Getting the Hook: The Met Cancels Opera Singer for Refusing to Condemn Putin

“It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera.” Those words from the Metropolitan Opera Manager Peter Gelb makes it sound like soprano Anna Netrebko has died or lost her voice in some accident. In reality, Netrebko was cancelled for failing to denounce Vladimir Putin. As with the criminalization of support for Putin in some countries, the termination of Netrebko is an attack on free speech. It is perfectly bizarre for the Met to stand against tyranny by attacking free speech, the very right that combats tyranny in all forms. This is not just the day that the music died for Netrebko, it is the day that free speech died at the Met.

Despite my strong support for Ukraine and condemnation of Putin, it is important for advocates of civil liberties and free speech to be vigilant in calling out such abusive measures. It is during wartime and periods of social discord that the greatest abuses can occur for those with dissenting or unpopular views.

Before addressing this latest controversy, it is also important to respond to rather fowhat has become a rationalization on the left for attacks on free speech in recent years: the First Amendment only protects speech from government crackdowns. The First Amendment is not the full or exclusive embodiment of free speech. It addresses just one of the dangers to free speech posed by government regulation. Many of us view free speech as a human right. Corporate censorship of social media clearly impacts free speech, and replacing Big Brother with a cadre of Little Brothers actually allows for far greater control of free expression.

As I have noted earlier, while liberal writers and artists were blacklisted and investigated in the 1950s, liberal activists have succeeded in censoring opposing views to a degree that would have made Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) blush. Rather than burn books, they have simply gotten stores to ban them or blacklist the authors and artists.

For these companies, there is no value to protecting the speech rights of dissenting voices with powerful politiciansacademics, and even some in the media demanding more censorship.

Now back to the Met. According to media reports, Met officials “made several attempts to convince Netrebko, who has made statements critical of the war, to rebuke Putin but failed to persuade the singer.” That sounds a lot like coerced speech: say these words or you can no longer sing at the Met. That sounds a lot like something Putin is doing in Russia as we speak. Saying that “well, we are not Putin” is not enough when you are acting in the same way by punishing political viewpoints.

Netrebko has had 192 performances at the Metropolitan Opera and is one of the world’s most celebrated singers. Did she lose the ability to hit such high notes due to the low note she strikes on politics?

Other Russians have faced backlash over their past praising of Putin or failure to condemn him now. One such example is Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin. Frankly, I have never been a fan of Ovechkin not only because I am a Blackhawks fan but he has previously praised this blood-soaked tyrant. Like Netrebko, he has appeared in pictures with Putin.  However, I would be the first to oppose any effort to bar him from the ice due to his political views (as tempting as they may be at the next game against Chicago). Unlike the Met, hockey officials generally supported the players.

Yet, Gelb bizarrely says “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.” No way forward? How about a free speech path where you allow an artist to perform for her art alone. Gelb and others can then use their free speech to condemn Putin or criticize Netrebko without silencing her on the stage.

Netrebko has publicly stated that “I am opposed to this senseless war of aggression, and I am calling on Russia to end this war right now to save all of us. We need peace right now.” Even that statement should not be necessary as a condition for her to perform. Are all opera singers now expected to repeat mantra-like the view of the Met or the majority?

When many artists opposed the Vietnam War, there was widespread support for their free speech rights in opposing blacklisting. The same was true during the McCarthy period. Now, the very same people who celebrate such struggles as defining moments in our history are seeking to cancel artists for their political views. In this case, Netrebko is not even being targeted for saying something offensive but rather for not repeating the position of the majority on the war. Years ago, I wrote that there was a dangerous trend toward compelled speech: “The line between punishing speech and compelling speech is easily crossed when free speech itself is viewed as a threat.” We appear to have crossed that line.

In the end, the Met succeeded in silencing a talented artist because she would not use her voice to support the view of the majority. In doing so, the Met embraced orthodoxy over art.

I have previously noted that the growing anti-free speech movement among artists and writers is self-destructive. Artists against free speech is like athletes against fitness.  Artists need free speech to be able to create and perform freely. To see artists leading an anti-free speech movement is a form of self-condemnation.

