Nothing pleasant about ‘The Pleasance Theatre’

by Pseud O'Nym

The news that The Pleasance Theatre has cancelled Jerry Sadowitz’s Edinburgh Fringe shows because of complaints from staff and customers, would itself be ironic, were it not for the fact that it comes but days after Salman Rushdie was stabbed when appearing at literary festival. I’m sure everyone reading this knows who Salman Rushdie is, why he had to go into hiding and quite possibly why someone thought it acceptable to try and kill him

But while issuing a fatwa and putting a bounty of $3 million on his head is the sort of thing liberals like to criticise to prove exactly how liberal they are, it seems that if you do the same thing that Rushdie did – offend people – but don’t do it in the right way, then all bets are off. Not that getting cancelled is going to harm Mr S. any. I’m sure tickets for any forthcoming shows will sell out faster than Nick Clegg. Or that as a result of getting cancelled he’ll be forced to live a half life, forever being on his guard, never quite feeling safe.

However, The Pleasance’s director, Anthony Alderson, said: “The Pleasance is a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians’ material.” No, instead they prevent him from performing the material they don’t censor. Carry on!

“While we acknowledge that Jerry Sadowitz has often been controversial, the material presented at his first show is not acceptable and does not align with our values.” We had no idea when we took the booking what type of comedy he performed and we don’t want our customers and more importantly our sponsors to think we are the sort of venue that tolerates tolerance. Well not that kind, anyway.

“This type of material has no place on the festival and the Pleasance will not be presenting his second and final show.” We won’t host him and we dare anyone else too. They won’t, not unless they want the anger of the Twaterrati unleashed on them, that is. We are the arbiters of what is and isn’t permitted, and we have a duty to protect people from themselves

It’s not like anyone just happened to wander past the venue, wondered what was going on, and decided to check it out on the off-chance. Apparently the posters outside the gig warned of there being material which likely to cause offence, and if people still went in, well then it’s their fault they were offended. Most people, if they know him at all, know him from playing ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ in ‘The Shamen’s’ video for their 1993 No.1 of the same name. Which was also banned from Radio One, incidentally.

Both cases represent the same attitude, one of ‘we don’t like it, we’re offended, and what we feel takes priority over everything else’. Admittedly, one is more extreme than the other, but that is what makes the other so insidious, an example of preventing others from making their own minds up, because yours is made up already. But the same basic instinct, the same faux concern and sadly, the same hypocrisy.