Truth Is Not Subjective
A play about events in Ferguson ruffles leftist feathers.
Conservative Los Angeles filmmaker, journalist and playwright Phelim McAleer has provided a great deal of insight into the denialism that forms the heart of the progressive mindset.
Last year, McAleer penned “Ferguson,” a play about the deadly confrontation between police officer Darren Wilson and teenager Michael Brown. As stated on the play’s website, “The purpose of FERGUSON is to reveal the truth about what really happened on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, MO and to look at why and how the Grand Jury came to the decision they did.”
Moreover, in an industry currently roiled by a lack of diversity, it was a play “that offered ten roles for black men and women and even three significant roles for black women over 40 — which everyone agrees can be a career death zone for women (of all races),” McAleer explained in a recent editorial for The Daily Wire.
The device McAleer used to construct the play is something called “verbatim theater,” meaning the entire drama was constructed from the exact words spoken by those interviewed about a particular event or topic. McAleer revealed exactly what that meant in this case, stating “this was to be no whitesplaining of the issue. I wrote, or rather curated, the play only using actual Grand Jury testimony of witnesses (most of them black). I didn’t change their testimony at all. Not a paragraph, word or comma was added. It was to be a minute by minute account by multiple eyewitnesses of the last hours of Michael Brown’s life.”
An initially “enthusiastic” cast of 13 signed up for the staged reading over four nights at the Odyssey Theater in Santa Monica, California. But they apparently brought a lot of assumptions with them. Assumptions GQ Magazine described as expecting a play that “would proclaim Darren Wilson, the officer who shot the unarmed 18-year-old dead on August 9, 2014, to be in the wrong.”
Most of the cast’s enthusiasm lasted as long as the first rehearsal. After that, nine of the original 13 actors quit.
Some of the would-be cast members illuminated the reasons for their discontent. “It felt like the purpose of the piece was to show, ‘Of course he was not indicted — here’s why,’” stated Philip Casnoff, who admitted he hadn’t read the full script before arriving for the rehearsal. Following his discovery that McAleer was the playwright, the self-professed “very liberal, left-wing-leaning,” actor decided, “Whoa, this is not the place for me to be.”
Actress Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of civil rights movement leader Ralph David Abernathy, also quit when McAleer refused to edit the play to her liking. “We were all concerned because the testimony made Michael Brown look like a villain and a big bully and some drugged-out kid who was a bad guy,” she said before quitting. “Omitted from the script was the autopsy and the medical examiner’s report about how many times Michael was shot.” Abernathy wanted the drama to include the part of the medical examiner’s report indicating Brown was shot in the top of his head — because it apparently suggested to her that Wilson was standing over Brown when he shot him.
Actually, there were three autopsies performed on Brown. One was done by St. Louis County, another was privately commissioned by Brown’s family and a third was undertaken by medical examiners from the U.S. military. Media and advocate “theories” abounded as to what those autopsies actually indicated, but there is no dispute Brown was shot six times. Yet there was also physical evidence that included DNA samples taken from the “interior left front door handle” of Wilson’s police vehicle indicating Brown was the “source of the major male contributor profile,” ballistics evidence proving the gun had been fired into the door of the vehicle, and several eyewitness accounts reporting a “tussle” in Wilson’s car, prior to the shooting.
All of the physical evidence is consistent with Wilson’s grand jury testimony. In addition, that grand jury heard from more 60 witnesses, whose testimony ran to several thousand pages of transcripts. The grand jury declined to indict Wilson, leading to an investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice. They also declined to indict Wilson because there was “no evidence” to disprove Wilson’s testimony that he feared for his safety, or evidence proving Brown had his hands up when he was shot. The report further noted that witnesses who asserted otherwise were “inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence,” or that “some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible or otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time.”
In other words, some of the witnesses lied.
Despite all this, Veralyn Jones, a black cast member who also resigned, offered the ultimate fallback position progressives take when reality conflicts with their carefully crafted narrative. “He claims that he wrote this to try to get to the truth of it, but everybody’s truth is totally subjective,” she said. “When you come to the matter of what really happened, nobody really knows for sure, because everybody has a different take on it. … It just didn’t feel right to me.”
“Subjective truth,” which is nothing more than flat out denial of reality, forms the heart of the progressive movement. From the “hands up, don’t shoot” lie that remains the principal impetus of the Black Lives Matter movement, to the leftist EU leaders who deny importing millions of Middle Eastern “refugees” is tied to increasing numbers of terror attacks and rapes, the “narrative” is all that matters.
With regard to the choices he made for his play, McAleer stood by his selection of the particular accounts he chose from more than 5,000 pages of transcript. “I picked the most dramatic chronological descriptions, the biggest liars and the biggest truth-tellers,” he said at the time. “It should be remarkably simple, but it’s not. It’s very complex.”
In reflecting on that stand last week, McAleer noted the quitting cast members “did not want to hear the genuine voices — even if they were black and under oath,” further observing their walkout “made a mockery of claims that there is a need for more diverse roles in the entertainment industry. This was a predominantly black cast in a play about a topic that was about an issue — police shootings of black men — that was of enormous interest to the black community.”
Enormous interest maybe — but only under certain circumstances. “In reality what activists obviously meant was that they wanted black roles that pushed a left/liberal agenda,” McAleer stated. “They may have wanted the actors faces to be a diverse color but they so did not want diversity of thought or ideas to be presented on the stage. No — those ideas had to be shut down.”
Shutting down the truth has disastrous consequences. Chicago leads the multi-city upsurge in violent crime more than likely attributable to the “Ferguson effect” that makes police officers hesitant to do their jobs. The city is on track to top 500 homicides for only the second time in the last seven years. Unfortunately, most of the murder victims will be black Americans.
That’s the truth. And there’s nothing remotely subjective about it.