East Texas Ignoring War Words Of Hollywood

Freedom of speech is constitutionally protected.

However, the Constitution doesn't require anyone to care.

With an impending war against Iraq and the Oscars scheduled for this weekend, you can bet that performers will be making their feelings known on the national stage. Performers like the Dixie Chicks, Charlie Daniels, Martin Sheen, Ted Nugent, and Sheryl Crow have all made their feelings known on both sides of the issue.

However, Crystal Chachery of Tyler doesn't care.

"I think they need to keep their opinions to themselves, honestly."

Many celebrities use their fame as a podium to make social comments, and because of their name-recognition, the public notices. The Dixie Chicks made remarks about the President last week.

Free speech? Absolutely.

An exceptionally bad career move? Right again, judging from the way people are lining up to throw their Dixie chicks CDs away, run them over with tractors, and try and ban them from airplay.

"They do have the right," Tyler's Melody Ray says, "To exercise their free speech. But when you're reaching so many people you need to be more cautious about that."

The curious double-edged sword of celebrity means that although your words reach more people, that just mathematically increases the chance that you're going to upset somebody.

"You take chances when you say things like that," White Oak resident Justin Skaggs says. "Because you are in the limelight, you are in a position where you make an impact on people's minds about what they think."

The men and women of the entertainment industry make millions by making us believe they are other people. Maybe that's why there's such distrust towards them from East Texans.

Noted actor and photographer-puncher Sean Penn took a trip to Iraq in December, and proclaimed the county peaceful. Ask yourself this, do you really care what the guy who played Jeff Spicoli thinks? I know personally I won't make a major purchasing decision without consulting with Crispin Glover, Anne Heche, and the guy who played "Screech" on "Saved By The Bell."

"The difference is, they don't have any training in politics," Tyler's Terri Deike says. "They're just speaking as lay people and they don't have any training at all."

"Opinions shouldn't be weighed heavier because they're a celebrity," says Amanda Smith of Tyler, "Anymore so than for average people like myself."

Everybody, even Hollywood people, has a right to their own opinion whether you agree with them, disagree with them, or couldn't tell them from the contestant on "25,000 Pyramid."

Just remember, make up your own mind.

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.