Student Chris Lee wrote and staged “Passion of the Musical,” a musical parody of the final days of Jesus Christ, on campus in April.
The play includes racial epithets, ethnic stereotypes and irreverent jokes about religion. Lee likens it to “South Park” or “Chapelle’s Show,” two popular, boundary-pushing television shows.
“My purpose was to create something so offensive it couldn’t be offensive,” Lee said.
The play included a song called “I Will Always Hate Jews,” to the tune of “I Will Always Love You,” as well as a scene with Jesus as a zombie, and one with Lucifer singing “Hell is So Sweet.”
A group of Mormons picketed outside; a second group of black students, with tickets bought for them by the university’s Office of Campus Involvement, attended the final performance.
FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) reports:
During the play, a group of 40 student protestors repeatedly stood up, shouted about being offended, and verbally threatened audience members and the cast.
. . . The disruptions were so severe that at one point, Lee requested that campus security remove the hecklers from the audience. Campus security refused, instead asking Lee (who is African American) to censor part of his production by changing the word “black” to “blank” in the satirical song “I Will Do Anything for God, But I Won’t Act Black” in order “to avoid a possible riot or physical harm.”
. . . Washington State President V. Lane Rawlins was quoted in the campus paper as saying that the protestors “exercised their rights of free speech in a very responsible manner by letting the writer and players know exactly how they felt.”
A May 13 report by the university’s Center for Human Rights offers an Orwellian analysis: Lee is to blame for provoking the audience, in part by the “affront” and “challenge” of incorporating their manifesto into the dialogue between God and Lucifer. He reacted to the protesters, creating “the qualities of a public forum,” so hecklers had a right to stand up and yell during the performance. The fact that black students think Lee is a “traitor” to his race is an “important contextual factor,” though the official concedes Lee feels offended by the notion that others can define how he may behave as a black man. Read the report. (It’s a pdf file I’m afraid.) It’s chilling.