- How an 11-Foot-Tall 3-D Printer Is Helping to Create a Community – The New York Times (And an alternative link, although the fancy photo intro won’t work there.)
Printing out small but solid houses to be affordable housing in Mexico. Interesting!
- She Supported Her Child Being Trans. So They Were Separated.
This is fucking enraging – and is where the campaign against best-practice medical treatment for trans kids leads. “A 2019 Family Court Review analysis of ten cases involving mothers who affirmed their child’s nonconforming identity found that, in four of the cases, mothers lost physical or legal custody of their children.”
- A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin online at RentAHitman.com. Now, she’s going to prison. – The Washington Post
“The bogus website has led to the conviction of multiple people who tried to hire professional killers online…. he’s still a little dumbfounded people don’t realize his site is bogus.” (The site itself is pretty funny.)
- Dear Isis: An open letter from Gabrielle Union apologizing to her “Bring It On” character.
- Lucky, Alice Sebold’s memoir about her rape, is even more brutal to read now that Anthony Broadwater has been exonerated.
/”…it’s not the responsibility of a traumatized rape victim to fairly investigate and prosecute the person who assaulted her. That is the duty of the police and prosecutors, who failed both Sebold and Broadwater at every stage, from the moment she first reported the crime to the moment he was convicted.”
- The ugly origins of the “War on Christmas”
“The so-called “War on Christmas” began more than a century ago. Remember Henry Ford?”
- Workers Are Using ‘Mouse Movers’ So They Can Use the Bathroom in Peace
I was very confused by this headline until I realized they meant computer mice.
- The Troubling Obsession With Political “Tribalism” | The New Republic
- Liberals Never Cared About Substantive Criminal Justice Reform, They Just Liked Slogans
“No matter how many charts and graphs wonks throw at you, remember that the U.S. is already the most incarcerated population on Earth and continues to have one of the highest crime rates among rich countries, including, by far, the highest homicide rate. “
- The Great ‘West Side Story’ Debate – The New York Times (And an alternate link.)
A roundtable-style discussion of West Side Story, focusing on how the musical depicts Puerto Ricans. (This was conducted prior to the new movie’s release.)
- Where Is The Comma In “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” Supposed To Go? – YouTube
A short (2 minutes 45 seconds), funny video.
- Lies, Damn Lies and ‘Self-Censorship’ Statistics
“Another pretended to find that 80% of college students were self-censoring but only got to that figure by counting up everyone who didn’t answer that they had literally never had an opinion they didn’t express.”
- The Conditional Be in African-American English
I hadn’t known about the “conditional be,” but it makes a lot of sense. “She showed the kids a picture in which Cookie Monster is sick in bed with no cookies while Elmo stands nearby eating cookies. When she asked, “Who be eating cookies?” white kids tended to point to Elmo while black kids chose Cookie Monster. “But,” Jackson relates, “when I asked, ‘Who is eating cookies?’ the black kids understood that it was Elmo and that it was not the same.”
- Saving Democracy Will Require Institutional and Civil Resistance at All Levels | Washington Monthly
“Blue America needs to start thinking about and planning for what “Break glass in case of emergency” measures look like—because it’s more likely a matter of when, not if. It not only can happen here; it probably will happen here.” I was disappointed that the article didn’t actually do any of the thinking of what the measures “look like” it calls for?
- Has Sexual Harassment at Work Decreased Since #MeToo?
A before-and-after survey suggests that workplace sexual harassment has decreased, but other forms of workplace misogyny may have increased.
- Bros., Lecce: We Eat at The Worst Michelin Starred Restaurant, Ever
“It’s as though someone had read about food and restaurants, but had never experienced either, and this was their attempt to recreate it.” The highlight, I think, was a foam served in a plaster model of the chef’s open mouth, with no utensils; you’re supposed to lick the foam out.
- And then scroll to the bottom of this page to read the chef’s response, which includes asking “what is food?”
- Dollar Street.
Fascinating website, using thousands of photos to show what actual daily life looks like for people on different incomes in different parts of the world. You can pick a family and go in depth on their lifestyle, or pick a feature – “what do kids’ toys look like?” – and look at that feature across many families. Very interesting to just click around in.
- What Philadelphia Reveals About America’s Homicide Surge — ProPublica
Extremely good, but a long read.
- The Best Obituary I’ll Read All Year Probably – Fayetteville Observer
“A plus-sized Jewish lady redneck died in El Paso on Saturday…”
- We Need to Pack the Supreme Court Now | Time (And an alternate link.)
