Don’t Censor the Arts

Target: Edward H. Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines

Goal: Do not end corporate sponsorship of the Public Theater because of Trump-esque depiction of Julius Caesar.

Delta Air Lines is pulling its support from New York’s Public Theater because of the theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, in which Caesar is depicted as a Trump-like character. Bank of America has also backed out of its sponsorship of the play, though not of the Public Theater as a whole. These moves unjustly encourage censorship of the arts as well as diminish funds for a valuable industry already stripped of its federal funding.

The decision to remove this support for the arts came after right-leaning media, amplified by Donald Trump Jr., criticized the play’s staging since it culminates in Caesar’s assassination. However, as Jesse Green noted in his review of the play in the New York Times, “Even a cursory reading of the play, the kind that many American teenagers give it in high school, is enough to show that it does not advocate assassination.” The artistic director of the Public Theater and director of the play also publicly wrote, “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means. To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.” Free speech is a right in this country that extends to the arts, and must be respected. Urge the Public Theater’s sponsors to stand up and support free speech and the arts, and not to withdraw their funding.


Dear Mr. Bastian,

The Public Theater is a worthy institution that provides an invaluable service in its free Shakespeare in the Park productions, including Julius Caesar. The choice to depict Caesar as reminiscent of President Trump is not support for violence — the play is a cautionary tale extremely relevant to today’s political climate and, in fact, warns against using undemocratic means to combat those with whom we disagree.

Not only is this message extremely important, it is also the Public Theater’s right to present this work. Free speech applies to the arts as well as to the media, and now more than ever it is important to support these institutions as federal funding for the arts is cut off. I urge you to stand up for free speech and for the arts, and to restore your support to the Public Theater.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Elisa Rolle

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  1. So basically Delta Airlines thinks it’s okay to censor a theatre production for exercising free speech rights? And they support a president who is known for his nasty comments and speeches against all manner of people and who is also known for lying and stretching the truth into unknowable facts? The truth is Mr Bastian is a coward who is scared of controversy, but supports a president who lives in chaos and controversy? I’ll fly Alaska or any of the many alternatives to Delta.

  2. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    if plays have less violence, why cut off arts?!

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