May 30, 2006

When journalists don't know what censorship is

Case in point: The Tuscaloosa News's Bill Maxwell. He chimes in on the recent "rediscovered cojones" of the Dixie Chicks who, as I'm sure you've heard, don't exactly like George W. Bush. Maxwell says:

The group came back to life with a vengeance last Tuesday, when their new CD, “Taking the Long Way," was released. The CD shows that these feisty Texans refuse to be further silenced by right-wing country music fans.

The country music crowd refused to forgive (the Chicks' initial diss of Bush), diehard fans were disappointed and the Dixie Chicks watched as their music was virtually silenced on the country airwaves.

Resentful of being punished for exercising their right to free speech as American citizens, the Dixie Chicks joined the “Vote for Change" tour in 2004. Sponsored by liberal, the tour supported John Kerry against Bush.

Energized by the tour and outraged by the attacks and banishment, the Dixie Chicks began planning their next album – one that would take back their lives and careers from demagogues. Even more, Maines told Time magazine a few weeks before “Long Way" was released that she also was taking back her apology to Bush.

Maxwell, who is a journalism professor, obviously doesn't know what censorship is, like too many other Americans. Here's the facts: NO ONE prevented the Dixie Chicks from saying what they did about the president. They were not fined or imprisoned. The fact that they are "changing their minds" about their apology is proof of the lack of censorship.

What Maxwell and numerous others believe is that the First Amendment guarantees is freedom from criticism. It does not. They also fail to recognize that freedom of expression applies to the fans (or former fans) of the Chicks. This means they have every right to stop buying the Chicks' CDs and radio stations have every right to not play their music.

Just as the Dixie Chicks have every right to say what they wish, they also have the right to be as stupid as they want to be by saying things that will obviously alienate a lot of their fans. It never ceases to amaze me how those in entertainment believe that they are somehow immune from the economics of the average consumer -- that that is their freedom of expression.

Protagoras adds:

The relevant upshot is that radio stations and private individuals who choose not to buy Dixie Chicks music cannot by definition be engaging in censorship. They are just making free decisions, which they are entitled to do in a free country. It is no different from deciding to shop at Wal-Mart rather than Target (or vice-versa).

Let me put that another way. Yes, of course, you have the right to say what you think. But you do not have the rights (a) to have me listen, (b) to have me approve or support what you say, or (c) to have me continue to associate with you if I choose not to. Freedom goes both ways: if you have it, then so do I. You may speak, dress, believe, behave how you choose, but only insofar as you do not infringe on my and other unwilling others' freedom to do the same.

(h/t: Liberty and Power.)

UPDATE: Since the MuNu spam filter will not allow me to post these links in comments (someone out there still doesn't believe me) to satisfy the Scourge, here are some links that use the "c" word when discussing the DCs:

Two. (listen to it)
And even one of the fave progressive websites uses the "c" word.

Posted by Hube at May 30, 2006 09:17 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I'm going to partially disagree with you. What happened to the Dixie Chicks was a form of censorship -- but one fully permitted by the laws and the Constitution of the United States, and one that is fully valid in a free society.

My local newspaper has a policy of not permitting the word "nigger" to appear in its pages. Censorship? You bet -- but one imposed by a private entity that seeks to uphold certain standards. There is nothing wrong with that.

My brother will not permit his children to use any of the "seven bad words" from george Carlin's routine anywhere iwthin his hearing, and punishes them for it. Censorship? Yes -- but by a private individual.

Many radio stations decided to drop the Dixie Chicks because of their political statements and their impact on the bottom line. It is very much an act of censorship -- but one based upon a decision to refuse to associat themselves with certain speech.

Ultimately, there is nothing offensive about such censorship. It is censorship by private individuals and entities -- not censorship imposed by the governmetn. The Dixie Chicks remained (and remain) free to attempt to hawk their music and political views where they can -- they just do not have the right to a private forum controlled by someone else.

Ultimately, that decision to disassociate oneself from a message with which one disagrees is an act of private censorship -- and is every bit as much a fundamental liberty as the right to express a repulsive message.

