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Friday, August 14, 2009

Moral vanity as a political position

There was a clip of Brad Pitt on Yahoo this morning. He was being interviewed in New Orleans, where he has been helping rebuild the Ninth Ward. The interviewer asked about the t-shirts that have been appearing which say "Brad Pitt for Mayor" (of New Orleans). Pitt replied, "I'm running on the gay marriage, no religion, legalization and taxation of marijuana platform. I don't have a chance."

He was being somewhat facetious, but at the same time he seemed to be just brimming with pride. "I don't have a chance," he said, looking very pleased with himself, as if it took courage to state views so out of sync with the rest of Hollywood.

Yes Brad, you are that rare, bold iconoclast who's willing to stand up against the conservative Hollywood establishment and state your uniquely liberal views.

It never fails to amaze me how people will take credit for moral courage for spouting conventional views. The only thing it would take courage for a Hollywood celebrity to do would be to point out the vacuousness and moral vanity of all the movie stars who congratulate themselves on their liberalism. Their political stances almost always seem to be based on a vague sense of political correctness and what they think will make them look good, rather than a reasoned analysis of the history, social ramifications, and the costs and benefits of any particular issue.

The most courageous politico on the scene today is probably Clarence Thomas, who has earned the undying enmity of the vast majority of black Americans by daring to break away from their narrow self-interest and near-monolithic political stances. Thomas is against affirmative action, for the death penalty, and has generally sided with the police and against defendants in cases involving unreasonable search and seizure issues. For this he has been called an Uncle Tom and a traitor, and is widely reviled by black people. Yet in the face of all that he continues to stand up for his principles.

Regardless of whether you agree with his stances, you have to admit that he shows real courage, unlike Brad Pitt and his ilk.

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