Back in 2003, actor Tim Robbins gave a famous (infamous?) speech in front of the National Press Club in Washington DC regarding his right to express his negative views about the Iraq War:
“A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.”
Cry me a river. The irony that he gave his speech at the National Press Club and wasn’t tossed into a gulag afterward obviously didn’t dawn on him. That stage direction must not have been written into the script.
Many of the anecdotes Robbins shared in the speech had to do with his being criticized for his views by private citizens and – heartbreaking to someone whose life depends upon public appearances – having appearances canceled at privately sponsored events. He also had a bone to pick with George W. Bush’s “you’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror” line uttered shortly after 9/11. I guess his feelings were hurt or something.
Disagreements happen all the time between reasonable (and not so reasonable) people and sometimes (to put it nicely) heated discussions ensue. But if an event is privately sponsored and your views don’t jibe with those of the sponsors – or if they decide they just don’t like you and what you represent – they have every right to dis-invite you. Or, if private citizens don’t like you badmouthing the president overseas during a time of war, they can toss your CDs onto a bonfire. (Which in turn earns you a tasteful nude cover shot on Entertainment Weekly to protest the protests. Or something like that.)
The real problems begin when government tries to shut you down and shut you up because it doesn’t like what you have to say. That’s in direct violation of the First Amendment.
I wonder what Tim thinks of the recently released DHS report that claims “white supremacist and violent anti-government groups” and other “right wing extremists” MIGHT be gaining new recruits based on the current political and economic climate, including the economic downturn and the election of America’s first black president. The report stresses that it has no proof whatsoever of any such violent dissent, but you know, “rumor has it…”
This report was sent to law enforcement agencies around the nation – conveniently just before grassroots “tea parties” around the nation were set to commence. Is the government trying to intimidate citizens who dare to criticize the government? Any thoughts, Tim?
Back in 2003, Robbins also talked about a nation “bitterly divided.” What does he think of the fact that despite all of President Obama’s talk about bipartisanship, the partisan gap in his job approval ratings is the largest in the modern era?
Feeling chilly yet?
Fortunately for Tim, he no longer needs to worry about being “silenced” during the golden age of Obama. He can now start worrying about more pressing matters, like quashing pesky rumors about his appearing in Iron Man 2.
Thank goodness. Now I won’t mind plunking down $10.50 to see it.