Jewish World Review April 28, 2003/ 26 Nisan, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Dixie Chickens


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Diane Sawyer stared at her celebrity interviewees as if she were talking with the Cocoa Puffs bird. Natalie Maines and her two back-up Dixie Chicks did not have the good sense to take Sawyer cues during their PrimeTime Live interview. Diane lobbed several softballs their way, but the Chicks wouldn't even nibble.

Mixed-animal metaphors aside, the lasses proffered one awful interview. Between sobbing over the First Amendment and the "you knows," the only cohesive moment arrived when they paraded matching tattoos. The little ladies have chicken feet tattooed on their own feet each time one of their albums goes platinum, or gold or, well, whatever, because they weren't clear on their formula for joint tattoos.

There was little remorse from Ms. Maines, the Dixie twit who uttered on British soil that she was "ashamed" President Bush was from Texas, "We didn't walk off the stage going, 'Oh my G-d, I can't believe I said that. . . . Am I sorry that I asked questions and that I just don't follow? No." Another Chick assured, "We know some of our fans were shocked and . . . and upset, and we are compassionate to that."

These women cannot grasp how embarrassingly dense they appear because, in their daft Dixieness, they are the questioning intelligentsia of the nation. These erudite eggheads of country music coupled their Sawyer interview with the release of an Entertainment Weekly cover in which they appear naked with phrases such as "Peace," "Brave," and "Free Speech" plastered on their bodies in between Demi-Moore-type strategic hand placements. Their uppity attitude alone warrants backlash. The following is STILL posted on their Website. "We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our governments' position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost." Maines further stated, "I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration . . . ."

Celebrity politicos try my patience. Dullards such as these Chicks, Tim Robbins, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and Susan Sarandon spout, "First Amendment!" when they experience backlash for their views. Their utter inconsistency is troubling, but typical of liberal ideology. None of them defended Dr. Laura when gay groups demanded cancellation of her TV show. Their invocation of this precious freedom reflects ignorance about the language of that constitutional paragraph, let alone its purpose, "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech or of the press."

There is nothing in the Constitution, at least until Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Supremes get a Dixie Chicks album, that affords protection against the masses boycotting singers with the lasting talent of Fudgsicles. Only when Congress passes a law banning the Dixie Chicks or the IRS arbitrarily audits their advertising deductions for tattoos is the First Amendment violated.

Negative backlash against controversial views is not prohibited under the Constitution. Such stirring reactions evidence First Amendment health. Vocal ideologues are protected from government oppression, but not from the costs of controversial statements. Freedom is not without its price, even in a country of freedoms. Are your convictions strong enough to lose fans? Can your beliefs withstand the test of reduced royalties from lost CD sales?

Tim Robbins' rants about freedom and being "disinvited" from Basbeball Hall of Fame events and Susan Sarandon's shrill rebukes for United Way's withdrawn invitation are pure nonsense. The baseball folks and United Way have an absolute right to withdraw their invitations. VH-1 patriots' theories aside, free speech costs. But, celebrity constitutional scholars want unfettered speech and acceptance of them and their views, which run contra to the majority of Americans, without economic impact.

To demand the right to express one's views without being accountable to the inevitable storms of stirred controversy that are at the heart of freedom and democracy is narcissistic. In fact, dear socialists of Grammy and Hollywood fame, demanding no backlash from a vocal presence in the public square IS un-American.

These folks never put their money where their mouths are. A search of campaign contributions by donor name finds Ms. Maines nowhere. Her defender, Bruce Springsteen, has a total of $1,000 in political donations, to Bill Bradley. Tim Robbins? $1,200 to the Directors Guild of America. Susan Sarandon is benevolent: In 2002, she gave $250 to Charles Rangel, $500 to the Green Party and $250 to the Natural Law Party. In 2000, $250 to Ralph Nader, $250 to the Natural Law Party, and $1,000 each to Hillary Clinton and Bill Bradley.

Celebrity vigor in defense of rights, politics and ideology has its limits. Their views run with media coverage, but never reach into their pockets. Their convictions are as shallow as their understanding of free speech and the price it commands.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

Up

04/22/03: "Squaw"king over a peak
04/16/03: Pulling the old Johnnie Cochran
04/07/03: The other casualties of war
02/27/03: War and principle
02/20/03: Diabolical women
02/14/03: Deadhead poets and society
02/07/03: Misguided compassionate conservative
01/31/03: The Wisk "fix it!" mentality
01/24/03: There are only two types of people in the U.S.: Trial lawyers and their clients and those who have had to pay trial lawyers and their clients
01/16/03: "My ex is a minority, so I deserve special treatment"
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12/05/02: Amazing Grace that saved me from my CO2 emissions
11/27/02: Free speech, Harvard, and First Amendment looneys
11/25/02: Eminem culture
11/14/02: Hollywood trash
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10/22/02: Nobel Prizes and other ventriloquist acts
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03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
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03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
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02/25/02: Don't take the gold
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09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
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08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
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06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
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04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
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02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
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07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
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06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings