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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 16th, 2003, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Smile 'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'

I just love this article and Tim Robbins.


"YOU GO TIM"


http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0416-01.htm


Published on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 by CommonDreams.org

'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'
Transcript of the speech given by actor Tim Robbins to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003.

TIM ROBBINS: Thank you. And thanks for the invitation. I had originally been asked here to talk about the war and our current political situation, but I have instead chosen to hijack this opportunity and talk about baseball and show business. (Laughter.) Just kidding. Sort of.

I can't tell you how moved I have been at the overwhelming support I have received from newspapers throughout the country in these past few days. I hold no illusions that all of these journalists agree with me on my views against the war. While the journalists' outrage at the cancellation of our appearance in Cooperstown is not about my views, it is about my right to express these views. I am extremely grateful that there are those of you out there still with a fierce belief in constitutionally guaranteed rights. We need you, the press, now more than ever. This is a crucial moment for all of us.

For all of the ugliness and tragedy of 9-11, there was a brief period afterward where I held a great hope, in the midst of the tears and shocked faces of New Yorkers, in the midst of the lethal air we breathed as we worked at Ground Zero, in the midst of my children's terror at being so close to this crime against humanity, in the midst of all this, I held on to a glimmer of hope in the naive assumption that something good could come out of it.


Actor Tim Robbins speaks about his anti-war stance at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday, April 15, 2003. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

I imagined our leaders seizing upon this moment of unity in America, this moment when no one wanted to talk about Democrat versus Republican, white versus black, or any of the other ridiculous divisions that dominate our public discourse. I imagined our leaders going on television telling the citizens that although we all want to be at Ground Zero, we can't, but there is work that is needed to be done all over America. Our help is needed at community centers to tutor children, to teach them to read. Our work is needed at old-age homes to visit the lonely and infirmed; in gutted neighborhoods to rebuild housing and clean up parks, and convert abandoned lots to baseball fields. I imagined leadership that would take this incredible energy, this generosity of spirit and create a new unity in America born out of the chaos and tragedy of 9/11, a new unity that would send a message to terrorists everywhere: If you attack us, we will become stronger, cleaner, better educated, and more unified. You will strengthen our commitment to justice and democracy by your inhumane attacks on us. Like a Phoenix out of the fire, we will be reborn.

And then came the speech: You are either with us or against us. And the bombing began. And the old paradigm was restored as our leader encouraged us to show our patriotism by shopping and by volunteering to join groups that would turn in their neighbor for any suspicious behavior.

In the 19 months since 9-11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred. Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear. A unified American public has grown bitterly divided, and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state.

This past weekend, Susan and I and the three kids went to Florida for a family reunion of sorts. Amidst the alcohol and the dancing, sugar-rushing children, there was, of course, talk of the war. And the most frightening thing about the weekend was the amount of times we were thanked for speaking out against the war because that individual speaking thought it unsafe to do so in their own community, in their own life. Keep talking, they said; I haven't been able to open my mouth.

A relative tells me that a history teacher tells his 11-year-old son, my nephew, that Susan Sarandon is endangering the troops by her opposition to the war. Another teacher in a different school asks our niece if we are coming to the school play. They're not welcome here, said the molder of young minds.

Another relative tells me of a school board decision to cancel a civics event that was proposing to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the war because the students were including dead Iraqi civilians in their silent prayer.

A teacher in another nephew's school is fired for wearing a T- shirt with a peace sign on it. And a friend of the family tells of listening to the radio down South as the talk radio host calls for the murder of a prominent anti-war activist. Death threats have appeared on other prominent anti-war activists' doorsteps for their views. Relatives of ours have received threatening e-mails and phone calls. And my 13-year-old boy, who has done nothing to anybody, has recently been embarrassed and humiliated by a sadistic creep who writes -- or, rather, scratches his column with his fingernails in dirt.

Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers, and by their fair and balanced electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. (Laughter.) Apologies to Gore Vidal. (Applause.)

Two weeks ago, the United Way canceled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership. And both of us last week were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A famous middle-aged rock-and-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war."

And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

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.

Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.

