The notion that conservative political views can stunt one's acting career in ultra-liberal Hollywood is occasionally derided as exaggeration at best, or conspiracy-mongering at worst. So it behooves us to point out the actual victims of this sort of McCarthyite blacklisting.
The latest person to provoke the wrath of Hollywood's thought police - or at least to reveal the consequences of that wrath - is former "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Patricia Heaton. Heaton claims that she has been denied roles precisely - and explicitly - because she is "lumped together with conservatives," according to PopEater.com.
Known around left-leaning Hollywood for her conservative stances on weighty issues like abortion and stem cells, 'Everybody Loves Raymond' star Patricia Heaton is happy to explain how important her Christian faith is to her and how it shapes her views and career choices.
"My feeling is all these things come from God and as long as I know I'm staying in line with Him, I don't have to worry if there is backlash," she told me during a visit to AOL's New York offices. "God will open any doors he wants to open and if he closes doors that's fine to."
Telling me that she has many gay friends and doesn't oppose gay marriage, Patricia gets frustrated being automatically lumped together with other conservatives, a characterization she says has cost her possible work.
"We know for a fact there are some people who have said they wouldn't want to work with us because of our politics," she said, with her husband David Hunt adding, "We get lumped in with lunatics."
Even someone who apparently considers opponents of gay marriage "lunatics" is too far right for Hollywood. For an industry that once decried supposed ideological persecution in the Red Scare, the entertainment industry is sure willing to engage in its fair share.
Of course these sorts of tactics not only reflect Hollywood's ideological disparity, they reinforce it by discouraging conservatives from entering the business, and discouraging those already in the business from "coming out."
Other Hollywood conservatives have advised their ideological kin against revealing their political views publicly, simple because doing so could cause their career to take a hit. Actor Clint Howard, who recently starred in a series of videos for the conservative Heritage Foundation, urged caution in an interview with Politico's Patrick Gavin:
Still, he said, it would be wise for young Hollywood conservatives to exercise caution when speaking their minds.
"I'd tell young people trying to break into and succeed in the business: Be careful about this stuff,” he said.