Click Here North Star Writers Group
Syndicated Content.
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Alan Hurwitz
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Feature Page
David J. Pollay - The Happiness Answer
Cindy Droog - The Working Mom
The Laughing Chef
Mike Ball - What I've Learned So Far
Bob Batz - Senior Moments
D.F. Krause - Business Ridiculous
Stephen Silver
  Stephen's Column Archive

April 30, 2007

Judge Global Warming on Merits, Not Sheryl Crow


Last week, in one of the decade's more embarrassing celebrity political moments, singer Sheryl Crow suggested that "a limitation be put” on how much toilet paper can be used per person per sitting. The suggestion came in a Huffington Post blog post which Crow also suggested other ways in which we can help the environment in our everyday lives.


Conservatives, global warming skeptics and others generally contemptuous of entertainment types quickly seized on the comment, citing the mediocre singer and ex-girlfriend of Lance Armstrong as just another clueless Hollywood lefty, “out of touch” with regular people. There was also much (admittedly deserved) mockery of how exactly the new TP limitation would be handled or enforced.


The flap came in the midst of the Stop Global Warming College Tour, which Crow is leading along with fellow activist Laurie David. Crow, for her part, said the suggestion of a uniform national standard for toilet tissue was “just a joke,” and also made news a few days later for fulfilling the common liberal fantasy of berating Karl Rove in public, as she and David confronted the powerful Bush adviser at the White House Correspondents Association dinner.


Was what Crow said stupid and ridiculous? Oh yes. Did it make her look awful? Sure it did. Does this mean that people who believe in global warming are all idiots too? No, of course not.


And that’s the central fallacy here. Just because someone we don’t like supports a cause does not, on its own, drain that cause itself of legitimacy. This is especially true in the global warming debate, in which a hypocrisy hunt is underway at all times from warming deniers seeking to make some celebrity’s alleged overuse of energy/planes/resources into a bigger story than climate change itself.


We saw this even more with the recent “scandal” over Al Gore’s house. Reports surfaced in February from a not-exactly-unbiased think tank called the Tennessee Center for Policy Research that Gore had spent more on energy per month than most Americans do per year. The reason, it was later reported, is that Gore purchases “green energy” which increases the cost of powering his home, while the think tank doing the accusing claimed – falsely, according to Time magazine – that it had received the records from Nashville Electric Service.


But even if the accusations were completely true and Gore were an absolute hypocrite, would it make what he says about global warming any less true? Climate change is a major part of the national conversation these days, with major corporations even getting in the act, essentially because of Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth.


It’s often that the messenger makes us uncomfortable, while their message is right on. Some of us may not be comfortable with the “damn dirty hippies” waving Palestinian flags and Bush/Hitler signs at those rallies back in 2003. But guess what? They were right about Iraq, and a lot of us weren’t. Meanwhile, there seems to be a tendency on the right to support something (i.e., the president) just because the left (or the media) is against it – or to oppose someone (i.e. John McCain) because the media is for it.


We're going to see more of this later this summer when Michael Moore's documentary about the American health care system, Sicko, is released to theaters. Even many liberals, such as myself, were disgusted by the condescension, sanctimony and questionable ethical practices of Moore’s earlier work, and it’s likely that we’ll see more of the same in the new film.


But the release of “Sicko,” while coinciding with the ramping up of the presidential campaign, is likely to insert health care policy, and the possibility of universal health care, back into political discourse after a long absence. And following the 2004 campaign – in which Republicans often acted as though the controversial filmmaker was the Democratic nominee for president – we’re likely headed towards a future in which every politician who supports health care reform is equated with Michael Moore.


There are many different factors to consider in choosing which causes and issues to support. But in making that decision, the positions and comments of celebrities should be very low on the list.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column # SS041. Request permission to publish here.