182 thoughts on “Getting the Hook: The Met Cancels Opera Singer for Refusing to Condemn Putin”

  1. When the United States bombs people, it is done by accident, and the victims are compensated. No other country does this. I don’t think that Russia will be compensating the people of Ukraine for all of the injuries that they are experiencing.

  2. “Censorship is ineffective in the long run, all it does is make people more interested in the ideas being censored.”

    ***

    Why not write a letter to Putin about this?

  3. 1 single question for Turley and the hysterical deranged commenters calling Putin mad and a warmonger:

    Which country was operating bioweapons labs in Ukraine?

    Was it:
    a) America
    b) Russia

  4. Trust a beautiful Russian woman speaking out in favour of traditionalism to anger all the blue haired pussy hat wearing degenerates.

    Russia is defying the west’s degeneracy, and the future will belong to them if they succeed. Thankfully many in the west see through the lies and propaganda, and know the truth.
    Censorship is ineffective in the long run, all it does is make people more interested in the ideas being censored.

  5. Let’s see if this comment will be posted by the “free speech warriors” on this website:
    Is this the same Metropolitan opera which employed Jewish pedophile James Levine despite the fact that everybody secretly knew he was a pedophile?
    Yes of course it is! Because being a Jewish pedophile (Epstein, Weinstein, Polanski, Ginsberg etc. etc. the list goes on) is ok with the liberal elites, but being a traditionalist Christian who defies NATO’s globohomo agenda is not. And that’s the real story behind the rabid deranged Russophobia from the left, with “muh invasion” just being a cover story. As is plainly evident from the lack of rabid hysteria about the US warcrimes in Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. etc.

    1. Disgusted, if in the same tone, one said Christian killers (Charles Manson, John Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer “etc. etc. the list goes on”) would you as a traditional Christian find offense and call that person anti-Christian? Should you be called an anti-Semite?

      Do you see your problem? Do you see why one might mischaracterize you as an anti-Semite? Do you think Jews and Christians approve of such behaviors? I would hope that a traditional Christian would quickly find the error in his comment painting one group in a bad light with a very broad brush.

      Do you see how free speech works?

      1. The fact that you think Charles Manson, John Gacy, Ted Bundy, and Jeffery Dahmer were Christians, already makes you unworthy of a response.

        The Talmud says unequivocally that it’s ok for a Jew to rape a 12 year old gentile. So yes, the Talmud does approve and these people took those comments seriously.
        Epstein’s victims frequently mentioned during interviews how they would be called goys and excluded from “Jewish meetings” by Jefferey and Ghislaine. The Talmud played a central role in their operations.

        Saying that these Talmudic pedophiles were inspired by the Talmud is no different than saying Al Queda is inspired by the Quran. The latter won’t be a controversial statement at all, whereas the former might get you locked up for hatespeech in Europe.

        You are either ignorant or are willingly looking away from the giant elephant in the room, because confronting that elephant would require you to question your views and investigate some uncomfortable truths.
        But if you are intellectually honest, I suggest you go and look up some interviews with Maria Farmer, one of Epstein’s victims, to see whether his Jewishness was merely a coincidence, or rather the central enabling cause in his life.

        1. PS Would anyone in their right mind say that if black people were exploited and raped by an organised KKK pedophile ring,
          that the fact that these people were members of the KKK was just a coincidence and irrelevant to the facts of the case?

          Of course not. Well, I’m saying that it’s not irrelevant that these people adhered to a religious text which says it’s ok to rape a 12 year old if she’s a gentile.

          1. It says in the Gospel of Mark Chapter 17, verse 6

            “If a rambling idiotic troll spouts off nonsense, incoherent clap trap, stone him. It is the only bang he will get considering his wife wont touch him”

            Thus spaketh the Lawd

        2. “The fact that you think Charles Manson, John Gacy, Ted Bundy, and Jeffery Dahmer were Christians, already makes you unworthy of a response.”

          Disgust, I didn’t say that. I used Christian instead of Jew in a similar fashion to what you did, which was intended to show you that what you did was wrong. It is clear I don’t identify people in that fashion, but you did.

          “The Talmud says unequivocally that it’s ok for a Jew to rape a 12 year old gentile.”

