Chonofsky: Disappointed by Censorship

Source: Wicked Local – By Mark Chonofsky

Lexington —

I am very disappointed with Natalie Cohen and Paul Ash’s censorship of “Columbinus,” a play that fits perfectly into Lexington High School‘s tradition of controversial but socially informative theater. This cowardly decision does nothing but harm the people it is intended to protect.

Lexington High School has staged a long line of edgy theater with administration support. Some excellent student-produced LHS plays over the last two decades have been condemned at a statewide level for their mature and violent content. LHS students have never been psychologically harmed by these productions, which engaged them on an adult level. Students are less protected from graphic material than ever before, and “Columbinus,” which has been performed successfully at numerous high schools, is tame, compared to the Internet and the real world.

School is an ideal safe place to examine school violence and learn about the disturbing realities of life. When students are more than ever exposed to these sorts of weighty issues, we need to examine them openly, not shield students. The administration has indicated that deep intellectual engagement with controversial topics is subject to their veto, which will have a chilling effect on discussion of all kinds of emotionally charged material.

Ash’s failure to do basic fact checking before moving to censor the play feels almost malicious. He made several fundamental errors in understanding the context of the performance. The phone call of a single parent should never result in such hasty action, particularly when it contravenes decades of precedent in LHS culture.

The cancellation of this play degrades a mature drama program that has enjoyed decades of success. Lexington High School has produced multiple high-quality performing artists, in large measure due to the creative freedom they enjoyed as students, and we must fight to protect that legacy.

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