Last Sunday night, my husband and I were eagerly anticipating watching the Academy Awards. We prepared a feast of fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried onion rings over jalapeño cheese grits, topped off with salsa (we like to eat healthy). We were having a lovely evening until disaster struck--i.e., Sean Penn gave his acceptance speech for his Oscar win for best actor for his performance in “Milk” (the video is below).
After watching that grotesque display, I literally wanted to throw my grits at the TV (I didn’t because my husband loves his new flat screen TV). There was so much wrong with Penn’s acceptance speech that I don’t even know where to begin, but I will try.
Second of all, Mr. Penn then went on to say that he was glad to live in a country that would “elect an elegant man as president”. Come again? Did he really just say that? I mean, there have been a lot of “elegant men” throughout history who have also been really bad men. The Christian Bale character in “American Psycho” was an “elegant man” (not to compare President Obama to him--I’m just trying to make a point). I, personally, would prefer that a competent man be elected president, rather than an “elegant man”. Furthermore, as far as competency goes, President Obama seems to be failing the test. Now, John McCain is not an “elegant man”, but he is a heroic man (something that Sean Penn knows absolutely nothing about) and a competent man. Would Mr. Penn still be proud to live in this country if John McCain had been elected instead of Barack Obama? I doubt it. Anyway, I think that someone needs to explain to Sean Penn how patriotism works--you don’t take your ball home and do propaganda for Iran and Iraq just because your guy loses. Patriotism means loving your country even if your “elegant” candidate doesn’t win.
And finally, Sean Penn rounded out his God-awful, preachy speech by stating that people who voted for Proposition Eight (the gay marriage ban in CA) should, “sit and reflect (like they were children that he was putting in the corner) and anticipate their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren’s eye’s”. This coming from a man who was previously married to Madonna (cough, trash bag, cough) and whose favorite pastime is punching out photographers, but I digress.
Well, Mr. Penn’s speech got me thinking. I actually am open to gay marriage (I happen to think that marriage is good for society, and--as Bill O’Reilly has pointed-- that gay people adopt children that nobody else will adopt). However, I would be willing to bet that my grandmother isn’t. I mean, I have never actually taken the time to ask her how she feels about Proposition Eight, because, when I do get to spend time with her, I value our conversations too much to waste time boring her with minutia such as how she feels about Proposition Eight. But, she is a devout Catholic and is staunchly pro-life, so I’d be willing to bet that she would have voted for the ban on gay marriage had she been given the opportunity. However, my grandmother has raised eleven children (one died of spinal bifida when he was ten), the youngest of which is gay. She loves my uncle so much (he is an awesome guy) that she, and one of my aunts, even made his gown when he was queen of a gay Mardi Gras ball (trust me, it was a big honor). My grandmother was also the head of her local chapter of The Ladies of Charity, and she has literally spent her entire life serving other people. She has absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed of in my eyes.
Oh, and on a side note, Mr. Elegant himself, Barack Obama, is against gay marriage. I wonder if Sean Penn thinks that President Obama should be ashamed of himself?
Now, speaking of shame (a word that I didn’t think was even in Mr. Penn’s vocabulary), in November 2008, Sean Penn personally visited Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro--two very anti-American dictators. He wrote about his adventures in The Nation; however, you can see him discuss his travels in the video below where he implies that Pat Robertson made him go visit these two thugs (that’s like a child saying “The devil made me do it“). In fact, Penn even has the audacity to compare our elections here in the US to the ones in Venezuela by saying that “they have imperfect elections, but so do we.” Unbelievable.
Thankfully, I am not the only sane person out there who thinks that it’s disgraceful for a man of Sean Penn’s fame and stature to visit publicly with, and give a platform to, anti-American dictators. James Kirchick wrote an excellent piece for The Advocate (America’s leading gay publication) where he calls Penn out for being “a friend to anti-gay dictators”. Kirchick (who is also an assistant editor at The New Republic and an occasional columnist for the WSJ) specifically calls Penn a “useful idiot” who morally equates the US Guantanamo Bay prison to Cuban jails that house the Castro brother’s political enemies. Kirchick further points out that, “Fidel Castro ordered the internment of gay people in prison labor camps where they were murdered or worked to death for their “counter-revolutionary tendencies“”. Not to mention, Kirchick also points out that, “Raul Castro was notorious for ordering the summary execution of his opponents, including people whose only crime was their homosexuality. This is the man with whom Penn was “in stitches” knocking back glasses of red wine.” But, best of all, Kirchick also quotes the president of The Human Rights Foundation as saying, “That Sean Penn would be honored by anyone, let alone the gay community, for having stood by a dictator that puts gays in concentration camps is mind boggling”. So, Sean Penn sips wine with a guy who threw gay people in gulags, but the people of CA should “anticipate their great shame” for voting for Proposition Eight? Interesting.
Now, it is also interesting to note that, in his column, James Kirchick also discusses the latest State Department human rights report on Hugo Chavez which sites, “unlawful killings, disappearances involving security forces, torture and abuse of detainees, harsh prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, official intimidation, attacks on independent media, violence against women, and trafficking in persons” as well as a multitude of other human rights violations. Not to mention, Kirchick also points out that Chavez is good buddies with Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, another enemy of America. Oh, but silly me, I forgot--the people of CA are the ones who should be ashamed because we all know that voting for Proposition Eight is far more heinous a crime than anything that Chavez or the Castro brothers have ever done.
