U.S. Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) issued this statement in response to Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar acceptance speech:

“Congressman Fred Keller Slams Joaquin Phoenix’s Anti-Dairy Oscar Acceptance Speech.”

“Joaquin Phoenix winning Best Actor for playing the Joker fits him to a T because his comments would have been laughable were they not so offensive. Phoenix’s rambling remarks about America’s dairy industry prove how out-of-touch he is with the hardworking Americans who grow our food and create healthy communities. Phoenix’s Hollywood-elite world view has clearly blinded him to the sacrifice and struggles of America’s dairy farmers. When I travel Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District and meet with farmers, I am always impressed with their work-ethic, thoughtfulness, and desire to help others despite facing generational industrial hardships and a libelous onslaught from anti-dairy activists. The callousness he showed in his speech last night proves he needs to get out of his Hollywood bubble to see how real Americans make a living. His remarks were detestable not just to me, but to the many hardworking family farmers across Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District with whom I speak with on a regular basis.”

Here’s my response to Congressman Keller:

Dear Congressman Keller,

I found your statement on Joaquin Phoenix’s speech disturbing, misguided, inaccurate, and divisive. You stated Joaquin’s comments were “offensive.” Taking a stand against cruelty and injustice isn’t offensive; it’s courageous and compassionate. You conflated “hardworking Americans” and dairy industry brutality. Joaquin never said farmers aren’t hardworking, but that’s a moot point because nobody deserves praise for working hard at exploitation. Abusing animals is inhumane, whether it happens at a family farm or factory farm. Also, 99% of dairy, meat, and eggs in the U.S. come from factory farms, not family farms, so it’s disingenuous to imply otherwise. You stated that dairy farmers are creating “healthy communities.” Dairy is unhealthy. It’s the reason why the healthier, kinder, and more sustainable plant-based milk industry is booming.

Rather than solely defending dairy farmers–a dying industry, it would help if you spoke for everyone in your district. Joaquin’s views, which he has lived for 40 years, represent the values of many of your constituents, too. And Joaquin doesn’t live in a Hollywood bubble. On the contrary, he’s on the front lines with other brave advocates fighting for social justice causes more significant than his self-interest. As a member of the U.S. Congress, instead of pandering and grandstanding, you should applaud him for using his fame for that purpose.

Joaquin’s remarks weren’t “detestable”–claiming dominion over animals for their milk is detestable. Gaslighting your constituents doesn’t change that reality. The dairy industry is, by definition, horrifying and indefensible. Sadly, Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t joking.

Would you like to share your thoughts with Congressman Keller? You can reach his Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-3731.