Some rather unfortunate events took place last month in the wonderful British city of Birmingham.
A highly controversial play about rape and murder in a Sikh temple was cancelled after a few protesters clashed with police and descended upon the theater that hosted it.
Folks met peacefully before the whole thing went down, but the Sikh leadership emphasized that the show must not go on, and a few members of the largely peaceful crowd made sure it wouldn’t.
The playwright is a woman named Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, and she said she had received threats on her life.
Without seeing the play, I know there have been many productions that also cover the issues that Bhatti brings up–I think this one in particular brought out protests because it was just for shock value–one liberal observer called her portrayal “…cold. It is a badly conceived, badly organised play that is out of context and could have grave consequences for the perception of Sikhs in Britain.” Observer article.
Is there a right way to tackle such issues? Probably. Was she really tackling issues or bringing them up for critical thought? Probably not–I would guess shock value was her primary motive. In this type of thing, we need to think carefully about the lines between free speech, slander, and racism, and decide where to draw them.