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Edward Albee addresses censorship in Dallas appearance

By Catherine Cuellar, KERA 90.1 reporter

Dallas, TX – Edward Albee: I don't believe in any kind of censorship. I believe an open-minded and informed audience can find value in a discussion of any subject. One of the things that troubles me so much about what's happening in this so-called democracy these days is the way so much has become taboo to talk about. I was very shocked by the right wing pressuring CBS to cancel the Ronald Reagan program. It's an example of dictatorial censorship, and CBS should be ashamed of itself for caving in. And the right wing should be ashamed of itself for thinking that it has dictatorial powers over in a democracy.

Catherine Cuellar, KERA 90.1 Reporter: Do you think times now are any more or less challenging than they have been at other points during your career?

Albee: Directly after the 9/11 situation, the Bush administration referred to the people who had rammed the planes into the two towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as cowards. I don't think it was the president who said it, I think it was Ashcroft who called them cowards. And a very, very bright writer that we have in this country, and a very politically responsible writer in this country named Susan Sontag took issue with that and said "I deplore what they did, but it was not an act of cowardice. It was an act of great bravery for them to do what they believed in." Well, you would think that she had thrown up in public because they practically called her a traitor for daring to suggest that anybody who did anything against the United States could be anything but a coward. And she was excoriated for daring to say something that was true. I had misgivings about this administration. I have misgivings about most Republican administrations. They don't strike me as furthering the principles of the American Revolution very much. But ever since that's happened, I've noticed more and more inroads against freedom of speech in this country.

Cuellar: What are you doing about those concerns?

Albee: Well, right this second I'm talking to you about them. You have an audience of people who will be listening to me. That's one of the things I'm doing. I shoot my mouth off. A lot of us are shooting our mouths off a lot, and I imagine, in one way or another, we're writing about it. I've always been writing about people not participating in their own lives. Participating in an educated fashion in politics and government. And I'm convinced that if people are participating more fully in their own lives, they'll think more intelligently and end up voting more intelligently.

Cuellar: Do you think it's an even greater lack of participation now than you've seen before?

Albee: I think the participation is diminishing some, both the commercial pressures of doing the easy thing, which is film and television as opposed to live theater. And also people don't want the boat rocked. They've got a certain economic security now and they don't want anything that's going to take away from the insulated and easy life which is too bad, and that's why theater is around to wake people up.

Cuellar: What have been the rewards of rocking the boat and not pursuing an insulated life?

Albee: Oh, watching the people who stand up and walk out of my plays.


Email Catherine Cuellar about this story.