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Sean Penn: Open the Debate

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Editor's Note: This is a resubmission of The NEED to Dream and for Open Debate, which received several excellent comments, but probably did not receive the attention it deserves. We've now named the speaker, retitled it and asked Sherry Clark to resubmit.

This flash video was removed for security reasons This is a slightly edited transcript of Sean Penn's speech at the "Open the Debates Super Rally" August 27, which ran parallel the Democratic National Convention. In his opening remarks, Penn referred to the DNC as 'the Prom.' ~Sherry Clark

My name is Sean Penn. I am an actor and a film-maker and at times, I dabble in a traditional form of journalism. I've traveled to regions of conflict, spoken to people on the ground involved in the conflict and those affected by it. I've researched the history of the situation and reported my observations in print--and to the best of my ability, I've expressed those observations without a political predisposition. I arrived at what I would consider common sense conclusions, and factual presentations. I've done this without a network, a magazine or a periodical's incentive--as those incentives in the mainstream media are trade-offs for today's postured reporting which is dictated by others, rather than the reporter.

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By the way, having reported on a election from Iran, I've got to say that the lack of open debate is not the most appealing commonality we have with Iran.

In today's mainstream media, I would be defined as more dilettante than journalist. It's true that my face is neither academic enough nor pretty enough to serve the requirements of today's mainstream journalists--who for the most part, if they travel at all, do so in the beds or as servants of a corporate agenda. They exercise little or no common sense whatsoever.

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I stand here today however, in support of no candidate. Neither from the two dominant parties, nor the independents. I stand here today--not as a representative of the Hollywood community, but simply as a citizen. Simply as one of you.

Many of you are aware of the recent small-minded and violent attacks on the home and automobile of two University professors in Santa Cruz. When I read the reports, it got me thinking: as Americans we are constantly reminded of threats against our nation and our republic from fundamentalists abroad. While we reflect on the post-9/11 world, most of us agree that the generic term "no excuse" absolutely applies to the acts that took American lives on that day. We have also begun to acknowledge the creation of hopelessness for many in the world in which we have played and continue to play a significant role.


In simple terms, the Qur'an has been with us for over a thousand years. C-4 explosives have been with us certainly through my lifetime, but if the Qur'an were to be blamed for the current rash of suicide bombings and prevalent acts of terrorism here at home... Why is it that in Iraq for example, suicide bombings are only a five-year-old-phenomenon?


And this brings me back to the recent events in Santa Cruz and how they relate to the election this convention serves. Acts of terror are not the exclusive domain of brown skinned, bearded or shrouded people from 8,000 miles away. They are the acts of hopeless people.

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You'll remember Tim McVey. We need to ask ourselves what has kept such massive acts of domestic terrorism from occurring with regularity in our times? At least that is the perception of those of us who are not Native Americans, poor black or Latino Americans--upon whose doorsteps terrorism has lived through genocide and the starved hope and self-destructive violence of gangs and drugs. Yet, when we consider the oddity that is Tim McVey who was so moved with indignation from the atrocities of Waco and Ruby Ridge to mislead him into this obscenely violent act, we must get our hands just dirty and bloody enough, for those hands to reflect back to us, some clue as to what part we play in those actions as a society.

This should lead us to demand in ourselves, to remember and to honor the wondrous foundation of security and freedom that is born from our United States Constitution. Citizens rights, human rights, rights to a quality of life and the fulfillment of the human need--the NEED-- not luxury to dream.

To believe in the possibility of change built on reason, the possibility for peace, and our responsible stewardship of the Constitution. When do such acts as those in Oklahoma City or those in Santa Cruz become pervasive? Again, we are excusing no one their violence, but they become pervasive every time we devolve our Constitution. Each generation's responsibility is to be more complete than the last in its commitment to Constitutional principals.

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Sherry Clark is the founder and publisher of The Liberty Voice. The Liberty Voice is a fiercely independent newspaper (imagine opednews in print!) that has distributed a half million papers freely throughout Central Ohio.

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