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at May 30, 2006 10:23 PM

Sure, what ClearChannel did isn't illegal. But it's disturbing, just as it'd probably be more disturbing to you guys if CC were a corporation with clear ties to the Democratic party, sitting President, and policies -- making decisions based on such. It's also a "Chicks and the egg" argument. Ya really think ClearChannel was responding to "fan outrage" when they turned out the lights on the Chicks? Righhhht. With how much of the market C-Channel controls (thanks, Ronnie), it's alarming.

Further, I personally think that people who stop listening to nonpolitical music based on the politics of the artists are f***ing jackass losers. I've got Montgomery Gentry, Kenny Chesney, and a host of other country artists on my ITunes. You think I want to know how far up our pathetic President's bum they are? Heck no. Don't know, don't need to know. Do I listen to that idiotic song about blowing away Arabs? No. But nonpolitical stuff? Sure. Like the music, listen to it, folks. And get a life.

Oh, and Hube?

they also have the right to be as stupid as they want to be by saying things that will obviously alienate a lot of their fans.

Hate to tell ya, the Dixie Chicks already had a TON of non-country, non-Bush-lovin' fans. In fact, many country fans who don't like the "crossover" types would've discounted them long ago. And you might've noticed Bush's approval rating. I think the girls are gonna be just fine. ;)

Posted by: dan at May 30, 2006 10:44 PM

I bought the Chicks' new record and it is GREAT. Better than their last. Probably because it was produced by uber-god Rick Rubin, who's turned straw into gold for such acts as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash.

The record is great. Country music today SUCKS. There's absolutely no substance. The Chicks have talents. Acts like Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash and Merle Haggard have talent, as well. Such dreck as Faith Hill, Toby Keith, George Strait and Tim McGraw grate on my ears. The problem with country music today is it's extremely formulaic. No fresh faces. That's what turned me on to the Chicks -- long BEFORE they made those controversial statements. They're not afraid to inject some BLUEGRASS into their country music. In a way, I think country music has strayed too far from its roots. It's kind of like pop music is today -- all about that bottom dollar and feeding a populous too stupid to know what real music is. Clear Channel is a big problem in this country. They "program" the minds of millions. They're certainly more powerful than some will admit.

I feel bad for the Chicks. I like a lot of right-wing musicians. Just because they think like they do doesn't mean I don't like them. If you like the Chicks' music, then why the hell would you steamroll their CDs just because of some stupid, off-the-cuff remark they made? White trash, I'll tell ya!

So, I do recommend their new CD. To all you country bumpkins out there who have no life and can't let bygones be just that...go buy the damn thing. You'll have it blaring out of your pickups and trailers in NO time!

Posted by: Mike M. at May 30, 2006 10:58 PM

You guys might be surprised to know that I OPPOSED the local stations taking the Chicks off the air 3 years ago. I even considered buying tickets for the 2003 concet tour, until my liberal Democrat wife said they were too expensive and she would be angry with me if I did. But while I opposed the decision to drop them from the station lineups, I recognized their right to do so.

And no, it doesn't disturb me that CC has conser-vative ties, any more than it concerns me that the TV networks have serious liberal ties. If I get offended by the content, I turn the channel or hit the off button!

And as far as why folks would stop listening -- would you continue to support someone who publicly endorsed teh Klan, even if their music was "apolitical"? Or would you boycott a show which had a star that took some other position that you felt crossed the line? I have boycotted folks in teh past, and will in the future. As the son of a Vietnam vet who has family friends who spent time in POW camps, I won't EVER watch anything with Jane Fonda in it.

As for the new album, I won't be buying or listening. This is an explicitly political album, and every album sold will be seen as an endorsement of the views expressed by the girls. I won't support them that way.

And as far as your assessment of contemporary country music, I'll agree there are serious problems. I'll stick to Alan Jackson, George Strait, and a few other folks who stick to the genre in a manner that is faithful to tradition. And i;ll wait for it to swing back to what i believe it should be.

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at May 30, 2006 11:45 PM

Hmm, I saw the Chicks were mouthing off again and figured they must have a new album out... big suprise.

I see they are trading country fans for crossover appeal, again.

