(Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/6.)
Playwrights who speak out often suffer a backlash. It happened to Harold Pinter in Britain, and the latest example is Tony Kushner in the US. He was supposed to receive an honorary degree from John Jay College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY), but it's now been vetoed because of a protest from a single trustee who claims that Kushner is anti-Israel. Kushner himself has robustly denied the charge that he ever advocated a boycott of Israel, however critical he may be of Israeli defence policies. It makes you wonder whether any self-respecting intellectual will in future want to accept an honorary degree from a college that seems so ready to stifle open debate.