Saturday, November 18, 2006

Censorship? Not Quite.

There’s a new movie out in the theaters. It’s about the Dixie Chicks and something to do with the fallout from their comments at a concert. That’s all I know about it because I don’t keep up with the Chicks. I agree that the Dixie Chicks exercised their "right to free speech." I have a problem with when and where they expressed their opinion.

The people attending that concert or any other concert did not pay their hard-earned money to hear the political opinions of the trio. They paid to be entertained. The Dixie Chicks have gained the publicity they have because of their talent as singers and musicians. To use that fame as a means for political posturing is inappropriate.

The Chicks want to let the world know how they feel about our presence in Iraq or our President? That's just fine. Hold a press conference. Put a link to "Our Political Stand" on their website. Write a song about it and let the fans decide. Start an organization with other like-minded celebrities. Give it a catchy name that leaves no doubt that their mission is not connected to their creative and artistic talents but rather, is to state and support their political views.

Using a concert stage, the Grammys, the Emmys or any other venue where the public is attending because of their appreciation of an artist or artists to state a political viewpoint is inappropriate. Imagine a speaker at the Democratic or Republican National Conventions breaking into song in order to showcase their artistic talents -- equally inappropriate.

The radio station owners who discontinued playing Dixie Chicks music and the fans who have turned their backs on the Chicks are expressing their opinion -- not intimidating and punishing or censoring the Chicks. They are voting with their dollars and that's what seems to work better than almost anything in our society.

Since the government has not restricted the Chick's ability to say what they think, it IS NOT censorship or a violation of the right to free speech. Screaming censorship seems to be an attempt to cloud the issue and undo the damage done to their fan base.

The radio station and music store owners who pulled the Dixie Chicks from their line-ups were either business owners who were doing what they thought was best for their business or they were individuals expressing their opinion. If the radio stations or music stores were state or government owned and they decided to pull the Chicks, well, I guess I would consider that censorship. They weren’t. They were privately owned and reacted to the comments of their customers. There are plenty of online stores where fans could buy the CDs and play them if they wanted to support the Dixie Chicks.

While I don’t identify with any political party, that’s not to say that I don’t have strong political beliefs on a number of subjects. I just keep my politics and my entertainment separate. When I go to a concert or listen to the radio or play a CD, it’s a kind of therapy for me. Music helps me escape from the stress of my everyday life or deal with emotion. With entertainment awards shows on the rare occasion I watch them, I’m there for escape. It’s light. It’s fluffy. I don’t want to hear about politics from entertainers. I’ll read the news for that. I’ll discuss the issues with enlightened, intelligent people who are willing to accept that their viewpoint isn’t the only one. Don’t sucker me in by making me think I’m going to be entertained only to blindside me with some political bullshit that’s going to raise my blood pressure. I don’t care if you’re spouting something I agree with or not. I don’t want to think about politics while I’m escaping for a little fun.

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