“I spent the last seven months on President Biden’s Supreme Court commission, talking, listening, and sometimes arguing with experts from a variety of legal backgrounds—activists, professors, and former judges. I went into the process thinking that the system was working but that improvements were possible. I came out scared.”
- Texas AG Paxton’s $2.2M voter fraud unit closed three cases in 2021. GOP lawmakers still boosted its budget.
It’s only the taxpayer’s money, after all, why not spend millions of dollars on a politically beneficial snipe hunt?
- Even on U.S. Campuses, China Cracks Down on Students Who Speak Out — ProPublica
Horrifying. ““They told us to make you stop or we are all in trouble,” his parents said. Then other Chinese students at Purdue began hounding him, calling him a CIA agent and threatening to report him to the embassy and the MSS.”
- The art of Aphantasia: how “mind blind” artists create without being able to visualise
I also have aphantasia, and found Glen Keane’s description of how he draws without having a “mind’s eye” to be very accurate. (Although sadly, I don’t draw nearly as well as Keane.)
- Photos by Jessica Favaro and jean wimmerlin on Unsplash.
Cartoon: Rationing Health Care
Cartoon: Media-Man To The Rescue!
Cartoon: The Transphobe Bait and Switch (aka The Transphobe Motte and Bailey)
Cartoon: Being Foxy About Vaccines
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I heartily endorse #11. Comedy gold.
Happy 2022 to everyone reading!
What about the illiterate? Seems kind of elitist to me.
And back atcha.
#11 was great stuff! I noticed that he trimmed his beard differently for each of the 4 tracks he sang.
It will be interesting to see what the results of this investigation are.
Meanwhile, a click on the link given in #23 only provides an image, not a story/article. The correct link is https://www.propublica.org/article/even-on-us-campuses-china-cracks-down-on-students-who-speak-out .
From the article:
Brandeis and Harvard have a history of allowing “hecklers veto” to disrupt and shut down the speech of people who don’t toe the leftist line. I wonder in this case why they do not take action. Is it because they favor Communism and don’t want people to speak out against it? Is it because they don’t want to lose the tuition and other money that comes from Chinese students and researchers? Do they have investments in Chinese interests? Or is there some other reason? Has anyone asked these questions and gotten a response? What accountability is there for this kind of behavior on the part of these schools’ administrations?
Just The News doesn’t see like a particularly reliable source to me. But I’m a radical communist, or so I’m told.
It promotes conspiracy theories? Say it ain’t so, Joe!
What do you think the answers to these questions are, Ron? Is Harvard, in your opinion, pro-communist?
I initially found the juxtaposition of Ron’s concerns @5 and @6 to be quite odd.
@5 – There have been at least 63 court caes brought by Donald Trump and his followers surrounding the 2020 elections. They have lost them all. True the vote raised allegations similar to those outlined in your article in September, but ultimately refused to provide the evidence that they claimed to have. They re-raised these claims in November, but are still refusing to identify their witnesses. source This is all part of Trump’s Big Lie, designed to undermine confidence in our elections.
The events described @6, on the other hand, are genuinely concerning, and I share your interest. I went to a lecture, delivered in Chinese with an English translator, on desertification in China in 2000 at Washington University in St. Louis. At one point, the speaker spoke at considerable length without stopping for the translator. It was very odd, breaking their previous rhythm. So, maybe two paragraphs when the previous rhythm had been sentence by sentence. There was then a dialogue between the speaker and the translator in Chinese. The translator then simply said “Professor X’s research was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution” So, this is nothing new, although it might be getting worse.
But, please, Ron, it is clearly related to money – a combination of student tuition and investments. I don’t know what is more ridiculous, the notion that Harvard and Brandies are somehow leftist, or that the modern left is pro-China at all. The idea that U.S. left is at all sympathetic to China is right wing propaganda. The modern left’s foreign model is Sweeden, not China.
On an even more serious note…
Is it okay for commenters to be dropping conspiracy theory/disinformation here? It really makes it difficult for me to remain civil when I notice that happening.
I secondd JOS’s concern. From Reuters:
Spreading the Big Lie has consequences…for innocent people. Unfortunately, it generally does not have consequences for people making death threats against public officials. It seems that law enforcement is on the side of Trump loyalists.