By the way, James Kirchick even hits Sean Penn on visiting Iraq in 2002, to meet with cronies of Saddam Hussein. Kirchick states that, “There were principled arguments to be made against The Iraq War, and means of arguing against it that didn’t require the knowing exploitation of oneself as a propaganda tool for a totalitarian regime”. I’m sorry, but after reading this quote from Kirchick, I can’t help but think that Sean Penn has literally become the caricature of the idiotic Hollywood liberal that he was portrayed as in Team America (see video below).
[On a side note, the Team America guys (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) must have really gotten to Sean Penn, because he wrote them a scathing letter that you all might be interested in reading, but I digress.]
Oh, and here is one other thing of interest about James Kirchick’s column. The LA Times Blog wrote a piece about his column. In the their piece, the LA Times asked if Sean Penn was “a pal to anti-gay dictators”. Furthermore, the LA Times quoted Kirchick as saying that, Penn’s piece in The Nation was “a love letter to dictators” and as comparing Penn’s column to “the notorious dispatches of starry-eyed liberals sent back home during the early years of the Soviet Union, describing it as a “worker’s paradise”, neglecting to mention the disappearance of political dissidents, or any other such inconvenient truths about communism.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Now, it should also be noted that Sean Penn’s recent column in The Nation is not the first “love letter to dictators” or rogue regimes that Penn has written. In August of 2005, Penn took a trip to Iran and wrote five puff pieces about it for The San Francisco Chronicle. Mr. Penn begins his fifth column by claiming that the US (specifically the C.I.A.) has ties to a terrorist group called the MKO (Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization). Now, Mr. Penn does site Newsweek and The Times of London as his sources, but provides absolutely no links or direct quotes to back up his claims. Furthermore, in his column, Penn writes about a sit down that he had with one of Ahmadinejad’s cronies, Hamid Reza Asefi (Penn describes him as likeable and smart), who is the Deputy Secretary and Spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of Iran. Penn quotes Asefi as saying that, “Democracy is progressing every day”, even though in a previous paragraph, Penn admits that the recent presidential election was rigged and that no Iranian that he had talked to had said that they were going to vote for Ahmadinejad. Penn also quotes Asefi as saying that when the US leaves Iraq, that “they will not be well thought of”. OK, well what I’d like to know is why didn’t Sean Penn--being the gay advocate that he is--ask Mr. Asefi about homosexual rights in Iran, or human rights in general? Furthermore, why didn’t Mr. Penn also think to ask Mr. Asefi if it’s true that Iran is killing American soldiers (I suggest looking at the pictures in this link)? Possibly because he was too interested in trying to tie the CIA to terrorism to remember to ask about Iran’s egregious record of human rights violations and it’s attacks on US soldiers.
Moreover, I’m sure that we are all familiar with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously saying that, "We do not have homosexuals in Iran" during his speech at Columbia University. Granted, Ahmadinejad is known for saying many wacky things such as calling the Holocaust “a myth”, calling for Isreal to be “wiped off of the map”, and calling for the destruction of the US, but I digress. However, if Sean Penn is curious, the reason why there are no homosexuals in Iran is because they hang homosexuals in Iran (Allahpundit has a link to the photos in his blog that I linked to--I warn you, they are disturbing). Oh yeah, but I forgot. Silly me. It is the people of CA who voted for the ban on gay marriage (many of whom I’m sure see Penn’s movies) that should be ashamed--not Sean Penn for gallivanting around with anti-gay dictators, and for writing a puff piece about a regime that hangs gay people.
So, in conclusion, I am not advocating demonstrations and protests outside of Sean Penn’s pictures. Quite frankly, I’m not a sign-waving, protesty kind of gal--that’s not how I roll. Hey, this is America and everyone has freedom of speech (unlike Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran). Therefore, Sean Penn is free to say as much stupid crap as he wants--but I’m also free not to subsidize it. In other words, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna give my hard-earned money to some bozo (by buying tickets to his movies), so that I can help fund him to go prancing around the globe in order to sip wine with the world’s worst dictators and anti-American regimes, who commit egregious human rights violations, all the while having the unmitigated gall to tell his fellow Americans to “anticipate their great shame”, simply because they don’t vote on every issue exactly like he wants them to. Sean Penn’s behavior is well past the ridiculous and I’m not going to put up with it any more. By the way, this will not be easy for me because I actually do like a lot of Sean Penn’s movies and I think that he’s a talented actor (I loved “Mystic River” and “The Game”). However, unlike Sean Penn, I actually do have a sense of shame--which is why, until he stops acting the fool, I can’t support his extra-curricular activities any longer by buying tickets to his movies. Enough is enough. Here is where I take my stand.
Oh, and one more, thing. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that, after Sean Penn’s self-righteous, judgmental, turkey of a speech, the Academy is now wishing that they had given the Oscar to Mickey Rourke.
This diary is cross-posted on The Minority Report.