A brief moment in media censorship history: Last week, Donald J. Tramp, my political puppet partner, and I were kicked out of the plaza at “The Today Show..” Apparently a stuffed fictional candidate is now “a political statement.”
As a long time New Yorker, I don’t normally do “touristy.” However, in the wake of Donald J. Trump’s landslide victory in the New York primary, a friend of mine suggested that Mr. Tramp and I go to “The Today Show” to get our “fifteen minutes of fame.” Since my Donald J. Tramp dummy bears a striking resemblance to the GOP front-runner dummy, I figured why not.
I arrived at Rockefeller Plaza with my Tramp campaign signs and Mr. Tramp wisely concealed in a box. A viciously huge security guard demanded to know what the signs were. Eyeing me suspiciously, he informed me that to gain access to the plaza audience I would have to dismantle my signs.
As I took my place in line, I smiled knowing my secret in the box. But then the secret was spoiled. Another security guard, an even beefier fellow, also eyed my signs suspiciously as I was dismantling them. “Donald Trump? Come on,” he grumbled.
Then he approached me and eyed me like a snake about to envelop a mouse in it’s jaws. “Aren’t you the girl from YouTube with that Donald Trump puppet?”
“Donald J. Tramp, sir,” I corrected him. While I was certainly surprised, I was also quite pleased that he had seen my “Introducing Donald J. Tramp” video (https://youtu.be/fVg4ufbYnrU).
“We can’t have you here,” he said as he then promptly ordered me to leave.
The two NBC pages working the show, both nice girls who were probably fresh out of college, thought that Mr. Tramp was a creative idea and loved the concept. However, they told us that in light of all the recent political controversies, “The Today Show” had nixed any and all political statements by the audience on the Plaza. “Even puppets?” I asked.
“Even puppets,” one of the pages told me with a half smile.
Yes, even puppets. Puppet free speech was being censored. As an author, comedian and scholar of The First Amendment, I find this not only worrisome, but also a sad commentary on the times. While George Orwell predicted media censorship, did he know it was going to become so severe that it would restrain ventriloquism free speech?
Donald J. Tramp and I left without further incident, but vowed to tell the world our story: A tale of how a girl and her puppet were silenced by the media for attempting to exercise their constitutional rights of humorous and satirical speech.