Arab News and the Dixie Chicks

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  • #1
The Saudi newspaper Arab News had an article about the limites of American democracy. The writer even had something to say about the Dixie Chicks. I thought it was fun:

"During this crisis patriotism as practiced in the United States reached alarming levels of intolerance and violence. The right of the other to dissent was unceremoniously thrown aside. If we take what happened to the Dixie Chicks as an example, one is hard-pressed to justify or even comprehend the incident. One of the ladies said she was ashamed of Bush being from her home state of Texas. She said it while performing on a stage in London. Had the Chicks been living under Saddam, we know a priori what would have happened. But knowing they lived in the United States one thought that the debate would have maintained a semblance of civility."

"Instead, they were attacked, taken off radio stations, and callers to the same stations spewed so much venom that it inevitably culminated in on-the-air death threats. Obviously, democracy is skin deep. I thought it was just foreigners like me who received death threats and viruses through their emails. I was wrong. This raises another issue: Could the Homeland security people tell the world why such people were not apprehended? Those who threaten to kill someone for reasons of ideology or a point of view are terrorists. No argument there. In this time of high security alert, it is amazing that such people get away with it. In all honesty, it is not very different from any petty dictatorship where the party clique and those close to power can do what they like when the rest are robbed of their basic rights."
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Hmmmmmmm...that is a good question. Has the FBI been notified of the senders of death threats to the Dixie Chicks? Surely so...

The common attitude of people towards the Dixie Chicks, and anyone famous who exercises unpopular free speech seems to be 'They have the right to free speech...but we should get together and punsih them as best we can!'
 
  • #3
Tog_Neve
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No actually it is that they have the right...as the Dixie Chicks did to say what they wanted. And we have the right to not purchase their music..go to their concerts...let the radio stations know our feelings...and tell whomever we want to that we dont like them.
The Dixie Chicks are free to have their opinions and to voice them. And they are free to live with the consequences of their actions.
They want to whine and cry and say they were not treated fairly...they were just expressing their right to free speech... And we Americans are expressing ours by not buying their stuff anymore and calling the radio stations and requesting them not play their music anymore... the radio stations are driven by what the listeners desire... not what the radio stars want to have put out.

Tog
 
  • #4
^^^ It's not a First Amendment issue, but I do think what happened to the Dixie Chicks was very bad, a textbook example of self-righteous patriotic hysteria -- and I'm pro-war and think the Dixie Chicks suck musically. The issue is whether the expression of certain political opinions ought to become a litmus test for those in non-political careers.

The response to the Dixie Chicks' statement implies that a large portion of their listeners feel they oughtta be punished, or at least not supported, for daring to express such a view as not liking President Bush. While that's pretty much what I expect out of ,ich of their listener base (hicks), it's a dangerous sentiment in a democracy, because it stills public debate by marginalizing all but the most popular view.
 
  • #5
Originally posted by Tog_Neve
No actually it is that they have the right...as the Dixie Chicks did to say what they wanted. And we have the right to not purchase their music..go to their concerts...let the radio stations know our feelings...and tell whomever we want to that we dont like them.
The Dixie Chicks are free to have their opinions and to voice them. And they are free to live with the consequences of their actions.
They want to whine and cry and say they were not treated fairly...they were just expressing their right to free speech... And we Americans are expressing ours by not buying their stuff anymore and calling the radio stations and requesting them not play their music anymore... the radio stations are driven by what the listeners desire... not what the radio stars want to have put out.

Tog

No, this doesn't contradict what I'm saying at all. You are saying that, as a private citizen, you should do everything in your power to destroy the careers of people you don't agree with. When you decide to not buy their albums, that is one thing; when you call the radio station to try to make sure that NOBODY hears them, that's another thing entirely. Just because teh censorship is coming from you and the radio station, and not the government, doesn't make it any more right, or more 'pro-American'. I personally think it is an un-American idea to try to make sure that you are NEVER exposed to ideas you don't agree with...but that's just me.

What ever happened to 'agreeing to disagree'?
 
  • #6
I think there are quite a few issues here. First, democracy and free speech should be strong enough without their being a desire to harm someone's career because they utter a few unpopular words. The radio stations shouldn't be such wimps that they run at the first sign of danger and jump on a censorship bandwagon which is likely to blow over in a few weeks. They seem to scared at loss of revenue, they'll always play safe and not subject themselves to risk. The result is safe a safe product that sells well but which has no edge, no controversy, no desire to stimulate.

The Dixie Chicks are as much as part of this packaged system as anyone. Look how quickly the womna ran to apologize for her statement. Why did she do that? To protect sales, to protect her income. That's how much her political convictions were worth.

