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The Dixie Chicks and stuff

Okay, I like the Dixie Chicks. I don't love them, but I like them. I own all of their CDs and I'll continue to buy them as long as they make decent music. But this notion that they're somehow "victims" of anything other than their own intemperance is obnoxious.

Actually, this post isn't even really aboutthe Dixie Chicks. It's about something that's been on my mind for a while now, and the Dixie Chicks' Grammy win just reminded me of it, as did Charlize Theron's recent inane comparison of the U.S. and Cuba.

(For those of you who missed it, Theron was nattering on about political oppression in Cuba, and then seemed to make the point that the U.S. was no freer. When challenged by the interviewer to defend this claim, she muttered about how she "seemed to recall... some time ago some reporters being fired from their jobs for speaking up on television about how they felt about the war."

Ah well, who needs specifics when you're making a political point against the United States? The point is that some reporter could have been fired for editorializing, even if Theron can't remember it, and that's sufficient to equate the United States with a Caribbean dictatorship's half-century unbroken track record of political oppression and wholesale abrogation of human rights, right?)

Anyway, I digress. Theron is just another air-brained Hollywood idiot. So what? The point is that I'm sick of people like the Dixie Chicks and Charlize Theron's imaginary friend claiming that their "freedoms" have been violated because they learn that their words have consequences.

The First Amendment gives you the right to speak your mind, but it does not guarantee that you can say whatever the hell you want and be immune from criticism of consequence. Reducing the concept of "free speech" to "license without responsibility" is a thoroughly infantile interpretation. Not surprisingly, however, it's one that resonates with a lot of liberals in the entertainment industry.

I'm a libertarian with a pretty expansive view of free speech, and I typically believe in wide latitude for people to do and say as they damn well please. But if you're going to say something deliberately provocative, you can't seriously expect your words to have no consequence. I could storm into my boss's office right now or call my wife on the phone and say anything I damn well wanted, but I have to be prepared to accept the fallout from so doing. Perhaps I won't go to jail, but I could sure as hell negatively impact my life with a few ill-chosen words.

It's ludicrous that this "we're not allowed to criticize the government" meme is still alive. It was without merit even as far back in 2002, but is just complete and utter horse crap in 2007. Go into your nearest Barnes and Noble and take a quick gander at the "New in Non-Fiction" table and tell me what you see. Or pick up the editorial page of the "New York Times," for that matter, or read high-traffic blogs like Kos or Atrios. And none of these are new developments. They've all obtained practically since the beginning of the Bush administration.

This is hardly censorship, by any stretch of the imagination, and to say otherwise is both stupid and offensive. Comparisons to Cuba are completely beyond the pale, but also self-negating. The very fact that Charlize Theron was free to spew her puerile nonsense invalidates her entire stupid premise.

Yeah, the Dixie Chicks haven't been selling as many tickets as they'd like, and they don't get a lot of airplay on country radio, but that hardly makes America a gulag. And you know what else? This is a complete aside, and the subject of a whole other rant, but the fact is that they don't play anyone good on country radio these days. Geniuses like George Jones and Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson are not only still alive, but still doing terrific music, but unless you have a satellite radio (which should be the subject of yet a third rant) you won't hear any of them. Ditto the younger heroes of the alt-country circuit, like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and the like, whose music is insufficiently bland for commercial country. Join the club, Natalie. The company is stellar.

And Natalie, I'm not one of these "shut up and sing types" either. You may sing if you like, or not, it's up to you. I will buy your records if you do. You may also shut up or not -- it's your call. But please understand that you have no special immunity from criticism should you decide to hold forth from the stage on controversial issues.

And you know what? That's what really bothers the media and entertainment elite. They're nostalgic for the good old days, before the rise of the new media, in which they could savage Dan Quayle 24/7 and no one would ever hit back. Well sorry, but those days are gone. The other side has a voice too now, and if you don't want to be hit back, then don't throw the first punch. I understand that you're not exactly fond of these new realities, but don't call them "censorship." That just makes you look like a whiny, spoiled idiot.