How is stating that Georgia is opening an investigation into possible illegal ballot harvesting in the 2020 election – and giving the details on the allegations that investigation is based on – disinformation? That’s not disinformation, it is in fact happening. Now, it may well be that the investigation will find the allegations baseless. We’ll see. But so far there are no findings at all, and to say that it’s disinformation is judging the process and findings of the investigation before it’s actually performed. I think that the fact that such an investigation is being opened up, especially by someone who actually rejected Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud, is worth both knowing and following.
That would be my guess too. But I’d rather not guess. I’d like to see Harvard officials sitting in front of a Congressional committee under oath to explain to the public at large as how they are selling out their students, the principles of academic freedom and scholarship, the concepts of the First Amendment and any pretenses of moral leadership to the Chinese government, as well as how they can on that basis still justly be considered an elite educational establishment. What I’d also like to see is for Federal funds to be withheld from any college or university that does not sign onto and actually enforce the free speech principles generally known as the Chicago Statement (a link to the .pdf to be found here), and for all State legislatures to do the same with any State funding. Unfortunately that would require a President and Congress committed to actually upholding their oaths to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. So I have little hope of that until at least 2024.
The fact that it’s a partisan investigation based on lies supporting the Big Lie is how it’s disinformation. Just the same way that Ninja Warriors “audit” was disinformation. True the Vote is one of the far right orgs promoting the big lie. We know that they’re lying or they would have revealed their claimed evidence in court sometime in the past year and a quarter.
What you’re doing is spreading propaganda. I’m a little surprised that you can’t see that, although I suppose I shouldn’t be.
It’s also weird that a quick google search reveals no independent confirmation of justthenews.com’s claims. There is one mainstream article that sites “just the news” and quoting it.
The news about the Fulton County prosecutor getting ready to make a determination on whether or not Dollar Store Mussolini and other seditious Republicans committed crimes when pushing the Big Lie is, however, independently reported by several mainstream news organizations. I wonder if the timing of Just the News’ vomit of Big Lie propaganda about the very same county is just a coincidence or if it’s a concerted effort to bury the real news in the election crimes in Georgia story.
It’s also easy to find evidence that Law Enforcement has found True the Vote’s claims to be lies. But the GOP, which really, really respects Law Enforcement, has chosen to ignore their own LE. I wonder why that is.
Spreading disinformation is what spreading Just the News’ and True the Vote’s propaganda is.
I’ll stop here and leave on this note – it is really hard to maintain civility in the face of this kind of spread of disinformation.
“the notion that Harvard and Brandies [sp] are somehow leftist,
Nice editing! You’ve clipped it down so it looks like the person is denying that Harvard or Brandeis are leftist in any sense, including the soft-left, American “liberal” sense. That would be a hard assertion to defend. However, the original context was Harvard and Brandeis’ putative allegiance to and advocacy of Chinese style communism – a context that you introduced, which really makes it hard to view your selective editing as a genuine misunderstanding.
It’s especially galling because you often voice disappointment that others don’t engage with your statements and arguments as holistically as you would like.
I do confess to being facetious about the Communism bit. I wouldn’t seriously expect them to answer “Yes!” to that question. I would like them pinned down on the investments and other monetary issues, though. They are a private institution, but they take plenty of Federal money so they should be accountable to the public on those matters just as they are on others. Transparency and openness and all that. And while I again seriously doubt there are any significant supporters of Communism there, I’d love to see a more general investigation into the lack of political diversity in their faculty and administration and how influences their financial and free speech policies. That includes my own alma mater as well; they are now embroiled in a price-fixing lawsuit along with Harvard and other highly selective schools.
Thanks for pointing this out. Fixed now!
The part in bold is where you go wrong. Per my link @9 above, this particular election has been audited three times already, and the specific allegations in the case you’re interested in were thrown out for lack of evidence back in September. More broadly speaking, there has been a avalanch of false allegations of fraud in the 2020 election disproven over and over again in court (at least 63 cases, per my link @9). Why in the world should anyone think this case is any different? There was no election fraud in 2020 on a scale that would overturn the results of the 2020 election. Biden is the legitimate president. The repeated false accusations are undermining our democracy, as they were designed to do.
So, why is Raffensperger investigating now? Per my link @11, election officials are under tremendous pressure to support the big lie, from primary challenges, to threats of violence against themselves and their families. Raffensperger is facing both.