I am sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war. Hollywood's heavy hitters, the real power brokers and cover-of-the- magazine stars, have been largely silent on this issue. But Hollywood, the concept, has always been a popular target.

I remember when the Columbine High School shootings happened. President Clinton criticized Hollywood for contributing to this terrible tragedy -- this, as we were dropping bombs over Kosovo. Could the violent actions of our leaders contribute somewhat to the violent fantasies of our teenagers? Or is it all just Hollywood and rock and roll?

I remember reading at the time that one of the shooters had tried to enlist to fight the real war a week before he acted out his war in real life at Columbine. I talked about this in the press at the time. And curiously, no one accused me of being unpatriotic for criticizing Clinton. In fact, the same radio patriots that call us traitors today engaged in daily personal attacks on their president during the war in Kosovo.

Today, prominent politicians who have decried violence in movies -- the "Blame Hollywooders," if you will -- recently voted to give our current president the power to unleash real violence in our current war. They want us to stop the fictional violence but are okay with the real kind.

And these same people that tolerate the real violence of war don't want to see the result of it on the nightly news. Unlike the rest of the world, our news coverage of this war remains sanitized, without a glimpse of the blood and gore inflicted upon our soldiers or the women and children in Iraq. Violence as a concept, an abstraction -- it's very strange.

As we applaud the hard-edged realism of the opening battle scene of "Saving Private Ryan," we cringe at the thought of seeing the same on the nightly news. We are told it would be pornographic. We want no part of reality in real life. We demand that war be painstakingly realized on the screen, but that war remain imagined and conceptualized in real life.

And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago. (Applause.) With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot- one comedian has more guts than most politicians. (Applause.) We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who can understand the Constitution, congressman who don't in a moment of fear abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war to the executive branch. And, please, can we please stop the congressional sing-a- longs? (Laughter.)

In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce. And it doesn't take much to shift the tide. My 11-year-old nephew, mentioned earlier, a shy kid who never talks in class, stood up to his history teacher who was questioning Susan's patriotism. "That's my aunt you're talking about. Stop it." And the stunned teacher backtracks and began stammering compliments in embarrassment.

Sportswriters across the country reacted with such overwhelming fury at the Hall of Fame that the president of the Hall admitted he made a mistake and Major League Baseball disavowed any connection to the actions of the Hall's president. A bully can be stopped, and so can a mob. It takes one person with the courage and a resolute voice.

The journalists in this country can battle back at those who would rewrite our Constitution in Patriot Act II, or "Patriot, The Sequel," as we would call it in Hollywood. We are counting on you to star in that movie. Journalists can insist that they not be used as publicists by this administration. (Applause.) The next White House correspondent to be called on by Ari Fleischer should defer their question to the back of the room, to the banished journalist du jour. (Applause.) And any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence or intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation. You have, whether you like it or not, an awesome responsibility and an awesome power: the fate of discourse, the health of this republic is in your hands, whether you write on the left or the right. This is your time, and the destiny you have chosen.

We lay the continuance of our democracy on your desks, and count on your pens to be mightier. Millions are watching and waiting in mute frustration and hope - hoping for someone to defend the spirit and letter of our Constitution, and to defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism.

Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us -- right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation. Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years. To do so we must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us -- like freedom, the First Amendment and, yes, baseball. (Applause.)

###

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 16th, 2003, 07:29 PM
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Thanks for posting this, GogoGirl!

Tim Robbins
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 16th, 2003, 07:31 PM
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For those unfamiliar with the Baseball Hall of Fame flap, this link might be hepful:

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030428&s=robbins
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2003, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zummi
Thanks for posting this, GogoGirl!