Mainstream America is extremely conformist, afraid of opinions which rock the boat. The individualism is a myth; it's really an individualism aimed at justifying the ecomnomic system (the freedom of corporations), not one of free expression. If this were a seriously individualistic country, the Dixie Chicks would be able to say whatever the heck they want without people rushing to the telephones to ban their music.

Not that I like the Dixie Chicks. I prefer the spoof punk band Chix with Dix but that's another matter.
 
  • #7
Sting
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I think it's a personal shame for the Dixie Chicks (although if I were really concerned with my career, I would try to refrain from extremely critical speech).
 
  • #8
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
No, this doesn't contradict what I'm saying at all. You are saying that, as a private citizen, you should do everything in your power to destroy the careers of people you don't agree with. When you decide to not buy their albums, that is one thing; when you call the radio station to try to make sure that NOBODY hears them, that's another thing entirely. Just because teh censorship is coming from you and the radio station, and not the government, doesn't make it any more right, or more 'pro-American'. I personally think it is an un-American idea to try to make sure that you are NEVER exposed to ideas you don't agree with...but that's just me.

What ever happened to 'agreeing to disagree'?
A protest call to a radio station is still protected free speach. These people aren't actively preventing the radio station from playing the albums, they are making individual statements that if you play this album, I won't listen. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Zero, it seems like you are putting the Dixie Chicks' right to make money above the average citizen's right to free speech.

In my view this is far better than organized protests. Its real.
 
  • #9
Originally posted by russ_watters
A protest call to a radio station is still protected free speach. These people aren't actively preventing the radio station from playing the albums, they are making individual statements that if you play this album, I won't listen. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Zero, it seems like you are putting the Dixie Chicks' right to make money above the average citizen's right to free speech.

In my view this is far better than organized protests. Its real.

I don't suggest banning either sort of speech. I simply suggest that I don't see what someone's political opinions have to do with their music. Why would you stop liking someone's music because they disagree with you?
 
  • #10
Hurkyl
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The interesting question I haven't seen raised is how can free speech be protected? Or is it right that it should only be protected from the government and not from citizens?
 
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  • #11
Tog_Neve
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I don't suggest banning either sort of speech. I simply suggest that I don't see what someone's political opinions have to do with their music. Why would you stop liking someone's music because they disagree with you?
And in some ways I agree. However if people in a public limelight want to use their current popular stature to spread their political agenda then IMO they open themselves up for the public to use the same forum (public opinion) to counter back. And IMO if I wanted to hear the Dixie Chicks political opinion then I would buy a ticket for their political discussion concert and not a music concert. If I paid to hear music and entertainment then that is what I want to hear and not their political views.
 
  • #12
If we assume, and it's a huge assumption, that I love the Dixie Chicks and their music, that I just can't get enough of their stuff and if we also assume that I support President Bush the whole way and I think the war in Iraq was a jolly good idea, it would still not bother me if a Dixie Chick got up in public and said the president was a fool and the war was a bad idea.

I wouldn't simply think, "Good music but their politics suck". I wouldn't stop buying the music, wouldn't call any stations to have them banned.

The fans wanting the Chicks banned are trying to limit the freedom of speech of the Dixie Chicks; they are making America a meaner and narrower place by wanting to rid the airwaves of dissenting voices. That is sad.
 
  • #13
Tog_Neve
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Lets make the same assumptions.
That would be your choice not say or do something.
Me although I would also say the same thing... good music bad politics I could also make the decision that what they said or did or continued to do or say had met my own personal tolerable levels. Each person has their own tolerance levels for things. It is just like your dealings with any other person. No matter what that person does there maybe other things that they do that would "turn you off" of that person so in turn you make concious attempts to avoid that person.
Not buying the CD's or going to the concert would be a way to "avoid" someone like the Dixie Chicks. The fans calling the radio stations and such are using their freedom of speech to let the venues they listen to know their opinion on the matter.
It is the people of America who wanted to listen to them to begin with that got them where they were. And if the people of America do not want to listen to them anymore then the people of America are free to do so. It is not making America any meaner or narrower. What it is doing is showing these people who got to where they are at to remember how they got their...the people of America.
People like the Chicks and others that are in the public eye do have a responsibility. Yes they do have a responsibility...most all have contracts with certain labels or studios. And they could jeapordize that thus causing studios loss of revenue (Even if the people did not call radio stations and just quit buying albums and tickets). So the actions of these public figures directly affects people other than themselves.
It is because of their status in life that they have to be wary of what they say or do...it is the price of fame.
And like I said before I do not go to a concert to hear the musicians political stance on things....I pay to go hear them play music...keep the politics at home and get to strumming that guitar.