That sounds like a McCarthyite fishing expedition that would chill free speech, not encourage it. How about an investigation of the lack of political diversity in law enforcement and the military? There’s a pretty strong right-wing bias there. Do not quote this as a serious suggestion. It is not. We’ve got enough to be getting on with figuring out how to hold individual police accountable when they actually commit crimes or have demonstrable ties to domestic terrorist groups.
I don’t think there’s a lack of political diversity on U.S. campuses. I think most campuses do accept conservative voices. Even Berkeley has the occasional John Yoo on the faculty. Moreover, the frequent protests against conservative speakers wouldn’t happen if conservatives weren’t frequently invited to speak. To the degree that there is leftward tilt among university faculty (accepted) and administrators (more doubtful), it is because certain institutional structures and goals fit better with certain political orientations. Law enforcement and the military tend to attract law and order conservatives. Wall Street and Silicon Valley tend to attract libertarians who want to make a lot of money. Universities attract liberals and socialists who want to be able to pursue their intellectual and/or artistic interests on their own terms and are willing to accept lower wages in exchange for academic freedom. You’re never going to get a lot of conservatives choosing to compete for a place in institutions with those values, especially considering how uncertain the job market is. A more politically conservative scientist, for example, will be more likely to align themselves with more structured and lucrative gigs in industry. And, insofar as the far left has a presence on campuses, most groups are dominated by students and outside activists. I don’t think communist or anarchist faculty are any more common in universities than Nazis and white supremacists are in police forces. They are certainly far less alarming.
Great comments Kate!
Because you omitted the extremely important context that they haven’t been able to produce the evidence they claim to have. At best, you were naively spreading lies, without first checking for updates on a months-old story; at worst, you were intentionally introducing a deceptive argument to this forum.
If someone lies forty times, and is proven wrong each time, the 41st claim should not be taken at face value. Pretending that new unproven claims of voter fraud are serious, without mentioning the context, is just perpetuating a lie.
Over the years, you’ve introduced claim after claim after claim about allegations of large-scale voting fraud by Democrats. In every single case, it’s turned out to be unsupported nonsense. It would be good of you to acknowledge it this time.
Regarding “ballot-harvesting,” is there any proof that there’s been an actual problem of people faking votes by collecting more than a single ballot to return? Even True the Vote “does not allege the ballots delivered by couriers were fraudulent.” But if the ballots are genuine, what is the problem?
I could see being made nervous by the thought of one person or org collecting tens of thousands of ballots. But how would that require this extreme law – in which if I’m walking to the post office, and my friend says “hey, drop this in the mailbox for me?” regarding her ballot, and I did it, I’ve now committed a crime?
This seems to be yet another arbitrary rule made up by anti-democracy Republicans who know they have a better shot at winning the harder they make it to vote. Even better, from the GOP point of view, 10 percent of white households vs 27 percent of African American households are carless, so this law is more likely to be a barrier for Black than white voters.
And while I again seriously doubt that RonF is a fascist, I’d love to see a more general investigation into the lack of political diversity in his news and opinion sources and how that influences his politics.
“They are a private institution, but they take plenty of Federal money”
If accepting federal funds meant organisations were required to submit to the kind of government auditing of their ideological tone that you are advocating for universities… I mean the implications are so obviously adverse to your political philosophy, Ron, that I won’t patronise you by spelling them out.
That’s a really odd way of saying “other people speaking.” That’s all so-called ‘heckling’ is: speech. Harvard can invite someone to speak on-campus, and other people including students can speak in disagreement.
True unrestricted free speech involves everyone trying to shout over each other. What you are asking for is for one person (an invited speaker) to be given a special right to speak while requiring that everyone else be censored from voicing their views. Your professed support of “free speach” is an utterly transparent lie.
In some venues, the management can set the rules, and I think it’s fair if the management wants to have a “don’t interrupt or you could get thrown out” rule.
But I also think that it’s fair if the management wants to have a more libertarian free-for-all rule.
Or, as many places do in effect, something inbetween, where incessant interruptions and noise will eventually lead to people being thrown out, but yelling a comment, criticism, or question won’t.
The third is my preferred option, but I don’t see any of these options as anti-free-speech.
(Also, I’m not sure that Harvard has ever had a “hecklers veto” that wasn’t responded to by the administration in some way. I looked a little, and all I found was a case of protestors wanting Harvard to divest interrupting an unrelated speech by Harvard’s president, which isn’t really the same as what Ron claimed – whether the protestors agreed or disagreed with the speech was irrelevant, they were just protesting Harvard itself. But it was only a brief search, so maybe I missed something).
