Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing.

I just saw this film the other day on cable. I’m not particularly a fan of country music, but I was very interested in all the crap these ladies had to put up with from their nutjob fan base. Not to say that everyone who likes country music is a nutjob. That is not my point at all. There were quite a number of fans who stuck with these ladies throughout. It's the people who went after them and any radio station that played their music because Natalie Maines said that she was “ashamed that George Bush was from Texas”, that I am complaining about. Those people are just flat out nuts.

I can see that someone might shy away from supporting an actor or musician because they don’t agree with said actor’s/musician’s politics. Stop going to see their movies or buying their CD’s. Many people stopped supporting Tom Cruise when he went bonkers and attacked Brooke Shields over something that he had absolutely no first hand knowledge about (i.e., post-natal depression). That’s fine. But to go out of your way to boycott radio stations that played their music, well, that’s getting into censorship. A free society is supposed to mean that you can disagree with what someone says, but they are still allowed to say it. And then, death threats? For saying something that you didn’t like? In what rational universe is that acceptable behavior? And what kills me is that the Dixie Chicks have been vindicated! They were right all along! I would be ashamed of a president who had a 28% approval rating as well, if he were from my state or not.

That’s the one thing I find most unnerving about today’s society. Free speech is no longer that free. Listeners feel that they have some God-given right, if they hear something that they don’t like, to shut the speaker up! And to do so any way they can, including threats of violence. In the case of the government, they can just arrest said protester, as in the case of the man in Denver who went up to Dick Cheney and said something that Cheney didn’t like. 10 minutes later, the guy was under arrest by the Secret Service, even though he had his young son in tow and had done absolutely nothing except tell Cheney that his policies were reprehensible. That isn't freedom, that's a police state.

These kind of people bitch and moan about how us liberals “hate America”, “love the terrorists” and generally oppose “freedom”. But they obviously only mean their kind of freedom. Just as long as every single thing that you say, sing, paint, write or make a movie about agrees with the listener, then freedom is great. Once that very, very narrow line has been crossed, well then, all bets are off. Somehow this concept of freedom of speech is no longer such a good idea.

I think I might go on Amazon and buy a Dixie Chicks CD or two.

Dixie Chicks photo from here.

UPDATE: When I wrote the original post on this topic, I was a bit remiss in several aspects. I would like to correct that now.

When I wrote that, I was rather upset about the attitudes of people like the detractors of the Dixie Chicks. In my annoyance, I didn’t mention the fact about how impressive I found these ladies. I am now a fan of theirs, for no other reason that who they are. These ladies are pretty amazing, aside from being kick-butt musicians. They held their families together through those very difficult times, which was no small feat. They kept their dignity throughout. Well, there was that whole “FUTK” episode, but that was absolutely warranted, in my mind. And, they kept their love for what they were doing. And, they never backed down. Never. From the movie, it certainly looked like it took a toll on them, to be sure. But it is a testament to who they are that they held it together and triumphed.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that this whole thing about boycotting the radio stations that played the Chicks music was more than just censorship. It was a punitive action meant to punish the Dixie Chicks. This was how far it went. It was not a matter of, like I mentioned initially, withdrawing your support (loyalty and monetarily) from someone you find doesn’t share your values. It was intended to hurt them financially for “straying from the fold”, for being a "traitor". It was mean-spirited, vindictive and ruthless. That is where the detractors of the Dixie Chicks were coming from.

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