Tog
 
  • #14
Tog, I agree with you. The public is free to buy or not buy, free to ring stations or not as it sees fit. The Dixie Chicks also has business responsibilities to its label, etc. But it is still sad that there is not the level of tolerance that it doesn't matter what people say so long as it is not completely and utterly offensive and unacceptable (ie defending necrophilia or the like).

Why is everyone so afraid? yes, we know. People do not want to lose money. But I have looked into this. The Dixie Chicks setback was temporary. Their careers have not suffered, they might even make more money as a result of the controversy.

The culprits and cowards to me are the radio stations and record label who are so touchy about public opinion and thereby their revenue that they knee jerk into over-reacting. Let people say what they want to say without having paying too much attention to a storm that will pass.
 
  • #15
Tog_Neve
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Yeah but the radio stations make their money off of the people...the more people that listen then the more ad revenue they get. I agree that often knee jerk reactions are generally far to extreme...but most think better to go overboard and then come back than to not do enough and fear losing forever.
Somewhat understandable...if it appears that the reaction of the people is to not want to listen (majority of calls they are getting, etc) then it is a lot easier to go ahead and pull the album off the air and when the heat is settled put it back on than it is to try and convince the listeners to come back.
 
  • #16
OK< all well and good...but where does that urge come from? That need to only want to traffic with people who agree with you on everything?
 
  • #17
In two lines, Zero has summed up the dilemma (guess that's why he's a mentor). My wife is a priest, I'm an atheist; she's black, I'm white. If she and I behaved like these lunatic music fans we'd never even speak to each other, we wouldn't even meet in the first place. It should be, and is, possible to negotiate and communicate about differences of culture, politics, spiritual belief or lack thereof. It is sad when we only want to associate with, and listen to, people who are like us.
 
  • #18
You see it all the time: the loss of the idea that we proud to be one country with many viewpoints. The urge is to try to force people through intimidation to think just like you, or at least shut up and pretend that they do. We have an amosphere now where people are afraid to voice their OPINION, because there are people who will want them to 'pay consequenses' for them. Why should you have to suffer because your speech makes complacent people nervous? Screaming 'Fire!' in a crowded theater isn't protected speech...but do we blast someone for saying 'I think I smell smoke'?
 
  • #19
Tog_Neve
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OK< all well and good...but where does that urge come from? That need to only want to traffic with people who agree with you on everything?
I bet some would never expect me to say anything like this
but it is evolution :wink:
It is in human nature to want to associate with "like" minded individuals.
It is not always right and often we can override it as well.
And these associations are different for everyone.
 
  • #20
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
I simply suggest that I don't see what someone's political opinions have to do with their music. Why would you stop liking someone's music because they disagree with you?
Oh c'mon, Zero. Boycots are as basic a protest tactic as you can get. A person's money is the only real leverage they have in this situation. People like Nike shoes but boycotted Nike after they found out about the sweatshops for example.
Wal-Mart
K-Mart
Exon
McDonalds

And I don't think I need to remind EVERYONE here that politics is simply a lot of people aguing over things that ultimately are a matter of opinion. And simple differences of opinion lead even to war. A music boycot is a pretty benign political expression.
 
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  • #21
Tog_Neve
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You see it all the time: the loss of the idea that we proud to be one country with many viewpoints. The urge is to try to force people through intimidation to think just like you, or at least shut up and pretend that they do. We have an amosphere now where people are afraid to voice their OPINION, because there are people who will want them to 'pay consequenses' for them. Why should you have to suffer because your speech makes complacent people nervous? Screaming 'Fire!' in a crowded theater isn't protected speech...but do we blast someone for saying 'I think I smell smoke'?
So what you are saying is that if someone stands up on a soap box and states their mind then everyone else should sit back and accept it and not voice a difference of opinion or anything of that nature?
No one is trying to force anyone to a point of view, or to pretend anything. It is common sense though that if you open your mouth then you best also be prepared to have someone disagree with you. IF you are making millions because people are buying a product of yours then be prepared to have some of those people stop buying that product or service...it does not matter if the comment was for or against whatever...there is always an opposing view.
 
  • #22
Tog, what I am saying (I obviously can't speak for Zero) is that PF is a good model of how it could be in the world. You and I can disagree but I have no need to colonize you, bite your head, call you insulting names or harm your ability to make a living.
 
  • #23
There is a difference between having the attutude of "I disagree with you' and 'I want you to be punished for your opinion.' Many people are eager to see the Dixie Chicks PUNISHED for saying something unpopular. I think that outlook is more troubling than whether or not they lose some money.

And, Russ..protesting human rights violations is different from protesting against someone's exercise of free speech.
 
  • #24
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
There is a difference between having the attutude of "I disagree with you' and 'I want you to be punished for your opinion.' Many people are eager to see the Dixie Chicks PUNISHED for saying something unpopular. I think that outlook is more troubling than whether or not they lose some money.

