Saturday, September 30, 2017

Celebrities, People, and Politics/Intellectual Debate

In recent times, it seems more and more frequent that celebrities, often entertainers, are weighing in on politics and complex intellectual subjects.  They’re vocal on things like racial inequity, legislation, foreign policy, and so on.  Of course, every single person has the right to voice an opinion and to have their opinion heard.  However, just because you have an opinion, it doesn’t mean that anyone has to value it.  Is math related to science?

I think a major issue in public debate nowadays is confusion around the right to voice an opinion and whether or not others have to appreciate your opinion.  There is a big difference between restricting one’s right to an opinion or to voice an opinion and disagreement with an opinion and/or thinking an idea is dumb.  For example, you have complete freedom to think that the world is flat, but that doesn’t mean that I have to respect that thought; just as you have the right to believe something stupid and voice that stupid idea, I have the right to believe you are stupid and voice my opinion that you are stupid.  Everyone can have an opinion and has the freedom to express it, but that is not the same as freedom from objection and criticism.

Similarly, many celebrities appear to be confused about their position in the world.  Celebrities are extremely well-known and have large platforms on which they can voice their opinions.  That said, regarding intellectual debate, it’s important to remember why they have these platforms.  Did they gain their popularity from their ability to debate on politics?  Oftentimes, no.  Actually, in the case of entertainers, it’s often simply because they’re entertaining.  So, if you’re popular, does it also mean that you have something smart to say?  No, not necessarily.

The one last part that people also forget is there is a difference between respecting or not respecting an opinion and respecting or not respecting the person.  Just because I think your idea is stupid does not mean I think you are stupid.  Actually, it doesn’t even matter if I think you’re stupid anyways.  The truth is I can think your idea is stupid and that you’re not intelligent while also respecting you as a person and your freedom to be, think, and say anything.

Intellectual debate and progress do not give out participation awards.  Having money and popularity and using both in order to push ideas does not guarantee that people will value your ideas because they might be garbage ideas; popularity doesn’t necessarily correlate with intelligence.  As a result, while celebrities (and all people, for that matter) have every right to an opinion and to voice an opinion, don’t be surprised if everyone thinks your ideas are stupid.  Know your strengths and your place in this world and get over yourself.  And if you’re lacking in an area and want to be better, then work hard and get better.  The same goes for each and every one of the rest of us.  But, if you can’t handle people calling you stupid and don’t want to do anything to be better, do the next best thing: Blame it on fast foods.

- Steve