Tarleton State University cancels performance of gay-themed play, citing safety concerns

So much for free expression.

The much-publicized performance of a gay-themed play at Tarleton State University, scheduled for Saturday morning, was canceled Friday night due to safety concerns, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Tarleton State President F. Dominic Dottavio issued a statement earlier Friday calling the play “offensive, crude and irreverent,” but adding that stopping the production would amount to a violation of free expression. However, the university issued a statement later saying the class’s professor canceled the play due to concerns about students’ safety and the need to maintain an orderly academic environment.

Also, Friday, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst issued a statement condemning the play, according to The Texas Tribune. Here’s what Dewhurst said:

“Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech, but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the majority of Americans.

Texans don’t deserve to see their hard-earned tax money used to debase their religion. This lewd display runs completely contrary to the standards of scholastic excellence and common decency that we demand in our publicly-funded institutions for higher learning.”

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—  John Wright

Letter to the editor from the president of Tarleton State University

The president of Tarleton State University sent this letter to the editor clarifying the school’s position on the controversy that has arisen about a class project that involved production of an except of the Terrence McNally play “Corpus Christi.” Click here for original story.

To the Editor:

In the past week, our community has heard and read passionate statements as a result of a student’s decision to present selected material from the play “Corpus Christi.”  The opinions expressed in the emails and phone calls received at Tarleton range from those declaring the play blasphemous and degrading to those stating the need for us to support the freedom of speech rights of the student.   Emotions surrounding the issue were heightened by some misunderstanding about Tarleton’s association with the production.  Please allow me to give some information.

  • The university does not endorse the play.
  • The play is not a University-sponsored production in the Fine Arts series at Tarleton.
  • The play is a project for a class.  It is not intended for the public any more than a student’s math assignment.

—  David Taffet