"The President" Urges You to Speak Out Against Drilling in the Arctic Refuge
January 16, 2002 9:24 AM   Subscribe

"The President" Urges You to Speak Out Against Drilling in the Arctic Refuge Martin Sheen takes advantage of his bully pulpit. "I'm not a president, but I play one on TV."
posted by nickmark (29 comments total)
Is he against drilling in the real ANWR or the TV one?
posted by O Boingo at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2002

Even I'm against drilling in the TV one.
posted by UncleFes at 9:39 AM on January 16, 2002

(mounts high horse)

This is just foul. As if politics weren't already enough of a farce. Martin Sheen should know better. Exactly why he should know better, I don't know. But he should.

posted by Ty Webb at 9:45 AM on January 16, 2002

It's not a "bully pulpit"; Martin Sheen has been known for his activism for years. I see no problem with using one's popularity and fame for a cause, and he is the star of one the most popular dramas in recent history.
posted by ashbury at 9:51 AM on January 16, 2002

Furthermore, I respect him and the ideals he keeps.
posted by ashbury at 9:53 AM on January 16, 2002

I am not surprised that he is using his television persona for advocacy purposes. This two-year old article talks a bit about the work he has done pre-West Wing. That article includes the following quote:
"But I'm an actor, I'm not the president. And I hope that against reality . . . we would have a pacifist in the White House for the first time even, I guess, in our republic," he said.
which is consistent with the tone within nickmark's posted article.

(I just saw ashbury's post in preview, but perhaps my comment will still be useful.)
posted by Avogadro at 9:54 AM on January 16, 2002

Hey, wasn't the "The President" in "The Dead Zone" too?
The Dead Zone

In that one, he went whacko and had to be shot by a brave citizen.

Who will step forward today?
posted by dand at 9:59 AM on January 16, 2002

I respect Martin Sheen's years of activism, I oppose drilling in the ANWR, and I even enjoy "The West Wing" despite it's "soft-lit liberal wet dream" quality. The fact that he references his role as the President in an attempt to add weight to his stance just doesn't sit right with me.

I remember similar feelings of discomfort when I saw Senator Fred Thompson (and curmudgeonly character actor) doing a Dole PAC commercial back in '96. Thompson was and is an actual legislator, tru, but I was still uncomfortable with the apparent attempt at transference.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:06 AM on January 16, 2002

Does anyone else ever think it's odd that we're always supposed to preserve things "for the next generation"?

What? We're supposed to preserve it so our kids can drill it?

There are many great reasons not to destroy shit. I don't think that's one of them.
posted by etc. at 10:11 AM on January 16, 2002

A couple of fun Martin Sheen limericks.
posted by stormy at 10:36 AM on January 16, 2002

In this day and age, preservation is seen as a bad word in many circles, or scoffed at by those who don't understand the need for it, or considered as "tree-hugging" (an activity I endorse, by the way). If one person, Martin Sheen in this case, can make people listen because they may place importance in his TV persona, then I support him. Sometimes such see-thru flogging to the masses is justified.

What? We're supposed to preserve it so our kids can drill it?

Once again, any reason to preserve is a good reason. I agree that it's a silly way to point out a problem, but there is a point to be made for taking care of our children. In this case, it's the parents who are being pin-pointed, as opposed to the star-stricken.
posted by ashbury at 10:46 AM on January 16, 2002

Martin Sheen is the only president my family has had for over a year now. I'll listen to him. Hey, don't knock it. It's better than having Moses or Dubya for a president.
posted by nofundy at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2002

I sure wish he were president. Better than the genius we have in there now!
posted by aacheson at 11:02 AM on January 16, 2002

an activity I endorse

Why hug a tree? The tree doesn't care, and you look stupid. Nobody wins :)

Better than the genius we have in there now

I don't know that shitcanning a dimbulb aristocrat for theatre people is an upgrade :D

posted by UncleFes at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2002

Sheen's words aren't so different from Thomas Jefferson's when it comes to the possibility of losing our resources for the use and enjoyment of future generations:

"--I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, "that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living": that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by an individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society"
posted by bragadocchio at 11:11 AM on January 16, 2002

That is a rather, um, creative interpretation of that quote :) Jefferson was commenting on the natural right of man to lay claim to land, a challenge to feudalism and aristocracy.
posted by UncleFes at 11:53 AM on January 16, 2002

would this be any different if the guy behind the Bozo Make-up were to endorse a conservationist view?

Is it strange to judge a celebrity's standing based on the type of character they portray?

This is just one person using their noteriety to advance a cause they have no real control over. It's an attempt to sway the opinion of a particular public.

Not unlike when the real president making public speeches in order to influence the public so that congress will think the public wants him to have fast-track trade legislation powers.
posted by Jeffy at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2002

I don't know that shitcanning a dimbulb aristocrat for theatre people is an upgrade :D

Hey, I don't know, man. At least we theater people are up front and unapologetic about our hard drinking and profligate drug use. :)
posted by Skot at 12:02 PM on January 16, 2002

He's not a president, but I would still vote for him.

Yes, I can hear rightwingers snickering, but hey... you worship Reagan, so bite me.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:06 PM on January 16, 2002

I don't have a joke here, I just like saying "usufruct"!
posted by nicwolff at 12:20 PM on January 16, 2002

"Does anyone else ever think it's odd that we're always supposed to preserve things "for the next generation"?