” I think it’s fair if the management wants to have a “don’t interrupt or you could get thrown out” rule.”
I think it has to be put in context. If, for example, somebody is interrupting somebody’s hate speech, the person interrupting shouldn’t be thrown out, indeed they should be praised and encouraged.
I don’t like it when conservative venues remove people for interrupting pro-abortion speakers or anti-feminist speakers, for example. If people want to say horrible, hateful things, they have to live with the consequences, and it’s not fair to shield them from that.
Yay for the latest SuperButch!
Thanks! SuperButch is honestly my favorite of all the projects I’m working on. (As well as the least remunerative!)
What happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object?
1. Amp decided to sign off Twitter for a while to get some work done.
2. A school board decided to remove the Holocaust-themed graphic novel Maus from its curriculum, putatively because the book contains naughty words and a graphic depiction of a naked … mouse. Author Art Spiegelman said he got the impression that the school board members were asking, “Why can’t they teach a nicer Holocaust?”
I predict that at least one of these decisions will not last long.
Stumbled on this article about memory that touches on aphantasia and thought some here might be interested since we have discussed that before.
Can we do a deal combining Voter ID with automatic voter registration?
To register to vote, you gotta demonstrate your identity. Is it so bad to ask people to demonstrate their identity each time they vote? I’m not talking about requiring some specific, new form of ID; just requiring whatever your state currently requires in order to register (or perhaps the methods for documenting identity set forth in the pending Freedom to Vote Act).
But now that we acknowledge the importance of this ritual, can we not also acknowledge that each time a person documents their identity to [state?] government, they are automatically registered to vote (unless they opt out)?
Would you support legislation combining these components?
But can we reconcile voter ID requirements with vote-by-mail?
Ok, maybe we need to retool this….
NYT: Yes, Some Musicals Are Unwoke. That’s Not a Writ to Rewrite Them.
nr @33 – I almost always disagree with John McWorther’s views on “wokeness” (as he would put it), but I usually find his presentation of his ideas quite easy to follow. But the article you link just made no sense to me. He seems to be reviewing musicals he hasn’t watched based on statements by the directors, and saying that because they are taking political stances then their art is going to be crap?
Also, with specific reference to your quote – for some reason casting a thin actress in a role written for a fat actress is an example of “wokeness”?
If McWorther can review the quality of plays he hasn’t seen than I can review his state of mind despite my lack of knowledge on what’s going on through his head, and conclude that he needed to write another anti-“woke” screed but didn’t have anything of substance to actually complain about so he made something up.
There has never been a time when new major productions of musicals didn’t include some changes. The 1955 (I think? Sometime during the 50s) movie of Guys and Dolls, which came out not that long after the Broadway show, included a lot of rewriting to take advantage of Frank Sinatra being a much better singer than the actor who played the part on Broadway – including taking out songs and putting in new ones, and big rewrites to the book, including changing the ending (although both endings wound up as “both couples got married and were happy”).
Even without changing a word of the script, the meaning of a musical can change a lot through how it’s presented and what’s emphasized. The most recent Broadway “My Fair Lady” didn’t change the words of the ending, but had Eliza turn away from Higgens and walk away at the end – a very significant change which suggested that Eliza had grown beyond Higgens.
The musical “Anything Goes” ends with a completely story-irrelevant bit where white characters dress up in yellowface and pretend to be “Chinese,” or rather, a 1934 racist’s idea of how Chinese people behave. It’s completely gratuitous racism. I haven’t seen the most recent London revival yet, but I certainly hope they rewrote or at least found a way to restage that ending.
Movies are dead – you create them once and that’s it, it never changes. (Unless you’re George Lucas). One strength of theater is that it’s alive – constantly changing and being rethought in new productions, for better or for worse. McWhorter doesn’t seem to get that.
Finally, I totally agree with Eytan – casting a thin actress as a fat character isn’t “woke” at all. I love Encores!, but that was an asshole move on their part.
1. I have not made John McWhorter one of my regular go-to reads. And I gotta say, this column does not prompt me to change that pattern. Mainly, I was attracted by the title: “Yes, Some Musicals Are Unwoke. That’s Not a Writ to Rewrite Them.”
2. While this title seemed well designed as click-bait, I don’t know that it seemed well matched to what McWhorter had to say. Also, I don’t know whether McWhorter writes his own titles. Finally, I couldn’t quite catch the thread of McWhorter’s message, so I have sympathy for whoever had the job of trying to craft a title.
