Martin Sheen, celebrities and their political comments

Hopefully we can widen this out later but this is principally in response to Sam Stone’s comments in this thread.

Actually according to this, this, and this he deliberately flunked his entrance exam in order to pursue an acting career. This is not to say that the man is a Nobel Scholar but it does suggest he’s not the imbecile you suggest.

While Sheen may well have had problems with alcohol and drugs in the past I’m fairly sure he’s been clean for a long time. I would certainly be very wary of judging a man’s political opinions on those grounds.

I would also suggest that acting is a profession of considerable merit and that it involves considerably more than pretending to be other people. Martin Sheen is generally regarded as a rather fine actor much better than say, Ronald Reagan. Just out of curiosity did you base your opinion of his views on his previous career?

The culture we live in places an unhealthy emphasis on the famous I think you would agree. As a result the views of someone like Sheen will be heard by many more people than those of you or I. Why should this stop him campaigning for what he believes just because more people will hear him? If Sheen was a Plumber would it be wrong of him to attend Anti-war marches? If not why is it wrong to do so in his current occupation and why is it wrong for him to take advantage of the benefits of his Profession?

So, Martin Sheen made an anti-war ad, and so we’re debating whether it’s fair for Martin Sheen to be allowed to voice his opinion on the war in Iraq in public, just because he’s more famous than other people, and he might sway public opinion disproportionately?

One vote here for “yes”, as it’s a free country, and he has the same rights to free speech as everybody else.

Oh yeah, he ‘intentionally’ flunked. I think I used that excuse once or twice myself.

The debate is not whether Martin Sheen should have the right to broadcast his opinion. Of course he should.

The question is whether or not you should pay any attention to it.

Why should we listen to some moron that used to drink and do a lot of drugs…wat a tick, we elected one.

Oh, and I should add that you should listen to his arguments, if he offers them. An argument should stand on its own.

But that anti-war ad he put out doesn’t offer an argument. It’s just Martin Sheen’s face, and he says, “Inspections work. War doesn’t”.

In other words, he’s offering himself up as an authority, without providing an argument of any sort for his opinion.

On the other hand, the opposing ad by Fred Thompson at least carries some weight on appeal to authority, because Thompson is an ex-Senator who actually sat on the Intelligence Commission, had access to classified data, and first-hand knowledge of current issues.

Just couldn’t resist a shot at Bush, could you? Could you take your one-trick pony show somewhere else, please? This isn’t a thread about George Bush.

Look, the bottom line is that, as a group, Hollywood celebrities are spectacularly unsuited to have worthwhile opinions about foreign policy. They aren’t all that well educated outside of fine arts degrees (many don’t even have high-school educations, or graduated from ‘studio’ high schools), they are surrounded by sycophants and yes-men, and they are largely divorced from the concerns of average people.

Of course they have a right to their opinion, and if they’ve got the money they can broadcast that opinion. But that doesn’t mean we should listen to them.

Some celebrities, however, have earned a little more respect. Bono, for example, has proven himself to be extremely knowledgeable about the fields he is active in, and he actually goes out and does the work. I have immense respect for Bono, even though I agree with him on almost nothing.

The people I have real contempt for are the Barbara Streisands of the world. She’s uneducated, pampered, and goes around sneering at anyone who doesn’t agree with her.

So long as we are qualifying why we should or shouldn’t pay attention to the views of celebrities, I reject Rush Limbaugh’s opinions because he avoided military service in Vietnam because of a pilondial cyst on his ass. That’s at least as relavant as anything you can drum up against Sheen.

Personally, Gore Vidal tends to peeve me, mainly because he can’t cover up the fact that he’s a Grade-A snob, who comments on ric Irish women by going “their mothers were all housemaids”…in 2000.

As a question to Mr. Stone, would your “syncophant and yes-men” comment also apply to captains of industry, who can be equally annoying (on left, right, and God-knows-what)?

Look, if a celebrity wants to present an actual argument, I’ve got no problem with it. But the argument should stand on its own. You shouldn’t dismiss it or give it extra weight just because a celebrity uttered it.

On the other hand, if say, a former secretary of state gives an opinion or makes an argument, that’s going to carry extra weight because of the qualifications of the person.

Martin Sheen did not present an argument. His face appears on TV, and he says, “Join our virtual march on Washington. Inspections work. War doesn’t.” He provides no evidence of this. He offers no argument. He’s basically saying, “Trust me - I’m Martin Sheen!”

Sam, you’re the one who indicated that prior drug and alcohol abuse, coupled with becoming wealthy, should devalue the weight of that person’s opinion. As you said in the other thread:

If that’s true, it applies equally to Dubya.

Personally, I don’t think it’s so for either Sheen or Bush. One thing I respect is an individual who can admit past mistakes and try to learn from them. I think both Sheen and Bush have done so.

And if George Bush was just an owner of a baseball team and came out and said, “You should support my opinion, because I’m George Bush!” I’d say, “Who gives a rat’s ass?”

Look: Anyone can present an argument, and that argument should be taken at face value. If Martin Sheen wants to present his geopolitical theories, I’m all ears. But when celebrities use their celebrity without arguments, we damned well shouldn’t pay any attention to them. That goes for conservatives, liberals, etc.

