Blog: Defending Sean Penn

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Burt Ross

Sean Penn needs me to defend him like a hole in the head, but, of course, that won’t stop me. He is a fellow Malibuite, or whatever we call ourselves, and when one of us is unjustly accused, why not come to our neighbor’s aid.

As all of us know because we who live in Malibu were all at the Oscars, other than yours truly who watched it on television, Sean had the great honor of announcing the winner in the best picture category. This announcement is what everybody in the world was eagerly anticipating except for those of us who had already fallen fast asleep.

Sean opened the envelope and before announcing “Birdman” as the winner, he made what we who have a sense of humor call a “joke.” Referring to the director, and also his friend, Alejandro Inarritu, Sean said something to the effect, “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?” Alejandro found the joke “hilarious,” but that didn’t stop the self-righteous and humorless folk from going apoplectic.

The Huffington Post Latinovoices led with a headline declaring, “Sean Penn’s Green Card Comment May Have Ruined the Entire Oscars.” Get serious. Four hours of boredom may have ruined the Oscars, but not Sean Penn’s quip.

People even went so far as to call Sean a “racist.” This is the same Sean Penn who continues to lead the fight to rebuild Haiti after the last earthquake. Have people completely lost their minds?

It does not require a genius to figure out what Sean said was the opposite of racism. By saying what he did, he was announcing to the world that denying good people access to our country is racism. In other words, he engaged in sarcasm defined as “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.”

In a world where racism rears its ugly head all too often, let’s not be so hypersensitive that we end up attacking those who actually help the very victims of racism.