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Being a Celebrity Is Not a License to Be a Jackass

Actress and activist Susan Sarandon is just the latest in a conga line of celebrities who love to curry favor with the politically correct crowd.

At a panel discussion over the weekend at the elite Hampton Film Festival on New York’s Gold Coast, La Sarandon opined that she had once sent a copy of a book to the pope. “The last one. Not this Nazi one we have now,” she explained. 

She later repeated the slur at a cocktail party held afterwards.  

Crowds at both venues were unfazed by the remark and lavished praise on the Oscar-winning actress for her work and her recent show of solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protestors. That would the quick drop-by she arranged a couple weeks ago while she was on her way in a limo to catch a plane to Italy (presumably not to pay respects to the Vatican). She told reporters that she was “her to educate myself” because "greed is widespread all over the world.”

Perhaps almost as widespread as the annoying habit that celebrities have of saying stupid things. 

It can come from both sides of the spectrum. Earlier this month, songwriter Hank Wililams Jr. compared a golf outing between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner to having Adolf Hitler meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For that he was ousted from his gig on “Monday Night Football.”

Being well paid and pampered by Hollywood studios shouldn't be a license to be a jerk or needlessly offend people. 

The worst Hollywood offenders are those who throw around Nazi references, a la Sarandon and Williams. 

In 1990, Mike Godwin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation formulated a rule that now goes by "Godwin’s Law." A variation of it states: : “He who mentions Hitler or the Nazis first has lost the argument, because they are relying on emotion and not facts.” Using a Nazi or Hitler comparison unfairly robs the valid comparisons of any intellectual force.But celebrities can’t help themselves. 

Actress Megan Fox said Michael Bay, director of the “Transformers” movies, “wants of be like Hitler on his sets, and he is." 

Filmmaker Oliver Stone told the Sunday Times of London in 2010 that “Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein. German Industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support…Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people.” Ms. Fox was bounced from any future “Transformer” movies for her comment, but Stone is still making films – and distorting history in the process. 

I guess it’s too much to ask for the general public to boycott celebrities who act stupidly – references to Hitler or Nazis being among the more egregious acts – because there simply would be too many examples for anyone to keep track of. But that shouldn’t deter people in the creative arts from raising a stink about it in an attempt to create some kind of deterrent.

To their credit, the Anti-Defamation League has denounced La Sarandon for her slur. Entertainment lawyer Angie Meyer says “her outlandish words come as a huge liability to movie producers and film financiers. There will be push back – she’s stuck her foot too far down to fully recover, at least for the short term.”

But let’s face it. Memories are fleeting – especially in ADD-infused Hollywood. It won’t be long before another celebrity follows the Nazi Analogy Brick Road. Whether they are doing it to get attention or simply out of stupidity, it would be nice to ignore them. But we shouldn’t. The slur is too wounding and the (lack of) thought behind it too lazy to ever accept it as part of our discourse.

John Fund is Senior Editor, American Spectator and author of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy" (Encounter Books)

John Fund is the national affairs correspondent at National Review Online.