An Ideology of Unapologetic Hate

I am writing in response to Tom Provenzano’s review of Celebration Theatre’s production of Sissystrata. Not in response to the critique itself, but to a statement made therein. I am a company member at Celebration, in the cast of Sissystrata, and while I am disappointed that Mr. Provenzano did not connect with our piece, such is the nature of the beast. Theater is a live dialogue, and people often don’t agree.

I am concerned with this line within the review: “Lip-synching drag numbers and lisping limp-wristed stereotypes, worthy of Fred Phelps’ slogan ‘God hates fags,’ abound in this self-mocking production.” I can only assume that Mr. Provenzano and his editors have not actually been to the “reverend” Phelps’ Web site, where the “Perpetual Gospel Memorial to Matthew Shepard” features a picture of Shepard’s face in flames, screaming, with a ticker counting the days he has been in hell. I would also assume that they have not personally witnessed the followers of the Westboro Baptist cult outside funerals of AIDS victims and American soldiers killed in Iraq, berating family and friends of the deceased. Images of this man and his cult shook me to my core as a teenager and galvanized me to fight mindless prejudice. I find it deeply disturbing that anyone, let alone a mainstream publication like L.A. Weekly, would suggest that anything is “worthy of Phelps’ slogan,” which is the marketing catch-phrase for an ideology of unapologetic hate.

I can only think it was ignorance of the effect of Phelps and the pain he has inflicted on so many Americans, gay and straight, that led Mr. Provenzano and his editors to believe the flippant use of such an extreme message was acceptable or appropriate in the context of a theater review. I sincerely hope that in the future more careful consideration will be paid before such statements are made.

C. Pearson

Los Angeles

Theater editor Steven Leigh Morris responds: Both reviewer and editor visited Phelps’ Web site before the review ran. Both agree that the site is appalling, which is why Provenzano employed it as a form of ­deliberate exaggeration.


Fringe Factor

Marc Cooper incorrectly states that “the governor [Sarah Palin] had recently been a member of a fringe party seeking secession from the U.S.” [“Hurricane Sarah,” Sept. 5-11.]

According to Wikipedia and other Internet sites, Palin was never a member but attended one or more meetings of the Alaska Independence Party, one of which was to greet its members when they held their convention in her city while she was mayor. Palin’s husband was a member from 1995 to 2000, according to one source, and for seven years according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mark Weiner

Los Angeles

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