Posted by: steamboat willy at May 31, 2006 12:24 AM

I bought the Chicks' new record and it is GREAT.

That pretty much says it all. Everything else is just PR and fundraising from both sides.

In the end Clear Channel and Viacom will do what makes them the most money.

Posted by: jason at May 31, 2006 11:07 AM

There's a common problem of not knowing what censorship is. Remember during the National Endowment for the Arts debates when conservative were accused of trying to censor artists? They weren't saying that the art should be banned, just that taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for filth. Or, locally, when removing a link to blog is referred to as censorship? Get a dictionary, people.

Posted by: Paul Smith at May 31, 2006 12:43 PM


Am I missing something?

The block quote that the post is based on does not even mention censorship. Is one of those faux outrages (like the NEA) that you right wing types like to get going once in a while?

"Those darn dixie chicks, I don't want to listen to them and nobody is going to make me. "

Pssst....nobody is trying to make you.

Posted by: jason at May 31, 2006 12:54 PM


I understand not buying the current album, as it is more overtly political. Just like I wouldn't put a dime in Toby Keith's pockets in support of his braindead political bloviations.

And obviously, when I referred to folks not listening to artists based on their "politics," I was referring to the normal spectrum of politics -- like the Dixie Chicks' extremely innocuous 2003 comments. Not the KKK. Sheesh.

any more than it concerns me that the TV networks have serious liberal ties

Really? The corporations that own the American television networks have liberal ties? I'd like to read the longer version of that argument.

Posted by: dan at May 31, 2006 02:51 PM

Jason, read the headline and the last blockquote and some of Hube's remarks. I was making a general comment that many people seem to think private indivuals acting on their own amounts to censorship, which can only be done by government institutions.

Posted by: Paul Smith at May 31, 2006 03:03 PM


I have a problem with the headline.

"When journalists don't know what censorship is"

Who said anything about censorship, other than Hube and other wing nuts like Protagnorus? The Dixie Chicks have the number 1 album on billboard. How can you say - that we liberals say - the Dixie Chicks are being censored. Did the Dixie Chicks ever say that they were being censored? If so, where is the link?

(Hube - I even registered to read the whole article and Bill Maxwell never mentions censorship. Some program director at a radio station says that they would not censor any music - but that is it. )

This is straw man city. But I understand. Bush is not making the best wingnut prez ever. You need something to get outraged about.

Posted by: jason at May 31, 2006 03:27 PM

Scourge. Sorry, but you do not get to dictate what others decide to write about.

If you cannot grasp how the premise of "censorship" is involved here, it is because -- yet again -- you are a complete moron. You've proven it time and time again. That, and you've taken to making use of another DE blogger's ability to play semantical games until the cows come home. What does "Resentful of being punished for exercising their right to free speech as American citizens refer to, Scourge? The implication is that they were indeed censored -- that they have to watch what they say. Which, of course, they do NOT have to do in any way -- unless they wish to face some economic backlash which isn't censorship and which is the whole point of the post anyway. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)

Speaking of straw-men, why don't you squirm back to your place and write about how I "hate" black people since I don't write about the quota/AA anecdotes you WANT me to? Y'see, that's a REAL straw man. Or, better yet, go make more gay "jokes" about others in the DE blogosphere with whom you disagree. Remember, it's A-OK for you to do so because you're a liberal.

Posted by: Hube at May 31, 2006 04:32 PM

Where is the crow? I'm a bit hungry.

All I see is you getting testy over being called out on trying to gin up some fake outrage over nothing.

Re gays: is this like a scavenger hunt? "Gay's" is the clue - but what is the thread in question?

Posted by: jason at June 7, 2006 05:03 PM

I know your memory capacity is minimal, but you did say you didn't see anywhere where the "c" word was used regarding the Chicks -- here and on your own "site."

Oops. Amazing how I found what I did in what -- like five seconds? Wait, it's you. Scratch the "amazing" part, then.

Regarding your "it's allowed because I'm liberal" gay jokes, try over at Jokers to the Right.

Posted by: Hube at June 7, 2006 05:08 PM

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