Cellphone toss: Is National Review writer’s act heroic or criminal?

Talk about taking issues into your own hands.

National Review writer Kevin Williamson did just that Wednesday night, in what’s now become either an infamous public outburst or a heroic arts effort.

During a performance of the musical “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” at the New York pop-up bar and performance space Kazino, Williamson hurled a nearby woman’s cellphone across the room when she refused to stop texting.

“I had a genuinely new experience at the theater tonight,” Williamson wrote that night on the National Review’s website. “I was thrown out.”


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Kazino’s performance space is particularly intimate, with the audience tightly packed in at small tables and on benches. The main offending guests, Williamson said, “were two parties of women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels, and insufficient attention span for following a two-hour musical.”

We get it. We’ve been there before. Ringtones and glowing cellphone screens in darkened theaters is an increasingly irksome issue; some feel theaters should take more aggressive measures and ask audiences to check their phones along with their coats -- but not their manners.

But we can also imagine Williamson’s actions were as disruptive to the production and audience members as the chatty, itchy-fingered texting woman herself.

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The incident has hit a nerve, sparking a wave of Internet buzz, largely in support of Williamson.

Gothamist wrote a love letter to the writer, calling him a hero. The texting woman had threatened to press charges, Gothamist said. If that were to happen, it made a generous offer to Williamson: “If you need help raising bail money, we’ll totally start a Kickstarter for you…” the blogger promised.

The most entertaining responses, however, have been in 140 characters -- on Twitter.

”.@petermarksdrama THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SAMSUNG,” wrote one user, Howard Sherman.

“ROAM SWEET ROAMER,” replied Peter Marks.

Writer Kurt Andersen was there and tweeted “Only distraction for me: her huffy theatrical exit.”

See for yourself; our favorite hashtag of the day: #cellphonetheatre.


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