Debbie Schlussel tipped me to this story about a judge ruling that a play called "Fuggedaboutit - A Little Mobster Comedy" could go on at Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, Washington despite complaints filed by Italian-Americans in the community that it is offensive or race hate.
Italian-Americans upset over a suburban school play titled "Fuggedaboutit - A Little Mobster Comedy," performed by "the Bada Bing Players," lost their federal court bid Wednesday to halt this weekend's production.
The decision came a day after a mother and son filed a civil rights lawsuit claiming that the play, written by a teacher, promoted hurtful stereotypes in its portrayal of old mobsters who look and sound like characters from "The Sopranos." (In fact, the Bada Bing is the name of a topless club in the TV series.)
"Public interest cries out for free expression in our schools," said U.S. District Judge John Grady, who ruled against Marina Amoroso-Levato and her 12-year-old son, a student at the school.
Here's what Debbie had to say:
I agree with the Italians.
When Italians complained about mobster movies or shows, like "The Sopranos," I used to think they were wrong and over-reacting. I never thought of Italians as mobsters and shows and movies wouldn't change that.
But when I think about it more deeply, I don't think I'd like it if plays, movies, and TV shows constantly showed Jews as murderers, thugs, and criminals.
What is a middle school doing having a play about the mob, anyway? Of what educational value is it? Very little if any.
This really isn't really about free speech. Anyone can perform any play or film any movie or series about Italians and the mob anytime they want across America . . . in the private sector.
Being an "Italian-American" (blah blah I'm just an American, though proud of Italian culture and contributions) I can say that I could really care less. There are a lot of things educational about putting on plays, such as organization, memory, projection of self, etc... etc.. but that's an argument for another day. This is not really about the educational value of kids putting on plays.
Do I care about the constant Italians = Mafia/mob thing? Well sort of, but it's a stereotype I laugh off.
However, you have to remember that we - as Italians - have no right to complain because we're white. So it doesn't surprise me that a judge would fluff off a complaint that something is racially based or offensive when it targets a white group of people.
After all what do the Italians have to complain about? They came here legally, lived in waiting stations for weeks at Ellis Island under crappy conditions, settled, assimilated, added to the culture of America without demanding that America change into Italy, worked hard and a lot of them succeeded. We've never formed "affirmative action" groups demanding special rights for only our race. There's a few leftie groups who claim to represent Italian Americans, but I think most of us think they're ridiculous and wish they'd go away and stop pointing out our differences. Our ancestors were discriminated against when they got here and overcame it.
And this is just a lesson to all other immigrant groups. If you come here and don't assimilate, form groups in order to get special favors rather than work hard and blame every single thing bad that happens to you on racism or "the man", then you too can join the growing number of the impoverished and held back (by themselves) minority groups in this country.
Or you can work hard, overcome challenges and actually make something of yourself, but that would be too hard wouldn't it? It's much easier to sit back and make demands based on your race or the color of your skin and feeling like you're actually doing something good while actually doing nothing. Hiding in communities that are totally of your race and not branching out rather than fitting in and enjoying all that America offers.
Everyone who comes to America faces challenges, it's what you do when faced by those challenges that matters.
And I'm proud of my grandparents who endured discrimination, the great depression, World War 2 and worked to succeed so that their children and their children's children could have the right to sit on a computer and say "Fuggedaboutit".