          The Talmud doesn’t say that. You made that up. You are not a Christian who lives to the standard of Jesus.

          “The Talmud played a central role in their operations.”

          In fact, the more you speak, the more I doubt you are a traditional Christian or even Christian.

          You are saying many things but providing no content of a worthwhile nature. You are a typical anti-Semite and hateful individual that utilizes free speech for his own purposes.

  6. What if the Met staged an opera starring Netrebko and nobody came?
    Peter Gleb has to avoid such a possibility, Jonathan Turley.

    So-called free speech has consequences. Try to think it through before posting, JT.

    1. “free speech has consequences”
      Indeed, like running your mouth about Ukraine joining NATO may result in Putin having to take defensive action for the protection of Russia.
      But when Putin takes the west at its word suddenly he is unreasonable and a maniac.

    1. The only people being arrested for freedom of speech are Canadian Truckers, and people supporting Putin.
      Get real, the west is 1000x more dictatorial then Russia ever was.

  7. Jonathan,

    If McDonald’s requires its employees to say “Welcome to McDonald’s, how may I take your order” when approached by a customer, is that compelled speech?

    1. Since when does being an opera singer require you to speak out against Putin? Go lean what a false equivalency fallacy is before leaving such a stupid comment.

  8. Jonathan,

    If McDonald’s requires its employees to say “Welcome to McDonald’s, how may I take your order” when approached by a customer, is that “compelled speech”?

  9. S. Meyer,

    Replace “okay” with “not an attack on free speech.” Is that consistent or not?

    1. Do you know what you are talking about? Obviously not or you would make sure everyone else knew. Did you screw up again? Are you trying to make another excuse?

  10. **OFF TOPIC QUESTION**
    I noticed each poster has a unique icon identifier (next to the poster name) given by the administrator when we sign up. It’s always the same never changes, that I know of. Some download their own, that’s pretty cool. I want Za Zau Pitts.

    Why do I bring this up? The poster known as “Anonymous” is always calling out posters as sock puppets and other expletives. If everyone has a unique identifier why is Anonymous, Deb, Independent Bob, An Old Guy and few others all the same?

    If Occam still has a sharp razor = same IP, same keyboard? Just asking.

    1. Anonymous the Stupid uses a generic icon that many others use. I am using that icon now.

  11. @sam

    I am afraid it goes way beyond merely not associating with those with whom you disagree. The woke crowd loves doxxing and destroying anyone who expresses a contrary opinion. And there is no forgiveness.

    The Church of Woke is a church with no salvation.

    antonio

  12. More of the famous leftist “tolerance” we keep hearing about. And the irony is that shi@@ibs see nothing wrong with censoring, suppressing or destroying those who disagree. In fact, if you DO NOT support censoring other viewpoints you are a NAZI.

    JT, despite your liberal views the woke crowd views you no differently than any deplorable. Guess you’re a nazi too.

    antonio

  13. This is stupid. She still has family back in Russia who could face reprisals for her comments here. Is the Met going to be liable for any harm if she acquiesces to their demands? I don’t think so. This targeting of individual Russians over Putin’s deranged actions is silly.

    1. “She still has family back in Russia who could face reprisals for her comments here.”

      That is true, and the only possible caveat to my view that she should publicly condemn Putin.

      Her problem is this: For years, she has publicly supported Putin, a tyrant — and now a mass murderer. Because of that, any individual or organization has the *moral* right (in fact, obligation) to ostracize her. Her bad choices got her into this mess. And if now, there’s no good way out — it’s her own fault. (And once again, she *withdrew* from the Met performance and from many others around the world.)

      1. Sam, you are correct – I checked it out. Turley – conveniently – omitted this significant factor: she was already on public record as being a supporter of Putin. If she refuses to withdraw her trumpeted (good word here) support for Putin, then it is understandable that the Met would refuse to hire her until she renounced her public stance.

        1. Unpopular positions can become popular. Early in the Vietnamese war, a large percentage of the population was for the war. Suddenly the war hit home, and many of those suddenly changed their opinion, becoming against the war. Should the ones initially against the war have had to renounce their position? When popular opinion for the war changed, should those in favor of the war have to renounce their prior opinions?