Tim Robbins
i second that!

robbins is so on target:

I imagined our leaders going on television telling the citizens that although we all want to be at Ground Zero, we can't, but there is work that is needed to be done all over America. Our help is needed at community centers to tutor children, to teach them to read. Our work is needed at old-age homes to visit the lonely and infirmed; in gutted neighborhoods to rebuild housing and clean up parks, and convert abandoned lots to baseball fields.

i keep waiting for a president to take care of these local problems but it hasn't happened yet.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2003, 12:03 PM
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He's more concerned with "saving Iraqi lives" and transforming Middle east. It's the same story here in Australia. But believe me, come election times they will do those things doloresc, but only makeup. Very sad

Gogogirl thanks for the article
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2003, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam L
He's more concerned with "saving Iraqi lives" and transforming Middle east. It's the same story here in Australia. But believe me, come election times they will do those things doloresc, but only makeup. Very sad

Gogogirl thanks for the article
thanks, sam. it's not that i don't have compassion for non-americans but let's not mince words: the united states is a mess! our own citizens are feeling more disenfranchised than ever but our national leaders aren't showing any genuine concern...until, as you said, election time rolls around and they're out kissing inner city babies again.

yes, thank you gogo girl.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 17th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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that's what you get when you live in a country where you have to choose between right and more right..... I'm not particularly left-wing, but it's one of the good thing we have here that it EXISTS, so the right-wing also has to pay attention to what the people needs....

They're coming to get you Barbara!
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 02:57 AM
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The wonderful Anna Quindlen's recent column in "Newsweek" is another good one:

The Sounds of Silence

April 21 issue — Last month a United Way chapter in Florida disinvited the actress Susan Sarandon from a fund-raising luncheon at which she’d agreed to speak. This was scarcely surprising. Many charities are happy to use celebrities to attract donors to their events, but they like them to be as decorative and inoffensive as the flower centerpieces. And with war looming, the Oscar-winning actress, who has been outspokenly liberal on a variety of social issues and consistently critical of the invasion of Iraq, must have suddenly seemed akin to a cactus.

It was an early salvo in the difficult and painful war here at home. The rules of engagement were clear. If you had early doubts about the use of American power in Iraq, you should sit down and shut up because you might imperil the eventual result. If you continued to have doubts about our foreign policy while the war was ongoing, you should sit down and shut up because you were giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

And, trust me, if you still have doubts about the wisdom of unilateral action now, you should sit down and shut up because we won.

Never mind if you are asking yourself why a nation we were told was lousy with chemical and biological weapons never used them during a punishing bombardment. Never mind if you are asking yourself why the oft-invoked but never factually supported ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda didn’t lead to the predicted terrorist attacks in the United States.

Sit down, you’re rocking the boat.

The bright side of this is that it offers a valuable lesson in American history. Each time the United States becomes imperial it betrays the very keystone upon which its greatness rests. It suppresses dissent and suggests that national interest is more important than free speech. In the wake of its primacy after World War II, this became so pernicious that lives were ruined, not only by Communist Party membership, but also by thirdhand suggestions of it. Only a decade that put the lid on discourse as tightly as the ’50s did could have exploded into the free association of the ’60s.

The division between those who support the Iraqi war and those who do not has become an unbridgeable ravine of accusation and name-calling, as fraught an issue as this country has had since it first discovered abortion. The greatness of America is almost unrecognizable in the resulting maelstrom. Its most basic principles are mangled, when, in places like Albany, N.Y., a man is arrested at a mall for wearing a T shirt with the Biblical legend PEACE ON EARTH on the front and the musical legend GIVE PEACE A CHANCE on the back. (The mall has a policy that bans patrons from wearing clothing “with slogans that may incite a disturbance.” Let’s hope no one ever comes in with a shirt that reads FREE BEER IN THE FOOD COURT.)

The all-purpose accusation against dissenters is that they are “unpatriotic,” which is deeply ironic since those first patriots are celebrated for rebelling against government policies they considered wrong. Children learn of the greatness of those who spoke out against the policies of George III, then hear vilified those who do not agree with George W. How confusing. Almost as confusing as seeing your parents glued to “Access Hollywood” and then hearing them complain they can’t understand why celebrities believe anyone would pay attention to anything they have to say.

If the free exchange of ideas is temporarily suspended in the interest of “supporting our troops” (as though all soldiers are also of one mind about foreign policy), then what is the gift we bring to the Iraqi people? Old Navy fleece? Stuffed-crust pizza? Much of what we have to export as a nation is similarly transient, except for this: the right to elect leaders, to watch what they do through the vehicle of a free press, and then, if we choose, to damn them for doing it, in coffeehouses, at home, from the steps of the courthouse or the statehouse, in private and in public, too. If there is any justification for an imperial America, it is because this is the jewel in its crown.

