The Big Hurt: Clubbing baby seals: not okay

This week in social activism
By DAVID THORPE  |  April 8, 2008

Pop icon RICKY MARTIN paid a humanitarian visit to Cambodia recently in support of victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Although he’s remembered as the radiant Latin heartthrob behind “La Vida Loca,” Martin has shown an admirable commitment to philanthropy. As president and founder of the Ricky Martin Foundation, he seeks to put an end to the egregious international nightmare of human trafficking, which affects more than a million children per year. For Martin, the fight is personal; he himself is a victim of MENUDO, the notorious child-exploitation ring that’s claimed the innocence of dozens — maybe hundreds — of Puerto Rican youths.

Hatian-born ex-FUGEE WYCLEF JEAN has always kept a special place in his heart for his native country, and he’s worked tirelessly toward its improvement. In fact, Haitian president René Préval named Jean “roving ambassador” to the turbulent Caribbean nation last year, calling him “our best asset to promote the country’s image around the world.” The authority implicit in this appointment has gone to Wyclef’s head, however, and he now seems to think he can just waltz over there and start bossing people around. In a recent interview on Hatian radio, he ordered his countrymen to knock it off with all the rampant crime and epidemic kidnapping and whatnot. “You should not be raping women, kidnapping people and children,” the preening big shot proclaimed. “There can be no excuse for doing so. I reject these evil practices.” Does someone need to get his ego in check?

Not that we don’t rely on artists to advance controversial and unconventional ideas, to challenge our conceptions and broaden our horizons. TOM MEIGHAN, singer for dance-rock act KASABIAN, has staked out a bold position: “I don’t think it’s okay to smash a baby seal’s skull.” Shocked into moral crisis, I lay down my club.

Speaking of animal activism: RADIOHEAD it’s reported, gave an “intimate matinee performance” for the BBC on April 1. For those of you who skipped biology class, the matinee (or “sea cow”) is a gentle aquatic mammal whose numbers have greatly diminished because of poaching and human encroachment. The groundbreaking British group have been known to include references to the vulnerable beasts in their lyrics: “I jumped in the river and what did I see?/Black-eyed angels swam with me.” Although the “intimate matinee performance” went off without a hitch, one has to wonder just how intimate it was — legend has it that love-starved sailors would occasionally mistake the friendly, playful matinees for mermaids, and God only knows what happens when you add Radiohead’s testosterone-addled rocker masculinity to the mix.

Then there’s floppy junk urchin PETE DOHERTY, who pissed off the organizers of a dyslexia charity by cancelling an appearance at the last minute. If he’d been there, maybe this column would be free of ridiculous errors like the one in the previous paragraph. As if to make up for his gaffe, the Babyshambles/Libertines dude has been dipping his toes into one of America’s most trusted humanitarian organizations: SCIENTOLOGY. Enticed by a Dianetic girlfriend, Doherty has been exploring the faith, reading up on its tenets, and possibly preparing to save humanity from the dead souls of ancient aliens by electrocuting alien ghosts out of rich people, or back into rich people, or whatever-the-fuck. Keep fighting the good fight, Pete!

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