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Saturday, February 09, 2008

You Tube Debate

Recently, I posted comments on a You Tube video of renowned Canadian tenor Jon Vicker's portayal of Peter Grimes. I remarked that Vickers was a fundamentalist and that he was quite homophobic. I recently received this response. I thought you might enjoy reading it and my response to the writer.

Dear Maestro 214: I take strong objection to your off color remark about Jon Vickers being a "fundie Christian". I'm sure you can agree that this expression is classless and slightly ridicules fundamental Christians, whose numbers are huge and growing everyday. I believe it would be prudent of you to not make such a remark which downgrades individual's religious beliefs regardless of how you feel about it. How would you feel if someone referred to a black man as a "blackie" or a Jewish man as a "Jewy". I'm not sure why you believe that Vickers is a homophobe. If one's views of homosexuality conflicts with his religious beliefs, then he has every right to stick with his guns and be consistent with his philosophy as long as he is not destructive of such groups of individuals. Kudos to Mr. Vickers who is a man of principle and should not be ridiculed just because his beliefe may not consistent with yours. Because one does not believe in the secular "progressive's" view of sexuality, does not make one a homophobe. Canned lingo such as the ones to which you have referred only divides and leans to the notion that tolerance and diversity only apply to the politically correct which is the worst sort of exclusion, bigotry and therefore hypocrisy.

Dear sqnmath1234,

If you assumed that my remark was intended to ridicule fundamentalist Christians, you were dead on. I make no apologies whatsoever for ridiculing a group whose political influence in the United States has been utterly disastrous, and thank God, is noticably waning.

Considering that many of the Fundamentalist movement's leaders have made disgustingly disparaging remarks about homosexuals, I see no reason that I as a homosexual, need show them any more civility than they have shown me. May I remind you that such outstanding "moralists" as the Rev. Jerry Falwell blamed the September 11 terrorist attacks on an acceptance of homosexuality in the United States, and that other such paragons of virtue like Fred Phelps have made careers out of hateful anti-gay rhetoric.

Jon Vickers all but detested Benjamin Britten, and the feeling was pretty mutual. He even went so far as to change texts in the libretto of Peter Grimes to remove what he perceived as gay overtones. His homophobia is rather well documented, and I would refer you to Humphrey Carpenter's excellent biography on Britten if you would care to research it further.

Vickers made a fortune off the work of one of the twentieth century's most prominent gay composers. Funny that he had the moral hutzpah to decline singing Tannhauser and Parsifal on the grounds of his faith, grounds that were blatantly anti-Catholic, but he had no issue with altering a living composer's art to great fame and financial success. Here, sir (or madam as your screen name makes your gender unclear) lies Mr. Vickers' hypocrisy.

Further, you've really no right to call me on using canned lingo when you yourself have used terms such as "social progressives" and even gone so far as to put them in quotation marks as to dilute the impact that such people have had on the improvement of universal human rights.

As for my rhetoric being an agent of intolerance, I would simply say to you that at no time have gays and lesbians attempted to ban the teaching of proven science, nor have we tried to enact legislation which forbids two consenting adults from entering into a legal and loving partnership, nor have we attempted to keep heterosexual persons from bearing and raising children, nor have we thrown our own children into the streets at ages as young as thirteen simply because they didn't conform to our uninformed and illiterate conceptions of the Bible. These are all hallmarks of fundamentalist behavior.

I do believe that if you compare the statistics, that fundamentalist Christians have made far more attempts to divide people, to sow hatred and to legislate a minority's narrow view of morality than any group of homosexuals has ever attempted.

If you're offended by being called a "fundie" so be it. The very concept of fundamentalism and its divisive political agenda offends me to the core. Especially given that more often than not, as was clearly the case with the current administration, greedy politicians have used the usually genuine faith of Christian believers as a stepping stone to very secular power, and then laughed at said believers' gullibility behind closed doors.


Kevin Sutton
By the way, you should have had the guts to sign your name to your post

5 comments:

Melissa said...

Incredibly well stated, Mr Sutton! I'm glad there are people like you who can articulate what I am thinking! :)

Kevin Sutton said...

Thank you Melissa.

Anonymous said...

Your statement that Vickers refused to sing Parsifal is so very wrong-Mr. Vickers wa the pre-eminent interpreter of this role during his career. If you have any doubts about this please check the Met Archives.
In addition to this fact,Mr.Vickers worked with many homosexuals in his career, and I never heard of him treating his homosexual colleagues any differently from anyone else.
Furthermore,in typical ultra-liberal fashion, you have the intolerant attitude of many of your ilk.....if one doesn't believe in your ideas they are bigoted,but it is alright for you to spew your brand of intolerance and hatred on the rest of the world.
GROW UP!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Vickers wasn't anti-homosexual, he was anti the gay mafia that he felt was running opera into the ground. There's a world of difference. It’s been very easy to bash Vickers for certain comments he made, but look closely at what he’s criticising. As a gay man myself, I have every sympathy with this view. Yes, he was a Christian. Not born-again, as far as I know. Again, a world of difference. And yes, he strong opinions, but he was certainly against any kind of fundamental belief system that restricted the rights of others.

As for the (in)famous dispute with Britten, I suspect that, at its very core, this had little do with the homosexual elements of the opera -- something Britten himself was known to play down -- and more to do with the completely different approach, vocally, to the role that Vickers adopted. If you listen to Pears vs. Vickers, it's virtually two different operas - snippets of discarded libretto aside.

But more than vocal differences, I often wonder if the rage that fuelled Britten’s famous walkout from the rehearsal was as a result of recognising that Vickers (and Davis, don't forget) were unlocking the greatness of the score -- something I don't think Pears was capable of doing. And perhaps Britten knew this. Both Britten and Pears were too close to it perhaps., it was their baby and it was being taken away from them. Understandable, but it’s hardly unusual in the arts for new productions of works to be far from the writer’s original view. (Often, thank God they are!) Was Britten actually devastated that Vickers would forever be known to posterity as the premier interpreter of the role, and that Pears would relegated to the tenor who merely originated it?

Anonymous said...

Right on. Fundie intellect is liliputian. It's really surprising someone with that mindset would even choose an opera career. You would think rockabilly gospel is more their speed.