Dixie Chicks Update: Show Them Some Mercy

KRT Wire | 03/22/2003 | Players seem willing to give All-Star-playoff-homefield-advantage proposal a try
I strongly favor free speech, but that doesn’t mean it comes without consequences. Oh, like irritating your fan base, lost radio airtime, lower record sales and the like.

I’m not sure the good people of Oklahoma deserve the Chicks as Lance Berkman seems to want. Since they, along with most celebrities, tend to make these kind of remarks overseas, they could stay there. That would be more just.

Houston outfielder Lance Berkman, a native Texan, was outraged that Natalie Maines, a member of the Texas-based country music trio Dixie Chicks, opened a concert in London by saying, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” Said an angry Berkman: “I don’t want to shoot them or anything. I just want them to move to Oklahoma.”

UPDATE: Seems the people of Nashville have similar feelings:

The battle started March 10 in London, where the Dixie Chicks, easily the most successful girl bluegrass/country group in modern times, were playing to a sold-out house. Singer Natalie Maines picked that moment to open her large but engaging mouth.

She put her whole leg in.

“Just so you know,” she told the British audience, “we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

It took no time at all for the comment to spirit its way back home, where the response was immediate and striking. The Texas-spawned Chicks were banned from many country music stations around the nation. A vast, Internet-enabled debate exploded among country music fans.

Deejays urged listeners to cut up their Dixie Chicks CDs and send them to Sony Music Corp. They set up Dixie Chicks garbage disposal cans and held rallies at which Dixie Chick albums were smashed by tractors. The Chicks, who were hot, hot, hot until Maines’ comment, lost lots of fans over a few words.

“I will no longer spend one red cent on Dixie Chicks merchandise, whether it be CDs or concert tickets,” wrote Texan Kim Roper “a former Chicks fan” in a bitter e-mail posted on Countryreview.com. “Nor will I leave the radio on when a Chicks song is played, just as I will turn the channel if I see them on TV.”

There were many more messages in the same tone.

Dave Kelly, the program director at Nashville’s WKDF radio, said he has never seen anything like the reaction in his 11 years of country programming. The station received some 3,000 e-mails on the first day of the flap and had to install an extra telephone line just to take complaints.

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