What? We're supposed to preserve it so our kids can drill it?"

I certainly hope that's a wonderfull troll you've got there. For your sake.

I believe that the preservation for the next generation refers to the next generation's ability to enjoy a beautiful, well-preserved area.

I don't think it was preserved so that the next generation could drill it.

posted by websavvy at 12:26 PM on January 16, 2002


u·su·fruct (yz-frkt, -s-)
The right to use and enjoy the profits and advantages of something belonging to another as long as the property is not damaged or altered in any way.

Jefferson's words question absolute ownership of land, and call for stewardship of property, so when Sheen says that "one of our major responsibilities is to protect America's environmental values for future generations", it doesn't call for a lot of creativity on my part to see a connection.
posted by bragadocchio at 1:13 PM on January 16, 2002

But I'm not sure that the word usufruct should make its way into common usage in the english language anytime soon :-)
posted by bragadocchio at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2002

Oh yeah, well I call usufruct on that! :D

My reading of it is that Jefferson is specfically NOT questioning the right to ownership, or of the ability of the owner to pass the land down to his or her scions, but the natural right to ownership, as dictated by, say, God for example, or the King. That ownership is based in law, not right.

But upon second (and further) reading, it could be interpreted somewhat as you describe. However, as much as I admire Jefferson, that passage is a direct attack on the concept of private property, and would invalidate the use of land for such prosaic things as, say, farming, something the Jefferson did quite a bit of (Jefferson had something of a history of difference in what he lived and what he advocated).

In any event, it's the usufruct idea of landownership is not very practical, as it would prohibit nearly any use at all, and certainly any commercial use.
posted by UncleFes at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2002

I believe that the preservation for the next generation refers to the next generation's ability to enjoy a beautiful, well-preserved area.

Yes, that is what they mean, obviously.

Before going on, I want to emphasize that I am strongly against drilling. Keep that in mind.

[grazes over the fact that a ridiculously small number of people have enjoyed or are enjoying this particular area, whereas virtually every U.S. resident enjoys the benefits of petroleum on a daily basis]

The problem of "preserving it for future generations" is that this presupposes that our children and grandchildren and so on are:

(1) More environmentally conscious than we are as a collective. There are forces in motion to drill now. What reason do we have to belive that there won't always be forces in motion to drill? If at any point in the future, the forces to drill outnumber the forces against, it will be drilled. The fact that there is an immense amount of wealth buried in the tundra is not going to change, and there will always be those who wish to exploit it. We might as well be the ones who profit. Let our kids fend for themselves.

(2) Less interested in money. If we drill now, it will create more wealth, just as if we had found a bag of money. We can enjoy this wealth, and it will appreciate so that our kids can enjoy even more wealth. Only if our descendants are not interested in wealth will preserving the arctic be advantageous for them.

All I'm saying is, posterity is a bullshit argument for wildlife preservation. Many people believe it, but that does not make it true.

I have a very difficult time justifying my opposition to drilling because I am aware that as long as we are dependent on petroleum there will always be incentive to drill. And we will never be totally free from petroleum (until it's gone). It will always have practical uses, even if alternative energy sources become widespread. Ultimately, the only decent reason I can justify to myself is that by not drilling, we preserve the scarcity of oil; we preserve its high price; we preserve the pressure to develop economically better energy sources, which hopefully will be less polluting than fossil fuels.
posted by etc. at 2:07 PM on January 16, 2002

I'll only follow Martin Sheen if he asks me to drink for hours in my underwear, punch out a mirror, and have a heart attack.
God, that movie was awesome.
posted by rocketman at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2002

UncleFes... I agree with you on the statement about Jefferson's words and actions being at odds with one another upon occasion. Jefferson did attack some methods of passing on property from one generation to another when he was governor of Virginia. The concepts of entail and primogeniture were two methods that he worked to abolish. The roots of those types of land ownership and transfer did come from England, and in many events left land barren and unused because there were no heirs.

Jefferson was also active in finding ways to prevent soil erosion; a letter of his describes one of the first recorded accounts of contour farming, with Jefferson using a type of plow that he invented. He also worked to find ways to avoid soil exhaustion, experimenting with the rotation of crops, and he shared those methods with others.

You're right that Jefferson wasn't against private ownership of property. But he was for responsible ownership, with the thought in mind that a proper stewardship of the land would enable others to use it after he died. Stewardship is different in many ways from the absolute prohibition that many environmentalists advocate these days.
posted by bragadocchio at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2002


The we is the we who continue to be able to drive our cars to go to our jobs and do productive things (excepting mefi of course). Windfall oil-company profits are only a small fraction of the total profits which accrue to a society engaged in economic development. The curious thing about ANWR is that I don't think those against the drilling aren't really pro-ANWR, they're just anti-drilling. I'm open to the idea of preserving the reseve. But I have to question the motives, or reasoning of those who shrilly sound alarms when it can be shown that there are constructive ways of extracting a valuable natural resource which preserves 99 percent of land in pristine condition, so that the 100 people a year who actually go to ANWR can continue to enjoy it.
posted by prodigal at 3:38 PM on January 16, 2002

I could care less about the people who go there with cameras around their necks...the animal life that will be affected by this change is, to my mind, a better reason for being concerned.
though it's not like we need a reason to stop defecating all over the earth. Right?
posted by Nyx at 9:58 PM on January 16, 2002

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