Last week the war at home continued unabated; the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a former Reagan assistant press secretary, canceled an anniversary screening of the film “Bull Durham” because it stars Sarandon and her equally uncompliant companion, Tim Robbins. In a letter, he made the incendiary, baseless and, given his past life, clearly partisan accusation that the failure of the two actors to go along with a policy they cannot support puts American soldiers in harm’s way.

“May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.” A line from Robbins’s irate reply to the baseball guy? Nah, it’s Eisenhower at a time when the Constitution was mutilated by McCarthy and his minions, and dissent and subversion were constantly confused. And so it is in our time. If, in the shadow of the unilateralist power niche the United States will occupy in the foreseeable future, its citizens are pressured by their government, their communities and their neighbors to speak with one cautious voice, we will have saved Iraq and damned ourselves. In a democratic society, the only treason is silence.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 09:42 AM
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A great speech...I think Tim should run for president. Funny how the more talented actors and actresses tend to be liberal, while the no-talents (Chuck Norris, Arnie) tend to lean conservative.

As I have said before, our primary American news outlet here in Britain is Fox News, on which I can see all of the things to which Robbins refers...the way dissent is stepped on, the way GW is built up to be this glorious leader, the contempt that is shown for nations which don't meekly follow the US government...

Robbins own fine movie, 'Bob Roberts', is an excellent critique of the American right.

Manchester City 2011 FA Cup winners! 2012 Premier League Champions! 2014 League Cup winners and Premier League Champions! At last!!!!!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 10:18 AM
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wtf?? a "great speech" and that moron should run for Prez??

yuo're a student tard, right?

Robbins is a Hollywood leftytard and he has a nerve to say that his First Amendment right to free speech was compromised when his drivel is picked up by every wire service, newspaper, TV blah

in spite of that fact, the fucktard piss & moans about not having enough access to the media saying, "To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat"

wtf does he want? A constitutional right to have his drivel applauded and worshiped across the world?

and what about his long-time attention-whore gurlfriend Susan Sarandon? theres a site called stopDrLaura.com and this attention whore wrote a piece in which she said "I'm totally against wasting the airwaves to giving visibility to a person who is clearly in dire need of compassion, education, and a good shrink herself"

do yuo think Tim ever read that?

hollywood leftytards, i shit on them

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 12:42 PM
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Their free speech is intact. They just do not like the consequences because it might cost them popularity and money. Free speech does not include being able to express any opinion you want and not suffer financially or lose popularity over it. Their views are not shared by many Americans and many American are angry at them. Big deal. No one is stifling their ability to talk.

For instance, I really dislike Neely O'Hara, but she is, I hate to admit this, well liked on Broadway and very popular in her own right. Sure, I might kick her out of one of my shows and bad mouth her to industry insiders as a boozing, unprofessional doll-fiend married to a homosexual and belongs in a straightjacket, but if I go public with my views on Neely, then people/audiences might boycott my shows, not want me to be a Tony Award presenter, or not endorse their products. It is the price of expressing your opinion. I do not want my ticket sales and income to go down, so I keep my contempt for Neely non-public. No one is "stifling" my free speech, certainly not the government. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon can continue to express any opinion they like about the war, but it is not a violation of "free speech" when they are uninvited to events and some members of the public decide they do not like them anymore and do not want to see their films!

Whitney Houston and her receipts:

http://www.tennisforum.com/showthrea...17447&page=324
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen Lawson
Their free speech is intact. They just do not like the consequences because it might cost them popularity and money. Free speech does not include being able to express any opinion you want and not suffer financially or lose popularity over it. Their views are not shared by many Americans and many American are angry at them. Big deal. No one is stifling their ability to talk.

<big snip>

No one is "stifling" my free speech, certainly not the government. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon can continue to express any opinion they like about the war, but it is not a violation of "free speech" when they are uninvited to events and some members of the public decide they do not like them anymore and do not want to see their films!

Great post. I'm pretty much convinced by this...their free speech is not being stifled. Not exactly. Everything you say is true. In fact, it's a bit hard to take when someone who has access to the press club and gets his speech disseminated to a vast audience all over the world whines that his free speech is being stifled.