          I am not arguing the law, only the mindset of one so quickly condoning people for what they previously believed. Private institutions can do as they wish, but such actions represent vindictive and envious minds. It is not the mindset of the classical liberal, or shall I say, the libertarian, who believes in, live and let live.

          1. If her last pronouncements were in praise of Putin, sure, the Met had good risen to require her to issue a public disavowal.

            1. One has to know when the last pronouncement in favor of Putin was made and then when the Met told her that such pronouncements hurt their business or whatever the claim is.

              I am not debating the Met’s legal rights. I asked you what you would do on another similar issue where the country’s mood changed (The Vietnam War), and you did not answer.

              “I am not arguing the law, only the mindset of one so quickly condoning people for what they previously believed. Private institutions can do as they wish, but such actions represent vindictive and envious minds. It is not the mindset of the classical liberal, or shall I say, the libertarian, who believes in, live and let live.”

      2. “Putin, a tyrant — and now a mass murderer”
        Get real lunatic, America has killed more people and silenced more dissidents over the last 2 decades than Russia has since WW2.
        You people are unhinged with your disgusting hypocrisy and utter ignorance of the objective facts.
        Almost on par with the vegans who virtue signal about not eating eggs whilst using devices assembled by suicidal child laborers in China.

  14. I disagree with the Met’s actions. I do not think individual Russian artists or athletes should be punished, and I do not believe in compelled speech.

    I think that only teams that explicitly represent Russia should be banned, as a form of sanction against Russia. Frankly, I thought Russia should be banned from international sports for years until they stop cheating through doping.

    Anna Netrebko is Russian. Publicly condemning Putin would risk her career in Eastern Europe, her freedom, and possibly her life. While I applaud the bravery of Russians who have protested Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, they did so at great personal peril. Protestors were immediately arrested. The government has threatened to take their kids away from them. Compelled speech is morally wrong in general. Specifically, the Met cannot try to force Netrebko to condemn Putin because the artistic directors of the Met will not have to pay the price that she will. In addition, I believe it is a basic human right to form your own opinion. Netrebko has a right to hers, even though I disagree with her.

    IF Netrebko makes public statements in support of the Ukraine invasion, that might harm the Met’s ticket sales, and their profits. It would be understandable to book other talent. However, it appears that the Met has a problem with what Netrebko is NOT saying.

      1. David – I thought the Met tried to get her to release a statement condemning Putin as a condition of performing.

    1. “I believe it is a basic human right to form your own opinion.”

      As it is a basic human right to hold: “I vehemently disagree with your opinion. And I find that opinion so destructive that I no longer want to associate with you.”

      1. Sam, yes, freedom of association is one of our rights, as well. I am against coerced speech, but people may associate with whomever we wish. I also believe that employers have the right to take action against an employee whose private life or public speeches negatively impact the business.

        Russians, born and raised in Russia, grew up with intense brainwashing from infancy. The media is censored, and the internet has been censored since 2012, so they do not have access to accurate information. I don’t expect anyone to throw off lifelong conditioning immediately.

        It’s just my personal opinion, but I do not agree with punishing individual Russian actors, artists, or athletes, just for being Russian and refusing to publicly condemn Russia. That carries consequences. I would hope to convince them that Putin is wrong, but that cannot be forced. However, if any employee or contractor makes public statements in support of the Russian invasion, then that can affect the business that employs them. If it affects profits, there would be a business need to separate.

  15. Metropolitan Opera Manager Peter Gelb, is the son of Arthur Gelb, former Presstitute-Managing Editor of The New York Times. In short, Gelb’s religion is Leftism. Therefore, Gelb hates free speech, unless, of course, the “free speech” is really promoting or advancing the leftist narrative. Only under those conditions is Gelb for “free speech.” So, for example, Gelb is fine with promoting the hypocritical and false narrative that the Biden Administration is against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when the opposite is true. And Gelb was all for promoting and advancing the anti-Semitic and Pro-terrorist “opera” called “The Death of Klinghoffer.” (Anti-Semitic “composer” John Adams called it the “death” of Klinghoffer, rather than the murder of Leon Klinghoffer to dehumanize Jews and to elevate and romanticize murderers of Jews.) Like I said, the Met is a fraud and should be avoided by any person who cares about civilization and human decency. Of course, if you’re a leftist, who hates those things, you’ll want to support the Met every chance you get.

