Wash Post Theater Review: Pedophile Punishment is Too Harsh

Matt Philbin | November 28, 2022
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Wasn’t it just a few days ago that somebody shot up a gay bar because conservatives are too uptight about kids at drag shows? Aren’t @LibsofTikTok and Tucker Carlson creating a moral panic over nothing, screaming about “grooming” and dirty books in schools? 

Yes. That’s what our betters told us. So it’s kinda funny to come across this November 23 theater review by Peter Marks in The Washington Post. The headline reads “‘Downstate’ is a play about pedophiles. It’s also brilliant.”

Masterful trolling or supreme ironic timing? 

Right at the outset of the review, Marks tells readers to “Take a deep breath and try to ruminate calmly on the position playwright Bruce Norris takes in his scintillating new play, ‘Downstate’: that the punishments inflicted on some pedophiles are so harsh and unrelenting as to be inhumane.”

The playwright, Marks says, “is questioning what degree of compassion should society fairly hold out to those who have served their time for sexual abuse, assault or rape.”

Simple answer: none. Some crimes are so heinous that the law and society should have no compassion for the perpetrators. Whatever compassion individuals can muster for sex abusers is between them and God, but society must draw an unmistakable line at pedophilia. 

According to Marks, “the predators who’ve completed their prison terms are depicted not as monsters but rather as complicated, troubled souls.” 

We learn about what each of them has done, and we are in effect asked to judge for ourselves what magnitude of ongoing torment each deserves. It develops here as an agonizing moral question, one that our retributive correctional culture would rather not have to debate.

But correctional culture does not have to debate it. It must protect others from those who would victimize them. There is no moral question, and to say there is stands reality on its head. As a matter of fact, from Marks’ description, the villain of the play is a former victim who shows up to confront the piano teacher who molested him. 

Related: Part of Your World: Disney Hosts Company Event Featuring a 'Two Spirit' Merman in Drag

“Some theatergoers no doubt will resent that Norris chose to illuminate this delicate subject in a nuanced way that doesn’t jibe with their own undiluted revulsion, Marks writes. “If you suspect you are one of these people, “Downstate” is not for you.

No, I daresay it isn’t. Elite culture has reached a seriously dark place. Remember that next time progressives demand access to our kids.

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