But do you honestly believe that there is no problem at all? From here, on the other side of the Pacific, a lot of these anecdotes are adding to suggest to me that there is a problem, even if it is not strictly a free speech problem.

The way it looks to me, a lot of people just do not want to tolerate opinions that they disagree with in relation to the war. Maybe those opinions are not being suppressed by the government, but an atmosphere in which it can come to be considered reasonable to boycott people, rescind invitations, etc, etc, because of their political views can come to seem like a witch hunt. It is a kind of political correctness of the Right just as unsavoury as the political correctness of the Left. In some cases, it's been said that people who have spoken up against the war have even been subjected to death threats or attacks on their property.

I can't tell from here how common this is, but if the impression being created is true then we are seeing an intolerance of dissenting opinion in American society which may be almost as bad as a threat to free speech in the strict sense.

You can't rebut that charge by saying that Robbins and so on still have their freedom of speech. Yes, they do. Yes, they seem confused about the issue by framing it as a freedom of speech issue...and it really does seem pompous when they get on their high horse about constitutional rights, etc.

However, this mood of intolerance, however it is labeled or mislabeled, either exists in the US or it doesn't (or it does to some degree). If you day it doesn't exist, let's hear your basis for saying that, rather than just shooting down the essentially peripheral claim that it is a free speech issue.

If it does exist, surely you don't defend it? There may be little that can be done about it, since people are not breaking the law (except those issuing death threats etc). But it can still be recognised and challenged socially...including on this board.

So what is it? Let's address the substance. Does this kind of intolerance really permeate American society at the moment or not, coz, if it does, there is a point of substance beneath the blather of Robbins and others.

Vin, kvinder og sang
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 01:35 PM
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I see their point, it seems some people have really overreacted to them and their views. They are certainly not alone in being against the war and the President. I would not call them traitors, though I do not feel bad that there is a backlash (if you can call it that, it seems pretty minor what has "happened" to them) against them. While I do not agree with what they are saying, who cares what they are saying. I hate this "woe is me" attitude of some of these celebrities, like, ooh, I expressed my views to the public and now some people are mad at me and now I was disinvited to the charity party, boo hoo. That is the risk they take. They need to get thicker skins (like me, I'm a barracuda) or shut up. If they presented their views in a manner that was a little less over-the-top rhetoric/tania/symbionese liberation army fashion, people might not be so mad.

Whitney Houston and her receipts:

http://www.tennisforum.com/showthrea...17447&page=324
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 02:49 PM
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I have no idea or example of Tim or Susan presenting views that were "over-the-top rhetoric/tania/symbionese liberation army fashion". Everything they have said has been said with reason and logic, backed by facts. They may be many things but one thing they're certainly not is uninformed.

Downplaying the significance of the United Way appearance, fine. But how do you justify cancelling a Baseball Hall of Fame event just b/c the President of the HOF, a former Reagan assistant press secretary, thought they were dangerous to the troops?? The reasoning behind that mode of thought I will never get...

And freedom of speech does "NOT" cover making death threats or attacking someone's home just b/c they express a view different from your own.

And they are not complaining b/c people disagree with them. Most of the celebrities fully expect that people will disagree and will voice those disagreements. What most of them object to is being branded as "Saddam-lovers" or "not supportive of the troops" or "unpatriotic" just b/c they disagree with the government on this "war". If anyone even bothered to listen to what Martin Sheen said about the reaction to his anti-war stance, they would not have been so quick to generalize & stereotype. Or then maybe not... But he said he fully expected the consequences of his stance but did wonder why it was seen as "unpatriotic" or "unAmerican".

What's so funny about this whole thing is that the same people who thought it was perfectly acceptable to pillory & pound on President Clinton for 8 years and were very vocally against the war in Kosovo - remember Trent Lott's doozy "We can support our troops without supporting the President" - these same people now have no such tolerance for anyone espousing views like they once did.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old Apr 18th, 2003, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GogoGirl
I just love this article and Tim Robbins.