      1. Nonsense. Angering people with BS pro-terrorist leftist propaganda isn’t stirring “mighty passions.” And since you enjoy such purported “moving” experiences as the John Adams rubbish, I heartily recommend a truly moving experience by ingesting some docusate sodium capsules.

            1. How ironic that you call someone else a “mental midget” while misusing the word “axiom.”

              1. You must be the cretinesque “Anonymous” that posts here. So, I shall ‘splain what an axiom is. It’s an unprovable rule accepted as true because it is self-evident. All reasonably intelligent people knowledgeable of the facts (which excludes yourself, of course) would agree that the proposition I’ve provided is true.

                1. I know what an axiom is. What you wrote was an equation, not an axiom, and your judgement that it’s true is an opinion, not a fact. Your belief that “All reasonably intelligent people knowledgeable of the facts would agree” is fallacious.

                  1. Anonymous the Stupid, that wasn’t an actual equation. It was a type of code that Stupid people don’t understand. In the code was a truth that intelligent people accept as true. You don’t, but that is because you are Anonymous the Stupid.

            2. Well, that was a creative way of calling someone a halfwit.

              I wish my detractors put in the effort to make it fun.

      2. Providing a platform for terrorist activities and murder is not the moral equivalence to a stable society.

        However, to the society of leftists, perhaps terrorism and murder are moral equivalents.

    1. “[T]he Met is a fraud and should be avoided . . .”

      So it’s okay for people to not associate with the Met. But it’s *not* okay for the Met to refuse to associate with a singer.

      Not a big fan of consistency, are you?

      1. Sam, the logic you are using is based on over-generalization. The word okay can be associated with many different ideas such as what is legal, moral, permissible etc., so to use such an argument is merely a generalization that leads nowhere.

        I will not call it a logical fallacy because the discussion will be about that term instead of the topic at hand.

          1. YNOT, don’t cry because you didn’t understand the discussion. Go back to sleep, and mommy will come in and kiss you goodnight.

      2. It’s perfectly consistent: the Met is wrong for compelling a singer to say something which goes against her values, when politics has nothing to do with her being able to function as an opera singer.
        And the people are correct to boycot the Met for going against their values, namely freedom of speech and expression.

        Nothing about being an opera singer requires one to speak out against Putin or adopt any other kind of political ideology. And it’s wrong for any organisation to refuse to associate with someone for any reasons which have nothing to do with their work competency. Learn what a false equivalency fallacy is.

    2. You completely undercut your own argument by going on a deranged rant about “anti-semitism”.
      I agree that Netrebko should be able to support Putin’s fight against the NATO terrorist’s occupation of Ukraine.
      I also agree that John Adams should be able to support the Palestinian people’s fight against the Israeli terrorist’s occupation of Palestine.

      1. “Israeli terrorist’s occupation of Palestine.”

        For the anti-Semite, a bit of history which of course the anti-Semite avoids:

        *The history before the British Mandate and the law:

        Jordan illegally occupied Judea/Samaria for 19 years. They did not have the backing of international law, but the world accepted the occupation.

        Israel cannot possibly be an occupier, for what would they be occupying? They would be occupying land that is legally theirs.

        How can that be? The international community created laws to protect the borders of all nations after the first world war.

        Those laws gave Israel sovereignty over the entire area of Israel, Judea and Samaria that I will detail later.

        But, there is history even before that. The Jewish people lived in that land for over 3,000 years, including the Jewish Kingdom that ruled over Judea and Samaria. That history and continuity make Israel’s claim far greater than any other, especially since no Arab, Palestinian state, or kingdom existed in that territory mandated to Israel.

        *How are borders decided?

        That takes us to 1917 and the subsequent creation of treaties to establish the legal basis for a sovereign nation’s border. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire and other countries created this need. How does one divide up the lands that the Ottoman Empire and other nations had conquered?

        Following WW1, the victors created The League of Nations in 1920. The world needed to oversee a system where nation-building took place in those lands that were former colonies of the defeated nations. The idea was that the victorious powers would not grab political power but create new nation-states overseeing those areas while they were being built.

