Today I read an interesting commentary on the negative reaction people have against Oprah Winfrey endorsing Barack Obama. People seem to think she shouldn’t be all that partisan. I think that’s an interesting–and ignorant–point of view that undermines democracy.

These days in Alberta, teachers are not allowed to run for school board, even in districts where they don’t teach. Absurdly, the Supreme Court of Canada supports that decision because a democracy should ensure participation for all, but not necessarily all kinds of participation [like running for public office] for all. In Alberta, then, there are two classes of citizens.

Oprah Winfrey, despite her fame, should not be equally disenfranchised. We all know…actually we don’t really have a clue of the extent…that rich and often famous conservatives [unlike Oprah] support right wing politicians. We don’t express shock at that. No double standards should be allowed.

Then today, as I was preparing my other piece on Vancouver’s private thug corps, the Downtown Ambassadors, I found this poll on the 24 Hours website.

Luckily I was the first to answer the poll. Maybe I’ll set the sane trend. But, who do we think we are that we think it’s fine to stop celebrities from addressing political causes? Should they not be political reporters? Based on the often atrocious reporting in not just the free “newspapers” in town, many celebrities could do no worse than what the “professionals” are pumping out.

And the logical extension of this is that celebrities shouldn’t make political movies. George Clooney will be stuck in Oceans 14+ forever and Leonardo DiCaprio cannot discuss environmental policy ever again.

In the end, when schlock media like 24 Hours even entertains the notion that celebrities are not legitimate political reporters, their goal is to devalue whatever they may be able to contribute. Naomi Campbell may be awful at political reporting, as may other celebrities. But to negate their contribute based on their celebrity status is just foolish. It also serves the purpose of devaluing their critique if they happen to hit a nerve that the corporate media is not interested in being hit.

And when you take a google at what she’s up to, you can see why they’re after her, that Bush hating supermodel: “Campbell meets Chavez” in the Guardian. And now she’s off to meet Castro, which I suppose is what all the buzz is about.

In the end, when we pre-emptively limit people’s participation in political affairs of any sort, we do a disservice to the notion of democracy. Let her try. If she can make a difference, great. If she fails, she will still have succeeded at trying to participate in a democracy. And if she fails, she’ll do no worse than many who are already “professional” political reporters.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Upright, left-leaning.
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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