True, the NYT best-seller list these days is chockful of non-Bush-lovin' books...maybe the shine finally wore off the guy, thankfully, after several years of too many people hoisting him onto a pedestal.
Check the NYT best-selling list from 2 and 3 years ago, though: Ann Coulter and other right-wingers were holding sway back then.

And yes, people have a right to free speech and others have the same right to react to that free speech, but the right wing reaction to the Dixie Chick comment 4 years ago was one of the cultural lowpoints of recent years. Sean Hannity smashing their CDs? Boycotts? Gimme a break.

> ...but the right wing reaction to the Dixie Chick comment 4 years ago was one of the cultural lowpoints of recent years.

Clearly you didn't watch Fox's reality series "The Swan."

True. May have overstated my case. I do watch Real World:Denver, though. 4-star television.

It's no better than slashin Milli Vanilli records back in the day. And not everyone who didliked what they said destroyed their cds, they did worse, people stopped listening and buying their records.
I'm an alt-rock fan. Such actions done would rocket even the cheesiest fans to success. We're just suckers like that.
And as far as books go, don't be surprised to see W's value go up. Not because he did anything great or Iraq got better, but it's the publishing business. They did the same thing with Reagan. "Realization" has very little to do with it

Not at all on topic really, but I love Lucinda Williams. The things you cite are why I love FUV.

Did anyone catch "The Hills" (MTV) last night? Did Lauren and Heidi make up or what?

Isn't she great? I just got her new CD but haven't yet had a chance to give it a thorough listen. Have you?

I haven't, but they've been playing Are You Alright? on FUV and I love it. Have I mentioned how much I love FUV?

It's a great station. I'd listen to it much more often if I didn't have XM.

I agree that free speech doesn’t mean freedom from repercussions, Charlize Theron is obviously not too bright – or she is just talking out of her ass. I don’t feel sorry for her though, she has an opportunity, an audience that most of us never will. If she wants to make a statement she ought to take the time to know her facts first, and in a case like this she ought to have just backpedaled immediately and admitted the comparison was full of hyperbole.

As far as the Dixie Chicks go – I don’t understand the appeal of their music at all. I agree that like Charlize if they’re going to make controversial statements they ought to be prepared for consequences. However it appears to me that the reaction was over the top. Of course you had idiots like Hannity using them as a mechanism to drive his own ratings, but what seemed more insidious to me was the way they were dropped immediately by so many stations despite the fact that people still wanted to hear them. Someone made a business decision apparently not based on their marketability but on their statement.

It’s a difficult fix, Clear Channel has the right to make business decisions as they see fit, that’s how the market works. You could argue that since they use the public airwaves they have an obligation to play what people want – but you’d lose that argument because as Barry mentions they don’t play anything worthwhile on the radio. That also opens that whole “Fairness Doctrine” issue.

The only real answer I see is to fix the marketplace. If conglomerates like Clear Channel are allowed to own multiple stations in one city then they can effectively censor an act like the Dixie Chicks. If however we have several competing stations someone will put them on the air if consumers want it – that’s the free market at work.

That’s the reason radio sucks these days – no competition. If one company owns all the stations or most of them, or if it’s a few super companies all in bed together then the radio becomes bland and unlistenable. That’s why satellite radio is so fresh because they are answering that consumer demand for variety. I’ve got around 8000 songs on my Ipod and I must hear less than 1% of them on the radio ever. Why is that? There’s so much good music out there yet we have to hear the same dozen songs that the record companies are trying to sell at the moment. I pray for the downfall of radio – if the whole system collapses maybe we’ll get some fresh independent voices back into the market.

Re: the radio reaction to the Dixie Chicks. I just saw Shut Up And Sing and according to the radio people they interviewed, they were getting calls from sponsors threatening to pull advertisements and listeners threatening to boycott. So I don't think it was necessarily a bad business decision based on politics. I think it was a bad business decision (although I suppose that it was such a bad business decision since I don't think the stations suffered financially) based on cowardice. Basically, the complaining voices were louder and more strident than the supportive voices.