        *The solution to the modern state:

        The solution was the mandate system. Palestine was one of those areas that had to be overseen while a modern nation-state was being created. This nation-state was made in the same fashion as others in the middle east and was considered the least problematic. There was very little value and no oil in the lands Mandated to Israel.

        Like everywhere else, the world under The League of Nations made a decision. In the case of the British Mandate, Palestine should be a home for the Jewish people.

        Why? As mentioned before, there were 3,000 years of continuous presence and connection to the land that no other group had. Therefore, the Jews had a legitimate right to ‘reconstitute’ a national home.

        If one argues against this decision, then one has to do the same against all the decisions that created the Middle East countries (along with countries all over the world.)

        Article 25 permitted, for convenience sake, a Mandate to be split into parts which the British immediately exercised. The British created Jordan, which lay west of the Jordan River. Has anyone questioned Jordan’s right to exist? The other part was left for the Jewish people. That part contained Judea/Samaria, later known as the West Bank, and all of Jerusalem.

        The British Mandate expired in 1948, and Israel declared its independence.

        *The aftermath:

        Upon Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, the Arab states attacked the new nation. Judea/Samaria and all of Jerusalem were part of the sovereign territory of Israel. Fighting ceased, based on an armistice agreement where this half of the Mandate was divided again with a green marker pen. The fighting men of both sides agreed to withdraw to their sides of the green line.

        Jordan was now occupying additional land that was sovereign Israeli territory obtained through an act of war. That act of war never changed the legal boundaries constituting the border of Israel. Jordan was an illegal occupying force but was accepted the same way Russia illegally occupies Crimea today, against international law.

        *Enter the League of Nations and International agreements

        Israel’s territorial rights were guaranteed by treaties and agreements between the nations of the world and the League of Nations, as enumerated and partially explained in an earlier prior response.

        One has to ask themselves why those so prejudiced against Israel do not challenge the existence of Jordan? Wasn’t Jordan created under the same set of rules?

        Jordan was guilty of occupying the West Bank also based on those rules. Why weren’t they called illegal occupiers? Prejudice and antisemitism are two explanations. Of course, there are others, such as oil and personal power. Come WW2, and we see the entrance of the Nazis and Arabs like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, all that wanted to exterminate the Jews.

        *Enter the UN

        There is so much history and duplicity that I haven’t written about and won’t at this time, but one has to cover just a bit about the claims based on actions occurring in the UN.

        The UN’s only binding powers involve the adoption of its budgets. They do not have international law-making abilities. One could say their abilities are similar to the American House passing a law but then following rules to make what they say legal (Senate and Presidential acceptance). To make things simple, that means the UN resolutions have no practical legality. They require the consent of the parties involved.

        However, some assume otherwise even though they will not apply the same rules to other nations. Why? Could prejudice and antisemitism be a reason?

        Rules are supposed to be applied the same to all nations. I wish some of those who hate Israel with such intensity understood what the Rule of Law means. Without that, despotism prevails.

        *One last point:

        Previously, I mentioned “uti posseditis juris.” What does that Latin phrase mean in the context of this discussion?

        According to international law, when a new country is created, its borders are the borders of the last geopolitical administrative unit in that area. That includes countries that are emerging from colonialism. The borders are those of the former colony. Though this might be arbitrary, it nonetheless reflects international law. The alternative would be that everything would be up for the taking, creating a volatile world environment. That is why this rule is applied in every other Mandate.

        *Just one more point. What are settlements?

        What are called settlements are Jewish civilian presence in an area previously illegally occupied by Jordan.

        Some people interpret Article 49 of the Geneva convention wrongfully and use that against Israeli families relocating to parts of Israel inside of Israel’s territorial boundaries. Since such relocation is within Israeli territory, there should be no complaint. Article 49 was written to prevent hostile nations (Germany in the 1930s) from sending large numbers of people into territory outside their territorial boundaries while moving those indigenous to the area elsewhere.

        Israeli citizens are moving individually from one legal place in Israel to another. This act is nothing more than Israeli citizens (Arab, Jew and Christian) moving from one city to another.

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