Friday, October 27, 2006

Shut Up & Sing

"Freedom of speech is fine, but by God, you don't do it [and something inaudible] publically." - Comment from a man who opposed the Dixie Chicks' views of the war in Iraq

I saw a preview for a documentary centered around the Dixie Chicks and their public discrimination against George Bush and the war. Not being a huge country fan, I vaguely remember that their public comments three years ago had created waves, but I was struck today by the anger and the venom with which former fans lashed out at the Dixie Chicks following their remarks in a nation where freedom of speech is supposedly valued. In fact, one clip I saw was of a man who called them Communists.

I found the backlash of former fans - and in particular the reference to Communism - to be ironic since Communisim is widely regarded as "a type of totalitarianism and has the following characteristics: a massive repression system run by well-established secret police forces, an official and far-reaching system for denunciatory activities, single party rule, censorship, imposition of an official ('the only correct') state ideology and appearance of newspeak."

So just shut up and sing, Dixie Chicks, because you're not supposed to say whatever you want whenever you want to.

"[America is] gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.' You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his [or her] right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free." - Michael Douglas as Andrew Shepard, The American President (1995)

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