And, Russ..protesting human rights violations is different from protesting against someone's exercise of free speech.
Its still punishing Nike for their beliefs, Zero. Their belief in this case is that its not their problem if the laws of Indonesia are bad and its not their responsibility to get them changed.

Or punishing McDonalds for believing that GM corn is a reasonable thing to feed cows.

All forms of protest are about beliefs, Zero.
 
  • #25
Originally posted by russ_watters
Its still punishing Nike for their beliefs, Zero. Their belief in this case is that its not their problem if the laws of Indonesia are bad and its not their responsibility to get them changed.

Or punishing McDonalds for believing that GM corn is a reasonable thing to feed cows.

All forms of protest are about beliefs, Zero.

No, protesting Nike's ACTIONS is different from protesting against someone's OPINIONS.
 
  • #26
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
No, protesting Nike's ACTIONS is different from protesting against someone's OPINIONS.
So someone's opinions are completely separated from their actions? You don't think the Dixie Chicks might act on their beliefs? It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Dixie Chicks contribute money to the Democratic party. Thats an action. And thats an action that people directly aid when they buy their cd's or listen to them on the radio. No, I don't know for sure that they contribute, but its better to be safe than sorry.
 
  • #27
Originally posted by russ_watters
So someone's opinions are completely separated from their actions? You don't think the Dixie Chicks might act on their beliefs? It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Dixie Chicks contribute money to the Democratic party. Thats an action. And thats an action that people directly aid when they buy their cd's or listen to them on the radio. No, I don't know for sure that they contribute, but its better to be safe than sorry.

Ok, so you feel that you should do what is in your power to avoid helping in any way, people who disagree with your political views.

Why?
 
  • #28
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
Ok, so you feel that you should do what is in your power to avoid helping in any way, people who disagree with your political views.

Why?
Maybe I should clarify - I would try to avoid helping other people voice opinions that I don't agree with or taking actions I don't agree with. The Dixie Chicks can have whatever opinion they want, but I will choose not to buy them a forum for voicing it. And I certainly am not going to help the Dixie Chicks fund the DNC or campaign for the DNC's next election which I fully expect them to do.

You make it sound like I'm trying to starve them. Thats absurd.
 
  • #29
Originally posted by russ_watters
Maybe I should clarify - I would try to avoid helping other people voice opinions that I don't agree with or taking actions I don't agree with. The Dixie Chicks can have whatever opinion they want, but I will choose not to buy them a forum for voicing it. And I certainly am not going to help the Dixie Chicks fund the DNC or campaign for the DNC's next election which I fully expect them to do.

You make it sound like I'm trying to starve them. Thats absurd.

So, their politics mean more to you than music? Even if you REALLY liked their music, you would worry that a nickle of your money might support a Democrat?
 
  • #30
Tog_Neve
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For me it comes down to this.
The Dixie Chicks are free to say what they want. If I had purchased tickets to their concert and they started making political speaches I would be upset (even if I agreed with them), I paid money to hear them play music...that would be the reason I like them...and not to hear their views of the world.
But just as they are free to voice their opinion of things, I too am free to not purchase their music, even if I did like it. I am also free to disagree with their opinions. I am also free to discuss with others my disagreement with their opinions. And if enough people also disagreed with their opinions and did like me and quit buying their music then oh well they lost some money.
And I would have to say "yes" to Zero (even though directed to russ). If the Dixie Chicks were funding an organization that I strongly disagreed with, not something as benign as the Demo party but maybe something worse like Advocacy group for beating children, or something as terrible as that) then I would also probably stop purchasing their music. It would depend on how strongly I felt for or against it.
And like I said before it comes down to personal tolerance levels. Everyone is different and has different levels of tolerance.

Tog
 
  • #31
In the longer run, the Dixie Chicks have not suffered economically at all. The reverse is true, and what with their nude front cover, they're making big money again.

I don't think what she did in London could be called a speech though. She merely stated that she was ashamed to be from the same state as George Bush. It might even have been made as an ironic little quip of the sort the British love. Boycotting the Chicks for that statement was ridiculous, even if we were at war.

The Dixie Chicks are more interested in making music, being famous and making money that in politics, so I think they'll keep their mouths shut from now on. They won't bite the many hands that feed them.
 
  • #32
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
So, their politics mean more to you than music? Even if you REALLY liked their music, you would worry that a nickle of your money might support a Democrat?
Since their music is pathetic, this is all a hypothetical, but yes. I might. I have a hard time believing you wouldn't do the same.

I, for example, have heavily reduced my music purchases due in part to the politics of the RIAA.
 

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