Monday, April 25, 2016

Open letter to WNYC's On The Media program re: "On Shakespeare"

On the Media podcast April 22, 2016 "On Shakespeare" with James Shapiro 

Open letter to On The Media from Linda Theil:

Hi, thanks for your show; I love it! 

I would like to comment on your [April 22, 2016] Shakespeare presentation with James Shapiro:

I know you are in the business of bringing truth to light, and you dislike conspiracy theories and ignorance of all kinds, but I would like to point out that perhaps your zeal was inappropriate in the case of the Shapiro interview [re: the Shakespeare authorship controversy].

For one thing, you allowed no one but Shapiro to speak on the topic — so only one viewpoint was allowed. I know this has to do with false equivalence on the part of newscasters, but I think it produced an inaccurate view of the topic.

Secondly, the language used to describe the topic is antagonistic: calling those who are interested in the authorship question “Shakespeare deniers” — a term used several times in the course of the interview — is remniscent of “holocaust deniers” a repugnant term that is vicious and inaccurate. Also the term “anti-Shakespeareans” is prejudicial and inaccurate since anyone who is interested enough in Shakespeare to study this issue is anything but “anti” Shakespeare. Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust urged using this term as a substitute for the "anti-Stratfordian" adjective typically used in the discussion.

Third, when Shapiro said that we have more documentation of Shakespeare (implying the Stratford man) than anyone else, Brook correctly asked, “Is that true?” but accepted Shapiro’s “Yes” with no further comment. A respected academic researcher named Diana Price wrote Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography that counters Shapiro's claim.

Furthermore, Brook allowed Shapiro to ridicule an alternate candidacy based on the assumption that Shakespeare's plays can be reliably dated -- a completely baseless assumption since the dating of the plays is by no means a settled issue.

AND she let Shapiro use his canard from his Contested Will book tour about bestiality with Richard III's horse to besmirch the name of an alternate candidate for the authorship. Really?

You may decide that there is no arguing with a confirmed conspiracy theorist, but I hope you will acknowledge that perhaps in this case you may have chosen a point of view too soon. 

Many thanks again for sharing your work and your talent with your listeners,

Linda Theil