Friday, December 02, 2005

We Must Not Negotiate With... Rock Stars?

First there was Bono, with the foreign aid and debt reduction thing.

While it’s somewhat annoying to see your Prime Minister being badgered by a rather scruffy-looking multimillionaire rock star, by now we are used to Bono, and at least we got a good concert out of it.

Perhaps encouraged by the benign tolerance accorded his colleague, now Paul McCartney is using a somewhat less appealing tone, if news reports are accurate, to promote his cause of banning the seal hunt.

Seal hunt? Are they still doing that?
Apparently so.

Totally leaving aside the merits of the cause, partly because I am not sure about them and am disinclined to do the research, and partly because in prinicple the merits are beside the point, I must object to the concept that famous people can use a threatening tone with world leaders in order to further an agenda no matter how arguably worthwhile.

Celebrities, rightly or wrongly, have the attention of millions or even billions of people and can’t be blamed for trying to communicate their message. They have enormous power to fund-raise, use the media to educate, change hearts and minds. But telling a Prime Minister to stop an ongoing practice or else “we will do all we can to focus attention on this unjustified, outdated and truly horrific practice, including, potentially, visiting the seals and the ice," is in my opinion an arrogant attempt at misuse of influence.

Frankly, I’d be happier if Sir Paul did ignite the media storm which would ideally lead to an informed debate, and if Canadians did decide that the hunt was a bad idea they could press their politicians to stop it.

Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

And furthermore, could they not find a better country to pick on? Someplace where human rights are flagrantly violated, where women are treated worse than our seals, or at the very least where gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry?

I suspect that one reason why the rock stars are ganging up on Canada is because they can, and while we are far from perfect we are probably one of the most progressive countries out there.

After all, we do tolerate the Bonos and McCartneys and that in itself says much.