Too much publicity

 

I am sick and tired of Charlie Sheen. First, his show “Two and a Half Men” isn’t funny. Or even good, for that matter. How it managed to stick around all these years is slightly baffling. Second, he has proven himself many times over to be violent, narcissistic, possibly antisemitic and a carrier of foot-in-mouth disease. But he is famous, so his antics/drunken rants/fights with his girlfriends (“goddesses”)/alcohol problem are all fodder for the 24-hour news cycle.

While I understand that celebrity coverage is something of interest to many – even me, though not regarding Sheen – and that it sells papers, the recent constant coverage of Sheen’s increasingly loony activities is doing nothing but encouraging his behavior. Even when the articles are negative. Just look at his newly-acquired Twitter followers. You don’t get 1 million followers in just over a day without a massive media blitz backing you up. I understand how the nonsensical ramblings of this unhinged TV star could be entertaining, in a shaudenfreude type of way. But really, Sheen needs help, not more attention. That just prompts him to keep doing what he’s doing, for, apparently, it works.

Who was it that said all publicity is good publicity? They need to be smacked.

The same thing is happening with the recent coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the rights of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, to picket military funerals. The church protests funerals not because it is anti-war, but because it feels that every military death is part of God’s revenge on America for its acceptance of homosexuality. The Supreme Court ruled that the Westboro Church is protected under the First Amendment’s right to free speech, and is free to continue protesting, as long as the group doesn’t disrupt the funeral.

I don’t disagree with this decision. The Westboro Baptist Church’s message is hateful and despicable, but they have the right to protest peacefully, as does every other American. Our country was built on this right to free speech. There is a saying: “I may not like what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” (Any ideas on where that came from? I’ve always liked it.) In other countries, speech much less vitriolic and hateful would lead to imprisonment or death. Though it would be great to remove the Westboro Church from the streets, doing so would jeopradize everyone’s right to express his/herself.

But that does not mean the Westboro Church has to remain in the news for so long or be the subject of such extensive commentary. Yes, the case is noteworthy because all (or most) of the Supreme Court’s cases are noteworthy. But enough with the coverage, please. More attention just galvanizes the Westboro Church to step up their game. The best plan of attack to get the Church to leave? Ignore them. Without controversy to feed on, the group will disappear.

So, I call for a moratorium on coverage of Charlie Sheen, the Westboro Church and any other person or group acting stupidly. Without attention, they’ll just fade into the background. Starting now – I know that by even writing this piece, I am adding to the coverage and the attention. Sigh. None of us are immune.

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