For a country that declares freedom of speech as a right, the consequences of voicing an opinion can be rough. After Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said at a concert in London that she was ashamed President George W. Bush was from Texas, fans have boycotted their music and some Texas radio stations have stopped playing their music.
Celebrities have opinions just like everyone else. They also have the same right to voice these opinions as everyone else. So why should their job, in this case their music sales, suffer because they voiced an opinion?
Even after Maines posted an apology on the Dixie Chicks Web site, protesters continued to destroy their CDs. A Pittsburgh, Pa., television station posted a poll on its Web site asking if people planned to boycott the Dixie Chicks’ music because of the comment Maines made. Over 60 percent of those who answered said yes.
Martin Sheen, an actor who plays the U.S. president on NBC’s The West Wing, spoke out Monday against those who put down Hollywood activists’ views. He wrote an opinion piece published yesterday in the Los Angeles Times that said everyone, whether a celebrity or a student, deserves “a turn at the podium.”
If students have the right to voice their opinions in a public forum, such as a newspaper, celebrities should be able to say what they feel about any matter, even if it is about the president.
While celebrities should recognize what they say will yield consequences, the public needs to make sure the consequences don’t go too far.
Madonna, Cat Stevens and the Beastie Boys have both recorded songs that publicize their anti-war stance. They’re just using the means they have to make their opinions known. In the past, movies and art have been used as a means for political expression. For example, Salvador Dali used his surrealist paintings to show his dismay over the Spanish Civil War.
At the Oscar luncheon last week, some nominees, such as Ed Harris, said if they have the chance, their acceptance speeches will comment on the war or the Bush administration.
All people have the right to freedom of speech and everyone, including celebrities, should be able to express their opinion without it affecting their work.