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Celebrities andpolitics dont mix

Lady Gaga is best known for her eccentric music, videos and style, but her recent political opinions have caught the attention of the press.

During a rally in Maine organized by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, she spoke out against the military’s ban of homosexuals.

“Doesn’t it seem to be that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is backwards?” Gaga said during her speech. “Doesn’t it seem to be, based on the Constitution of the United States, that we’re penalizing the wrong soldier?”

Gaga is not the only one using the limelight to draw attention to political issues. Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys spoke before a subcommittee of the the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works about mountaintop removal mining – a practice in which the top of a mountain is removed to provide easier access to coal sources.

Actor Michael J. Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali also joined in the fun and lobbied Congress for more money to fund a cure for Parkinson’s disease, adding fuel to the fire of celebrities with strong opinions they wish to vocalize.

These celebrities’ motives are good. They aim to bring light to issues that Americans, particularly the younger generation who do not read the newspaper or watch nightly news, might not hear about otherwise. But most celebrities are not considered experts in the field they argue for or against, potentially leading the public astray.

Actor Kevin Costner is certainly not a scientist. However, an oil-water separation machine he has helped develop was quickly bought and adopted by BP after this year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Impressionable young Americans often succumb to the glitz and glam that accompanies celebrity. They are convinced that certain laws and ideas should be put into effect on a federal level because their favorite singer shares the same beliefs. What they do not realize, however, is that implementing some laws could cost the federal government money it does not have, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.

The result is an increasingly liberal trend in which Generation Y demands change and reform but does not recognize that change is not free, especially in trying economic times.

When celebrities present their cases before Congress, they waste valuable time that could be used for expert testimonies or congressional debates, paving the way for quicker votes on issues that are beneficial to the American people.

According to CBS News, Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said he is tired of the influx of celebrity expertise.

“I object to those that are brought in for show business,” Voinovich said regarding Richardson’s appearance before Congress. “This witness was put in as an afterthought because someone thought it would add to the glamour of the hearing and attract media attention.”

Unless they are genuine experts, restricting celebrities’ access to critical Congressional hearings is reform all Americans could use.

Louisa Lundgren is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.