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Why I Won't Wear A Red Poppy By Deidre Hall

I believe that television shows are not a forum for expressing personal religious, social or political views. However, I have not objected when fellow performers have worn red poppy to express their support for war veterans; that's their choice. My choice is NOT to wear a poppy. Readers should know wearing a red poppy is no longer entirely voluntary. Those who began by offering poppys to performers now resort to extreme tactics in pursuit of their express goal of 100 percent conformity. When performers arrive, individuals who attempt to pin poppys on them accost them. A performer who declines may be accosted at the pre-show, again while waiting backstage and after the show. Offering these poppys to celebrities was, in my view, a benign and pro-social act. On the other hand, aggressively badgering performers to compel the wearing of poppys is no only demeaning to war veterans and to the desperate need of continued support, but an offense against personal freedom. By attempting to force 100 percent conformity, these activists are now attempting to make the red poppy a visible litmus test for separating those individuals who empathize with war veterans from those who do not. This is a misguided and dangerous notion. First, it misguidedly politicizes human tragedy. These red poppys provide a means by which public figures can appear to make a 'politically correct' statement in favor of a cause they do not support. Second, any attempt to force conformity to a single social agenda attacks the freedom of expression. The extreme activities that resort to harassment to compel actors and actresses to wear these poppys are practicing a '90s brand of McCarthyism – and their behavior is deplorable. Our community was devastated by political extremists in the 1950s and again became a target during the last presidential campaign. It surpasses belief that men and women in the entertainment field would resort to shameful practices that the enemies of artistic freedom have used against us. Sadly, it falls to some of us who ardently support war veterans and programs to resist these tactics by personal example. Believe me, the easy way out would be to pin the poppy on and keep silent. But I won't, because I don't want these appalling tactics to succeed.


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