length and, in certain sentence, tone -- LJ

Jack57 said...

Just a quick thanks to who ever put up the anti gay blacklist. Now I know who I will support from now on. Thank God for people like Scott who had the courage to standup and vote their consience. I now must stand up and do business with those who voted and supported prop 8 God Bless all of you for taking a stand for good. As to you Leonard I feel sorry for you, you must be so miserable and as each day passes it must get worse and worse for you. My prayer for you is that you and others like you will wake up and see the light before it is to late. May God watch over you.

Leonard Jacobs said...

My prayer for you, wack Jack, is that when God smites you with his wisdom and smacks you across the face hard enough to make you see what a hate-mongering wretch you are, you fall to your knees and ask for forgiveness for ever having treated your fellow man with such acid cruelty -- and for doing it so gleefully.

Anonymous said...

Scott Eckern is a slimeball. Not only did he vote Yes on Proposition 8, demoting his fellow co-workers who supported his lofty position and creative endeavors to second class citizens, he was willing to have an extra-marital affair with one of his leading ladies who was engaged and had published the announcement of her engagement in a show program. Well, as it turns out, that marriage didn't happen either. These actions from a supposedly devout, God-fearing man who's married himself and supposedly believes so whole-heartedly in the sanctity of marriage (for heterosexuals anyway).

Anonymous said...
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