"YOU GO TIM"


http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0416-01.htm


Published on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 by CommonDreams.org

'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'

[cut]


Actor Tim Robbins speaks about his anti-war stance at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday, April 15, 2003. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

[cut]

And then came the speech: You are either with us or against us. And the bombing began. And the old paradigm was restored as our leader encouraged us to show our patriotism by shopping and by volunteering to join groups that would turn in their neighbor for any suspicious behavior.

In the 19 months since 9-11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred. Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear. A unified American public has grown bitterly divided, and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state.

[cut]



Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers, and by their fair and balanced electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. (Laughter.) Apologies to Gore Vidal. (Applause.)

[cut]


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.

Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.

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I remember when the Columbine High School shootings happened. President Clinton criticized Hollywood for contributing to this terrible tragedy -- this, as we were dropping bombs over Kosovo. Could the violent actions of our leaders contribute somewhat to the violent fantasies of our teenagers? Or is it all just Hollywood and rock and roll?

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And these same people that tolerate the real violence of war don't want to see the result of it on the nightly news. Unlike the rest of the world, our news coverage of this war remains sanitized, without a glimpse of the blood and gore inflicted upon our soldiers or the women and children in Iraq. Violence as a concept, an abstraction -- it's very strange.

As we applaud the hard-edged realism of the opening battle scene of "Saving Private Ryan," we cringe at the thought of seeing the same on the nightly news. We are told it would be pornographic. We want no part of reality in real life. We demand that war be painstakingly realized on the screen, but that war remain imagined and conceptualized in real life.

And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago. (Applause.) With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot- one comedian has more guts than most politicians. (Applause.) We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who can understand the Constitution, congressman who don't in a moment of fear abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war to the executive branch. And, please, can we please stop the congressional sing-a- longs? (Laughter.)

In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce. And it doesn't take much to shift the tide. My 11-year-old nephew, mentioned earlier, a shy kid who never talks in class, stood up to his history teacher who was questioning Susan's patriotism. "That's my aunt you're talking about. Stop it." And the stunned teacher backtracks and began stammering compliments in embarrassment.

Sportswriters across the country reacted with such overwhelming fury at the Hall of Fame that the president of the Hall admitted he made a mistake and Major League Baseball disavowed any connection to the actions of the Hall's president. A bully can be stopped, and so can a mob. It takes one person with the courage and a resolute voice.

The journalists in this country can battle back at those who would rewrite our Constitution in Patriot Act II, or "Patriot, The Sequel," as we would call it in Hollywood. We are counting on you to star in that movie. Journalists can insist that they not be used as publicists by this administration. (Applause.) The next White House correspondent to be called on by Ari Fleischer should defer their question to the back of the room, to the banished journalist du jour. (Applause.) And any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence or intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation. You have, whether you like it or not, an awesome responsibility and an awesome power: the fate of discourse, the health of this republic is in your hands, whether you write on the left or the right. This is your time, and the destiny you have chosen.

We lay the continuance of our democracy on your desks, and count on your pens to be mightier. Millions are watching and waiting in mute frustration and hope - hoping for someone to defend the spirit and letter of our Constitution, and to defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism.

Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us -- right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation. Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years. To do so we must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us -- like freedom, the First Amendment and, yes, baseball. (Applause.)

###

Come on, that is tania/symbionese liberation army stuff right there, and I did not have to look far. Political conspiracies, sanitized news, politicians do not know what is constitutional, secret messages in air waves, scores of people too scared to speak out. Please!

It is only the Baseball Hall of Fame. It is not different than the charity event. Believe me, if Robbins and Saradon were in charge of some function they would uninvite hawks and others. They are just angry it happened to them and they are angry that the current President has few ties to Hollywood and does not care what their views are. If he and Saradon want to give themselves persecuted Christ complexes, then that is their business but I do not have to buy it. Again, I think people have overreacted to their views, but given their history of screwing up the Academy Awards in the past (they made some bizarre speech as presenters at least once) and generally being vocal about some unpopular views, they have born the brunt of many "celebrity haters/blamers" perhaps wrongly. But I do find it funny that they cannot take it, now they are playing the martyred victims!

Whitney Houston and her receipts:

http://www.tennisforum.com/showthrea...17447&page=324
Helen Lawson is offline  
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