3. Also, when McWhorter talks about older musicals being “unwoke,” I expected him to be talking about musicals from the 1940s. Or even Gilbert & Sullivan. But raising objections to altering the classical works of … 1983? Seriously?
4. In any event, I wrote my comment solely to have the opportunity to respond to the title, even if McWhorter never wrote it. Sure, Amp beat me to it, but I’ll say it anyway: YES IT IS A WRIT TO REWRITE THEM.
First, the idea that there exists one, authentic version of a commercial stage production is pretty much a myth. Commercial stage productions are in a state of constant evolution, responding to critics, the strengths and weaknesses of available performers, stage constraints as a show tours, etc.
Second, regardless of what anyone thinks about authenticity, commercial theater is a BUSINESS. Directors and producers are going to do what they think will make money. People who own the rights to a show have the right to refuse to permit alternations; if they choose to surrender those rights, then what business is it of mine or McWhorter how “inauthentic” the show becomes?
Third, I’m a hypocrite—so now I’m going to take back what I said in “Second.” It is my understanding that when theaters acquire the rights to perform shows, they typically sign a document declaring that they will not deviate from the script in any way. And they then proceed to deviate from the script in a million different ways. So even when people who own the rights to shows insist that people not make changes, we ignore’em. And they know we do. I suspect the owners mostly need a method to distance themselves from any production that becomes too outrageous.
And why do we do this? Because many old musicals are GOLD—but gold is often packed in with a certain amount of sludge. So where we can, we scrape off the sludge. If we didn’t, the gold would simply be abandoned.
I know that many people have more … refined … sensibilities than I. Yul Brenner, born in Russia, achieved musical fame portraying the King of Siam. Zero Mostel, born in the US, achieved musical fame portraying someone from Russia. While I saw their performances solely on film, I still loved them. It saddens me to imagine that future generations would deny themselves the opportunities to see these performances due to changing mores—and it would sadden me more to imagine that their performances would so taint the productions in the eyes of contemporary viewers as to render the shows toxic to contemporary performers. So I vote for making whatever changes current norms require to keep these works alive—authenticity be damned. If those norms require a favorite song to be cut, so be it; future generations might choose to restore that song in future productions, but only if the production is still alive in the public consciousness.
Finally—I write song parodies for a hobby. And it has become increasingly apparent that ever fewer people recognize the songs I parody. I guess I should be glad that Barney came along to teach “The Great American Songbook” to another generation—but that ended in 2010. So when I write lyrics to “I’ve Got a Little List,” will anyone get the reference? Or “Ta Ra Ra Boom Dee Ay”? “Captain Spalding”? “Baby Got Back”?
That’s enough for tonight. Now all you kids get off my lawn.
Unless you’re talking about Mostel’s performance at the 1965 Tony Awards, you didn’t see Mostel play Tevye on film – Topol played Tevye in the movie. (Topol is Israeli.)
Ha! I stand corrected.
It depends. When you license the play from Samuel French or whoever, your license says you may not make changes without written permission. How strict or free the copyright holder (not the licensing agency) is re: changes can vary wildly. Some of them are like “Cut Act III and replace it with a dance sequence? Sure, why not?” Whereas others are like “You may NOT cut the word “but” from the first line of Act 1, Scene 2, and having only one rather than two non-speaking guards is RIGHT OUT.”
So any changes desired by the director have to be put into writing and submitted as a request to the publisher, who then runs them by the copyright holder. When I was in theatre full-time, I knew who was famously impossible re: any requests, and who was famously generous, but my brain has lost those anecdotes, apparently, and Google is refusing to be helpful. Which is really to say: It’s absolutely a misunderstanding to say that directors license a play as-is and then “deviate in a million ways” which are then “ignored” by the rights-holders. Theatre journalism abounds with stories of everything from kids’ theatre camps to religious high schools all the way up to professional productions having their licenses to produce a show pulled, and in some cases even being ordered to pay monetary damages, for making unauthorized changes to scripts.
So I feel fairly safe stating with 99.9999% certainty that in the case of all the productions McWhorter is decrying, the author or the author’s estate has signed off on the changes made by the directors. Meaning, they were willing to tolerate the cuts or substitutions – and in some cases, the author (or librettist, in the case of a musical) may even have written material for those changes themselves, especially with the more contemporary scripts.