Theatre Matters

Contemplations on the dramatic arts from a national perspective


Steven Oxman has contributed to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, American Theatre, Stagebill, and, most frequently, Variety, for which he has written over 300 television and theatre reviews.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Peppermint Patty and the Supreme Court

As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hold hearings on the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court, the primary shock so far stems from how little people actually know of the nominee’s personal beliefs.

Desperate to learn something about Judge Robert’s views on Roe v. Wade, gay rights issues, and other sensitive topics, senators and their aides are now diligently poring over all biographical tidbits available, attempting to take these crumbs and make meatloaf.

What we do know is that, while attending an all-boys high school, Judge Roberts performed in the musical, “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

He portrayed Peppermint Patty.

I am a theatre critic, and not a political analyst or an attorney. But allow me to suggest the following line of questioning:

Judge Roberts, did you specifically audition for Peppermint Patty, or would you have preferred to play a male role?

Did you enjoy playing a girl?

In any other instances during your life, have you ever pretended to be female?

No reason for asking that, just curious whether this is something you did out of duty – because you were, say, “playing a role,” or, perhaps, representing a paying client – or whether this was a task you jumped into with relish. I’ll move on to a less personal subject.

Do you believe that Peppermint Patty is a lesbian?

You seem to be surprised by the question. Didn’t it ever occur to you that her tomboyish behavior could be construed as a manifestation of lesbianism?

I’m sorry if the question isn’t clear. Let me ask it another way: do you think Peppermint Patty wears a thong, boxers or briefs?

I understand your reluctance to answer, Judge Roberts. I’m wondering if it suggests you may believe comic strip characters have privacy rights embedded in the constitution. But let’s move on, and assume for now that Patty is a lesbian, even if she wasn’t when you played her.

If Peppermint Patty had sex with her friend Marcie (who, by the way, calls her “Sir”), do you think a state should be allowed to criminalize that behavior?

Do you believe, like Senator Santorum of Pennsylvania, that if Patty and Marcie are allowed to have sex legally, this would also make it legal for Lucy to have sex with Snoopy?

Speaking of Snoopy for a moment, if the state government condemned Snoopy’s doghouse to make way for a mall, do you think that would violate the Takings clause?

I didn’t realize that resembled a case the Supreme Court has seen recently. I didn’t think they ruled on doghouses. But I don’t mean to ask your actual opinion. Let’s get back to the character you know best: Peppermint Patty.

If Peppermint Patty and Marcie fell in love, and they decided to get married in Massachusetts, and they invited you, would you attend the wedding?

If Marcie cheated on Patty and got pregnant by Charlie Brown, do you think Marcie should have to tell Patty and/or “Chuck” before having an abortion?

If Marcie dumped Peppermint Patty, and Patty decided to join the military, do you think the military should accept her?

If, after being rejected by Marcie and the military, Peppermint Patty went to work for Lucy at the lemonade stand, and then Lucy failed to promote her and promoted Snoopy instead because they’d had a romantic relationship, should Patty be able to sue for sexual harassment?

Sir, clearly this is a question about a comic strip, not something that would ever come before the Supreme Court. Why won’t you answer?