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Terry vs. Tony
April 14, 2004 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Tony Blair: Why we must never abandon this historic struggle in Iraq. Terry Jones: Tony really must try harder.
posted by homunculus (20 comments total)

 
Thanks, homunculus. I give Mr Jones an A+. My brain-- addled by years of teaching-- still shifts into correction mode when I hear speeches. I would fail Tony Blair and most of the current U.S. administration for plagiarism if given half a chance. None of their words seem to be their own. These odd phrases and keep popping up. I wonder if Cliffnotes has a "world leadership" series?
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 12:15 PM on April 14, 2004


I love entertainers that play politics. They get to be clever AND unaccountable!

Really, can humans discuss world events without caring what Tim Robbins or Terry Jones or Al Franken (or any conservative superstar) have to say about it? This isn't a knock on the post, more just exasperation with celebs poking their noses into real life every once in a while and abusing the public trust they hold.

And I'm not sure about that 3/10 either. Even if you accept most of the unsubstantiated claims and accusations in Jones's op/ed piece, Blair still deserves at least a passing grade. Then again, I wasn't "Toad" in the "The Wind and the Willows"
posted by loquax at 12:19 PM on April 14, 2004


more just exasperation with celebs poking their noses into real life every once in a while

So you don't believe that Terry Jones (or any celebrity) actually lives in the real world where these events are taking place? Do you think he just exists as the funny man in your talking box in your living room? You have the right to speak your mind in any forum you can get a hearing -- do you believe that Terry Jones genuinely has fewer rights than you do, by virtue of his occupation?
posted by scody at 12:32 PM on April 14, 2004


What is a comedian but an op/ed writer with a sense of humour. Actors on the other hand, should shut up.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:48 PM on April 14, 2004


Pardon the bluntness, loquax, but do you know a single thing about Terry Jones and his experience in this matter? In fact, to get straight to the point, exactly who the fuck are you, and what position are you specifically in to immediately determine what authority someone else has or doesn't have in political discourse?

Sorry if that's rude and all, but I got sick of the "shut up and sing" bullshit about two fucking years ago.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:48 PM on April 14, 2004


do you believe that Terry Jones genuinely has fewer rights than you do, by virtue of his occupation?

Of course not, and I don't blame the individuals as much as the media for propagating what is, for the most part, uninformed lay opinion on matters of great importance and complexity.

You or I (or Terry Jones) have a right to our opinions, but if I speak, it is taken at face value, as the opinion of someone who is not involved and who is not going to be held accountable for what I say. When a celebrity speaks, by the simple virtue of being a celebrity, their views undeservedly carry more weight, particularly with the under-informed. Chances are that this is a bad thing (but not always of course). Would the Guardian have published his piece if he had used a fake name? Is he qualified to judge the policies of the government? I don't think so, but maybe he is. By the same token, I wouldn't care what Joey from Friends thinks about Tibet, or what Will Smith thinks about Australian interest rates.

The fault though is ultimately with the papers, and magazines and TV channels that want to sell copy and advertising, and the best way of doing that is not with dry intellectual dissection by Cambridge profs, but with comedians who pass off casual opinion as truth. But that's just my opinion, take it for what it's worth.

On preview, I didn't mean to make you so mad, XQUZPHYR, but I judged Jones on the basis of what he wrote, and in my opinion, it was uninformed, trite, biased and not worthy of publication as a serious piece in any way. And you prove my point, I'm nobody, feel free to ignore me, I'm not being shoved down your throat by major news organizations.
posted by loquax at 12:56 PM on April 14, 2004


I'll probably be banned from ever purchasing a MeFi Jersey for saying this, but if Tony Blair were president of the United States, I'd probably support the Iraq war. I bet he even writes his own speeches.

