June 22, 2010, - 3:29 pm
Remember Val Kilmer from “Top Gun,” “The Doors,” and, now, Fat Men Hate America?
For the record, I’m against the government withholding permits or otherwise punishing someone for exercising his/her First Amendment speech rights, even if what the person said is reprehensible, as in Kilmer’s case. But, since he dissed Vietnam Vets who could beat his fat ass all the way to China, I enjoy watching him squirm (even though I oppose it–government should never tell you what to say or how to say it).
The Iceman Cometh: Val Kilmer Pays a Tiny Price for Dissing Vietnam Vets
I couldn’t care less what he has to say about New Mexico or its residents (though it’s funny to read his chutzpahdik utterances about them). It’s what he says about the brave American men–thousands of whom died in Vietnam in contrast to him living in comfort in a candy-assed profession–that’s the outrage. That’s what’s truly offensive. The exact opposite of “Real Genius” (the title of a bad ’80s movie in which he starred).
When actor Val Kilmer recently applied for permits to turn his 6,000-acre ranch outside Santa Fe into an upscale bed-and-breakfast, several of his neighbors protested. . . .
They were incensed about comments attributed to Mr. Kilmer in magazine articles dating to 2003 and 2005. And they didn’t want him to get his way on the ranch unless he apologized. . . .
Mr. Kilmer, who starred in “Tombstone,” “The Doors,” “Batman Forever” and, more recently, “MacGruber,” was quoted—misquoted, he says—describing his rugged corner of New Mexico as “the homicide capital of the Southwest.”
He went on to avow that “80% of the people in my county are drunk,” requiring him to carry a gun for protection. That was in a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone.
In Esquire two years later, Mr. Kilmer was quoted—again, misquoted, he says—opining that he understands Vietnam better than its veterans, because most of them were “borderline criminal or poor … wretched kids” who landed in the military because they “got beat up by their dads” or “couldn’t finagle a scholarship.”
Sorry, but I don’t believe he was misquoted. That’s what celebs always say . . . when they start to endure the backlash for saying what they really think.
At a hearing last month on Mr. Kilmer’s application, a half-dozen locals and veterans demanded the star apologize before being allowed to welcome paying guests onto his Pecos River Ranch. The county attorney, Jesus Lopez, backed them up. Mr. Kilmer’s quotes were “incendiary” and, dated as they may be, created a “clear and present danger threatening public safety,” he said.
Taken aback by the outrage, the San Miguel County Commission opted to postpone debate on the permits. The next day, Alex Tafoya, the planning and zoning director, wrote Mr. Kilmer’s ranch manager to explain that “your application will remain tabled until Mr. Kilmer appears personally before the Board of County Commissioners” to answer questions about his alleged remarks.
See, that’s where they’re not only stretching things. They’re violating the law. You can’t refuse someone’s zoning request on the grounds that their quotes are incendiary and cause a public safety threat. Since when have they refused to zone a mosque for that reason (which, in that case, would be more valid)? I’m not holding my breath. Nor can they demand that he “apologize” or “answer questions” about remarks in magazine interviews.
But, still, I enjoy that he’s finally getting a tad of a hard time that Jane Fonda and the many other celebs who dissed our Vietnam Vets did not.
But no worries. The ACLU has predictably stepped in and Kilmer will suffer no more.
The commission has called a June 23 hearing. Officials say they expect Mr. Kilmer to be there.
Mr. Kilmer, who flirted last year with a run for governor, has lived in New Mexico for decades. Last year, he put his ranch up for sale for $33 million, but it failed to sell.
Pecos River Ranch websites dated 2005 and 2008 offer descriptions of the lodging, daily rates and advice for tourists (bring sunscreen and bug repellent; “kindly refrain” from taking Mr. Kilmer’s photo should you spot the star). That suggests Mr. Kilmer has opened his lodge to paying guests in the past. But county officials say the ranch has never had the permits for it.
Mr. Salazar, the commission chair, acknowledges that, apology or not, the county is bound by law to consider the permit application on its merits. Still, he said, “you never know what might happen.”
Yeah, you never know. Wish I could be there to see the non-aerobic version of Jane Fonda get some grief.
Some protesters vow to keep up the pressure, even if Mr. Kilmer does show up this week, ten-gallon hat in hand.
“An apology isn’t good enough. He’s insulted and hurt too many people,” said Abran Tapia, a veteran and local resident. “People here want him out of New Mexico.”
Better yet–how about out of America? Maybe he can make like his alter ego, Jim Morrison, and go away.
One thing is for certain: Val Kilmer’s definitely written the epitaph on the “Tombstone” of his New Mexico political career.
Tags: Abran Tapia, ACLU, bed and breakfast, First Amendment, Jesus Lopez, New Mexico, Pecos River Ranch, permits, ranch, San Miguel County Commission, Santa Fe, Santana High School, Val Kilmer, Val Kilmer disses Vietnam Vets, Vietnam, Vietnam Veterans, Vietnam Vets, zoning