The chief theater critic for the Chicago Tribune is terrified that the hoi polloi will defile his beloved opera houses with firearms.
No, I’m kidding.
Chris Jones is actually much more worried about what visiting foreigners (and therefore, our superiors) might think about Chicago if his beloved theaters feel compelled to post “no gun signs” to keep out the tools of the riff-raff.
A spokesman for the Goodman Theatre said that the Goodman plans to install the “no guns” stickers on its doors in the next few days. Other groups, such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, said they still were studying the issue. Still others were surprised by the question. A couple did not want to talk about it at all. The issue is, several people noted, very complicated.
So what are those issues when it comes to guns and the arts in a brand-new concealed carry state?
Well, let’s note, first of all, that such stickers are a severe negative for international tourism, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel was touting this week with a fine new plan to light up Chicago’s magnificent buildings.
It may well be that Chicagoans going to an arts event will become used to seeing a “no guns” sticker on the door, and that, over time, we come to view them no differently than a posted prohibition of smoking. So concealed carry advocates say, and they may be right. But if you are visiting from Europe, those stickers will jump out at you, especially in a city that has to combat its long-standing rat-a-tat-tat reputation. They will fill many an iPhone screen and Facebook feed, and images of those stickers will wing their way back across the Atlantic. “Look,” these bemused visitors will say, “the good people of Chicago are worried about patrons bringing guns in with them to see Shakespeare! How crazy!” They will muse on Twitter as to why venue X seems to dislike guns and venue Y does not (perchance the symphony worries more than the opera; you get the idea).
Perhaps there is nothing the city can do about this new situation (its hand has been forced in this matter by higher legal authorities). But if we are thinking of Chicago in international terms, the consequences are the consequences. And the stickers have writ this new situation large and in your face.
Mr. Jones is quite worried about what the “internationals” might think of Chicago as they jet-set over for theater tourism.
It’s too bad he isn’t nearly as concerned with the middle class people who have been the victims of violent crime in Chicago for so long, but then, in his world, they don’t really exist.