FWIW, I prefer to listen to and "judge" music on a musical basis. I find it distracting when an artist places verbiage and personal perspective in front of the musical gift. Music is a flow of inspiration. Who knows where it comes from.

I'm also not one of the "shut up and sing" types but I do make a distinction between the wordiness and intentional persuasion coming from the stage, and the chords and melodies.

Why is saying that you're ashamed Bush is from your home state a 'deliberately provocative' statement? As a Texan myself, I've been ashamed of Bush for years. Moreover, as a Texan who has been studying in Britain for several years, should I have felt compelled to keep my own 'provactive' views quiet for the past several years? As for the analogy with speaking your mind to your boss/wife and it having consequences, the important difference is that Natalie Maines WASN'T speaking to the American people, but was making an offhand remark to British people to show that not all Texans think like Bush. That's like your proverbial boss hearing SECOND HAND that you've badmouthed a THIRD PARTY, and then raking you over the coals for it. It's also ridiculous to assert that there are no constraints on criticizing the government in 2007. The defensive posturing by McCain and Obama over their use of the word 'wasted' when describing American war deaths is proof enough that there is a line that cannot be crossed--apparently the idea that these American lives WERE wasted in a pointless war that has only brought misery to so many is one criticism too far.

Charlize left her Cuban "friends" completely out of the conversation. She bailed on their cause in an effort to promote, --- I have no idea. To equate "restrictions" on freedom in the U.S. to Cuba would be funny, if she hadn't had 2 guests with her who didn't have the luxury of growing up in WHITE South Africa. She insulted her own guests, and then went on to demean their cause further by saying to the interviewer, "I want to make out with you right now." Poor debate technique, Charlize. She's a great actress and probably a very bright woman, but I would not encourage anyone with anything important to promote to hook up with her.

BNJ--As a liberal I must say I completely agree with your point wherein you stated, "The First Amendment gives you the right to speak your mind, but it does not guarantee that you can say whatever the hell you want and be immune from criticism of consequence. Reducing the concept of 'free speech' to 'license without responsibility' is a thoroughly infantile interpretation." However you then immediately come to a completely absurd point that entertainment liberals do agree with that interpretation. The point to which your right-wing mindset (a libertarian?...that's a joke) has blinded you is that their redemption, as it were, in the eyes of the public was nothing but well earned. No one, myself included, ever thought Natalie was anything but responsible for her words. She was one of the very few at the time to have the guts to say something bad about our fearless leader. That is what makes the popularity of their production so sweet. Success IS the sweetest form of revenge.

Let me first say this to any one that is ashamed Bush is from your home state and that is if you are so ashamed then leave no one is holding your feet to the land. Maybe Bush is ashamed there are people like you in his state. I am sorry but when I read people say things like that it sounds more like a child then an adult. As for the Twits! Sorry but that is what they are. Yes, their words do indeed have repercussions and one thing people have seemed to forget is the fact the Twits was thumbing their noses at people that listen to country music. How funny people seem to forget how they said they never felt they were country singers and they never wanted to be in it and rock & roll is the kind of music they always wanted to play.

After that said why would a country radio station care to place these Twits on the air after it was because of those same stations the girls even have a career in the fist place?

As for me I don’t like Liberals and it is a shame they live in this country. The way I see it they should all move to the one country they be most welcomed into and that is France.

These type of people speak bad of our country then want to act like they have so much courage and guts when the fact is they have none in the first place and
Is nothing but spineless fools!

Bob might think the Twits are popular with most of the country but the fact is they are only popular with other left-wing nut jobs that hate not only Bush but this country as well.

Sorry to tell Bob but a liberal kissing the ass of another liberal is not love. If any one believes the awards the Twits got was because of how good their music is just don’t know how it works in the drive-by media and entertainment world. With the Twits, I will not say shut up and sing I will just ask them to shut up and move to France where they belong.
I also know a good deal of Americans wish the Twits were not Americans and are ashamed they are.

i love all your songs they are so cool my daddy fell in love with them

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