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News Arab News and the Dixie Chicks

  1. Apr 30, 2003 #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."
  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2003 #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!'
  4. May 1, 2003 #3
    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.

  5. May 1, 2003 #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.
  6. May 1, 2003 #5
    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'?
  7. May 1, 2003 #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.
  8. May 1, 2003 #7
    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).
  9. May 1, 2003 #8


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    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.
  10. May 2, 2003 #9
    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?
  11. May 2, 2003 #10


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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?
    Last edited: May 2, 2003
  12. May 2, 2003 #11
    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.
  13. May 2, 2003 #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.
  14. May 2, 2003 #13
    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.

  15. May 2, 2003 #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.
  16. May 2, 2003 #15
    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.
  17. May 2, 2003 #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?
  18. May 2, 2003 #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.
  19. May 2, 2003 #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'?
  20. May 2, 2003 #19
    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.
  21. May 2, 2003 #20


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    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.

    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.
    Last edited: May 2, 2003
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