David Dewhurst Condemns Play Featuring Gay Jesus

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has a problem with 26-year old John Otte's schoolwork, and he wants the whole state to know.

For his advanced directing class at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Otte was allowed to select the play of his choice to direct. He chose Texas native Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi, in which Jesus and his disciples are reimagined as gay men in modern-day Texas. In the play, the Jesus figure performs a marriage ceremony for two of his gay disciples and is later crucified under a sign that deems him the "King of Queers."

Of the many student-directed plays that will be put on this weekend at Tarleton State, Otte's has garnered the most attention — much of it negative. Extra security has been called in. The audience restricted to classmates and family members. The curtain time was moved up to the very un-Broadway-like 8 a.m. on Saturday.

And now, Act II: Enter the Politicans.

Says Dewhurst in a statement released this afternoon:

 

Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech, but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the majority of Americans.

Texans don’t deserve to see their hard-earned tax money used to debase their religion. This lewd display runs completely contrary to the standards of scholastic excellence and common decency that we demand in our publicly-funded institutions for higher learning.

Why is the lieutenant governor weighing in? His office says their inboxes filled up to a level that warranted a response. Dewhurst spokesman Rich Parsons says, "Our office has been contacted by a number of people expressing concern and anger and outrage at the use of state resources."

Tarleton State President F.
 Dominic 
Dottavio released a statement making it clear that he sees "no 
artistic 
or 
redeeming
 quality 
in 
the 
work."  He believes it to be "offensive, 
crude, 
and 
irreverent." Yet he defends its right to be performed, recognizing that the performance is a class project, even if it is not endorsed or produced by Tarleton. He explains in a release:

As 
a
 public 
university 
we 
are 
legally 
bound 
to 
allow
 the 
student 
production 
to 
go 
forward. 


We 
have 
had 
many 
conversations 
with 
the 
Office 
of 
General
 Counsel 
for 
The 
Texas 
A&M 
University 
System 
and 
they
 have 
made 
it 
clear 
to 
us 
that 
this 
is 
an
 unambiguous 
freedom 
of 
speech 
(First
 Amendment) 
issue. 

The 
Supreme 
Court 
of 
the 
United 
States 
has
 consistently 
held 
that 
public 
universities 
may 
not 
engage
 in
 the 
sort 
of 
censorship 
that 
prohibiting 
this
 student’s 
project
 would 
involve. 

This 
concept
 was 
reaffirmed
 by
 the 
2008
 Higher 
Education 
Opportunity
 Act 
which
 stressed
 that
 students 
should
 not 
be 
intimidated, 
harassed, 
or 
discouraged
 from
 speaking
 out.

 

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