Friday, October 27, 2006

Show your support for the Dixie Chicks

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to Variety, NBC is refusing to air national ads for the new Barbara Kopple documentary Shut Up & Sing, which examines the aftermath of the Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines's now notorious remark during a concert in 2003 that the Chicks are ashamed that President Bush is from their home state of Texas. (The ad has run in New York and L.A., but not nationally.)

Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Co., which is releasing the film, put it well: "It's a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American."

It seems that "NBC's commercial clearance department said in writing that it 'cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.'"

How ridiculous. This is about free speech. This is about not having one's political views censored -- in this case by a private broadcaster that is acting as a political censor.

This is about everything America is supposed to stand for.

Think Progress has the ad here. Go watch it.

Gleen Greenwald, as usual, has some excellent commentary here. And see also The Carpetbagger Report, Crooks and Liars, AMERICAblog, and Balloon Juice.

Greenwald: "Leave to the side for the moment the fact that this controversy is far more likely to help the film than hurt it. Far more important than that issue is the emergence of a very disturbing trend whereby television networks are refusing to broadcast political advocacy material that will offend the Republican power structure in Washington."

Exactly right. As Steve Benen of TCR puts it, "this is part of a trend". One that threatens the very foundations of American democracy.

That trend must be stopped. Show your support for the Dixie Chicks, free speech, and unpoliticized airwaves. Go see Shut Up & Sing. Buy a Dixie Chicks album. Or more than one. Or just a song. Check out the Shut Up & Sing blog at MySpace. Check out the Dixie Chicks' website. And their Columbia/Sony website. And their MSN website. And support Conservation International.

And watch these two clips. The first is the theatrical trailer for Shut Up & Sing. The second is the Dixie Chicks on Letterman this past May performing "Not Ready to Make Nice," their bold and courageous response to the controversy.

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