Jones is clever. He's funny. His attack is as much rhetorical as it is substantive, though, and I think Blair's speech holds its own against most of Jones attack. The exception being that Jones lays the framework for a central and important doubt: do most Iraqis want us there or not? Or perhaps a finer point: is the insurgency mainstream?
posted by weston at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2004


Should celbs be apolitical then? All of this is guess work, what you or I or most politician say is taken with a grain of salt. There seems to be a great push to realitivize (sp?) truth, therefore we can not assume anyone knows what they are talking about. Jones piece is meant as humor and is an opinion. He makes part of his living on trying to be funny thus it seems a valid article. From the paper's POV having a well known person write an article is more likely to sell papers as more people will be interested in reading it, and coming to their own decisions of the validity or humor of the article. Like TV, if you don't like it ignore it. We can select where we get news from and if celb Op/Ed peices are not your bag no prob. Plenty of other things to read eh?
cheers.
posted by edgeways at 1:19 PM on April 14, 2004


Choosing whether or not to read a link from a website you don't need to go to from a newspaper in a different country that freely chose to pick an editorial and print it for a paper people choose whether or not to buy is shoving something down your throat?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:21 PM on April 14, 2004


Exactly what qualifications do you need to be a politician, again? If any old arse can be an MP, any old arse can talk about what they get up to.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:24 PM on April 14, 2004


That Tony Blair op-ed is just terrible. This is supposed to be a left-wing Labour leader, yet he comes off sounding like nothing more than a more eloquent version of George W. Bush. The only point he really has is that withdrawing from Iraq now would be a disaster, and I'm glad that he also points out that terrorism is based on a wilful perversion of the true religion of Islam -- but the rest is nothing but that standard "they hate us for our freedom"-style bollocks.

This sentence, in particular, did for me: terrorism and unstable states with WMD are just two sides of the same coin. With the number of times Blair's been through the wringer about the lack of WMD in Iraq, the fact that he had the gall to put that in is just appalling. Next election, I'm voting for the liberal democrats.

Oh yeah, and Terry Jones' opinion is about as important as yours or mine. The difference is, someone was silly enough to let him put his opinion in a newspaper.
posted by reklaw at 1:30 PM on April 14, 2004


You or I (or Terry Jones) have a right to our opinions, but if I speak, it is taken at face value, as the opinion of someone who is not involved and who is not going to be held accountable for what I say.

I disagree. I am perfectly capable of judging the quality of somebody's argument based on a number of factors completely unrelated to his or her fame (or lack thereof). I am perfectly capable of judging based on logic, the use of facts to support premises, ideological framework, etc. I am perfectly capable of giving more or less weight to the opinion of someone based on his or her experience or scholarship in a particular field of knowledge.

That's why I can strongly disagree with the opinions of a celebrity like, say, Mel Gibson and believe that he should be held accountable for his hemmng and hawing on whether or not he supports his father's Holocaust denials, and can be persuaded to thoughtfully consider the arguments and opinions of, say, a non-celebrity coworker or person I meet at a party who is intelligent and well-versed in the subject at hand.

If celebrity opinion really does magically carry so much more political "weight," as you contend, we'd have seen millions more people showing up for antiwar demonstrations one day ("Famous person Sean Penn is against the war. Must. Go. Protest.") and then joining the counter-demonstrations the next ("Famous person Drew Carrey supports the war. Must. Show. Support.").
posted by scody at 1:34 PM on April 14, 2004


Should celbs be apolitical then?

Honestly, I'd like to think that if I was a basketball star or something, I'd encourage people to think for themselves rather than pay attention to what I say, but who knows, being handed a microphone is pretty tempting.

and coming to their own decisions of the validity or humor of the article

That's the problem, most people don't have time to come to their own opinions and determine the validity of what is being presented to them as "news" in a "newspaper". Maybe I'm being too harsh on Jones, but I would hope that media organizations would take their responsibility to distribute informed and elevated discourse seriously. Sure truth is a fuzzy concept, but politicians are accountable for what they say, as are journalists and editorial staff. If they screw up, they're kicked out of office or fired. If Jones screws up, he's not getting kicked out of the guild, or whatever. My problem is far more with the medium Jones chose (and the fact that the medium chose him) rather than his message. Tell it to variety, or put it on a blog, or something.