And you know, if watching Politically Incorrect for years taught me anything, it’s that the vast number of celebrities who are forced to actually defend those opinions show that they don’t have a frickin’ clue about much.

Actually, I have a fair amount of respect for Martin Sheen. I believe he actually has made an attempt to inform himself on many issues, and he has the balls to allow himself to be arrested protesting for the things he believes in. But I have zero evidence that he understands foreign policy, so why should I except his opinion on it without justification?

Now, if Madelaine Albright says, “This war is a bad idea” and doesn’t elaborate, it will give me pause. Because she has earned the right for her opinion to carry some weight. At the end of the day I may still disagree with her.

If a captain of industry (who I picture as the Monopoly man) wants to make a TV add, I’d be offended.


Because it’s cheap. He hasn’t payed any dues. He hasn’t earned his chops. Not in politics.

Martin Sheen is Martin Sheen, so he should know how little training or experience he has, he unfit he is to make decisions for others. I have strong feelings about a lot of things, that doesn’t mean that if I won the lottery or had huge tits or had people listening to me for some reason other than that, over time, people engaged in area of life had learned that I was an informed and capable part of that area, it would be cheap to shout my views.

We’ve all seen, I think, the great fiasco of various celebs (including RUSH) running they mouth off about politics, only to be “outed” a citizens who have never even bothered to register to vote.

P.S. Full disclosure. I happen to have socialized with one of his children. Said child has nice things to say about his dad, although not particularly about Pater’s political saavy.

Are you sure that is what he meant? I thought he meant Clinton. We’ve heard all the baseless stuff about Bush, but if you want real facts there is always that FBI tape of Roger Clinton saying (in regards to a cocaine deal) “gotta get some for my brother, he’s got a nose like a vacuum cleaner”.

That’s all I’m asking for. Are their a lot of uninformed and stupid opinions on Iraq being offered up by celebrities? Sure. Is there a lot of nonsense also being said on the subject by people from pretty much every other walk of life and on both sides of the debate? Sure. If a celebrity offers a dumb opinion he should be castigated for it but the fact a celebrity is offering it dosen’t make it a dumb opinion.

A valid point is a valid point whether it’s offered by a Nobel laureate, a high school dropout or a celebrity. And none of those things should affect the legitimacy of the arguments they offer.

Living on the other side of the Atlantic I haven’t seen the Sheen ad but It does sound rather patronising. That doesn’t mean that he lacks knowledge on the subject, just that it’s a bad advert. As you say in the past he has attempted to keep himself informed about Political issues so I’m willing to keep an open mind till I see his arguments in print.

Also, this might be a divided by a common language thing, but what do you mean by a “fine arts” degree? What popped into my mind was a bunch of Hollywood types studying Renaissance paintings. Having seen some of the films that come out of Hollywood that seems unlikely.

It also doesn’t mean they should be automatically ignored.

That’s a pretty broad assertion. Do you have any evidence to back it up? I know that Harrison Ford never went to college, and got only average grades in high school, but that doesn’t make him dumber than average. From your statement, someone could infer that a person with just a “fine arts degree” is not that well educated. I submit that “education” and a broad understanding of the world have less to do with any formal amount of schooling than with the simple desire and motivation to learn. I have met people with only high school degrees who had more common sense about how the world worked and knew more about current events than some of my college professors did.

However this:

I totally agree with, and I think it influences people in Hollywood more than any amount of formal education. A lot of the people in question live in their own little Southern California and /or New York City Universe, and remain completely unaware of just how far from mainstream America their existence is.

Did Martin Sheen ever look you in the eye and tell you that a report that never existed was proof positive of a need for war? Did Martin Sheen insist on a connection between Iraq and Al Queda for which he has no proof whatsoever? Did Martin Sheen convince half the world that America is a swaggering bully? Did Martin Sheen ever offer huge slobbering chunks of our money to purchase the loyalty of “allies”?

Conan the Canadian has his knickers in a bunch about poor ol’ Martin Sheen. He should take heart in knowing that Kid Rock, that eminent intellectual and nuanced political pundit, has thrown the full weight of his support behind him. Can Ozzy be far behind? (Osbourne, not Nelson)

I never knew Diogenes was a Supreme Court justice until I read this.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my politics (mindless knee-jerk liberal) would run counter to Sam Stone’s, but I have to agree with him/her (you never know) on this one. If Martin had put forth even a bumper sticker version of WHY we should not go to war, then at least there would be something to respond TO. Just saying “War Bad”, especially when you are patently not an expert, or even (I am making an assumption, but really, I think we all can agree) particularly knowledgeable, on the subject is just pointless. Doing so in an attempt to use your weight as a “celebrity” to bolster your opinion is actually worse (see “Hanoi Jane”). It is one of the reasons it can be so embarassing to be a liberal much of the time. Just for the record I don’t think War in Iraq is a good idea (this is not the thread for the reasons why on htat one), just so it does not look like I am trying to further an agenda.

“In ze movies, I vas ze Tahminaytah. But Bill Cleenton, he iz ze REAL Tahminaytah”.

Actual quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger during one of Bob Dole’s campaign appearances. I just about spit milk out of my nose when I saw it on TV.

This stuff happens on both ends of the political spectrum.

Sam Stone, there are MANY celebrities who do have college degrees-Jodie Foster, for one. Perhaps you can offer us a source for that assertation, that celebrities aren’t well educated?