Of course, you're right though, if I don't like it, I don't have to read it. The problem is when it's being discussed and all I feel like saying is "he was a python for crying out loud!" Not that that's a bad thing.

On preview:

XQUZYPHYR - I wasn't referring so much to Terry Jones when I said that, more to the celeb watching culture and news organzations reporting on every celebrity opinion.

Blue Stone - The qualifications for a politician are that they are elected and then are accountable to some degree, which means that can't (and usually don't) just spout off without thinking. But yes, they are usually old arses.

reklaw - Maybe the Blair peice wasn't the best, but since when do Blair's party's economics have anything to do with foreign policy? He may be Labour, but that doesn't necessarily preclude him from supporting Republican foreign policy.

Scody - I have no doubt you are capable, but I wonder about most people who have about 10 minutes to determine what's happening in their city, country, and planet every day. I would hope that they wouldn't waste it on fluff. But point taken about the protests.
posted by loquax at 1:47 PM on April 14, 2004


This has not been the first time Terry Jones has commented on the US Goverment policy on iraq. It has the same kind of crude analogy and is not beyond criticism.

Surely, however, basing this on the idea that someone becomes such a celebrity they suddenly no longer have a voice is just as facile. At what point does someones notoriety deny somone a right to have their voice aired in a newspaper the same way that any other columnist have. If an idiot-filter existed for newspaper columnists we'd have a rather large ink stockpile.
posted by DaRiLo at 1:51 PM on April 14, 2004


IIRC Terry Jones read History at Oxford, which should probably mean something.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:16 PM on April 14, 2004


Not that it really matters but...

Terry excelled at English but had a strong dislike for maths and sciences and he nearly failed his A-levels due to a misreading of the set questions. He spent an extra year in the sixth form, during which time he applied to Cambridge to be interviewed by Gonville and Caius college, where he was described as a mixture of "simplicity and sophistication" and invited to take the entrance examination. He also took the exam for St. Edmund Hall at Oxford, a place he didn't really want to go to. Oxford offered him a place studying English, and he took it, just days before Cambridge would reply and invite him to join them. He ponders if he'd joined Cambridge whether he would've gotten involved in the imposing and slightly scary Footlights side of things..

From here.
posted by loquax at 4:09 PM on April 14, 2004


I bet he even writes his own speeches.

Reverse the roles--can you imagine, especially after last night's performance, Prime Minister George Bush taking questions from the House of Commons ? Whew--chickenhawk pate !
posted by y2karl at 4:09 PM on April 14, 2004


Cultures need communicators. No period in history has been without influential people who speak for the times for no reason other than...people decide to listen to them. What gave Galileo the right to spout off about the solar system, other than being a privellged rich little Venician? Why do we give a shit what Mark Twain had to say?

All through history there has been a tradition of artists, philosophers, religious leaders, and just generally famous people to...well...talk about things publically. That's the way the western world works, and its part of what makes it great. Bitching and moaning and demanding that they just shut up because their fame gives them more influence than the average man is pretty low...rather, if you want to be involved in the public debate, work towards it.

Famous people who speak out don't have to be accountable to some kind of "Royal Commission Into Celebrity Mouthing Off"...they are exposed before the whole public who will take them or leave them as necessary. Unless you lack faith in the intelligence of the public, of course...
posted by Jimbob at 5:52 PM on April 14, 2004


reklaw - Maybe the Blair peice wasn't the best, but since when do Blair's party's economics have anything to do with foreign policy? He may be Labour, but that doesn't necessarily preclude him from supporting Republican foreign policy.

- Are you joking, Tony Benn and Micheal Foot would give you a good duffing for that statement. The GOP in its curent guise and the PLP are diametrically opposed, ideologically speaking. I am sure Tony Blair has convinced himself that he is leading a variant of the German christian democrat party.
posted by johnnyboy at 3:23 AM on April 15, 2004


Somebody - give Mr. Blair a nice weiner dog. It'd make him happy and could do some yapping in his stead.
posted by troutfishing at 7:18 AM on April 15, 2004


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