With 15 little words that included being embarrassed to be from the same state as the President, the Dixie Chicks set off a storm of controversy and damaged their support among country music fans and disc jockeys.
With words of explanation and a little crying on national television last night, the Dixie Chicks attempted to set the record straight and repair their careers.
I must admit that if you gave me a thousand dollars for each song I could name by the group, I wouldn't garner enough money to buy a cup of coffee at the local diner.
But a colleague of mine who is a fan and who knows a lot about current music told me she thought it was unfair somehow that the singers are being punished for expressing their view.
My view, however, is that more people should vote with their wallets and that grownups who live or die by fan support should think before they speak or be willing to speak and accept the consequences.
I don't know how you can make a fan cough up $15 for a CD that you don't want.
Why we like someone, whether it is an actor, singer, newscaster, politician, is sometimes ephemeral, a magic of positive aura and vibrations. Can you separate the art from the artist? Probably not.
I figure the disc jockeys who are fanning this controversy are probably just panderers, but they do understand that they could pay the consequences of losing thousands of listeners if they keep playing the music or defending the Dixie Chicks. Some disc jockeys, I am willing to allow, probably feel the same as the fans in this rah, rah, rah, post-911 love it or leave it cycle America is now going through.
This leads me to comment on the news that a filmmaker has been following O.J. Simpson around and is planning to produce 13 episodes for a summer program on independent television stations.
Let me say emphatically that I will never watch that program or that channel again and if I find out the names of sponsors of the show or sponsors in general who advertise on that channel I won't ever buy their products again.
This is in keeping with my view that more of us should vote economically. I didn't eat lettuce for a year and a half in college because of the mistreatment of the lettuce pickers in California. I didn't set foot in a Cracker Barrel restaurant because they discriminated in their hiring practices.
I am a big believer in having the freedom to do something or say something but also be willing to pay the consequences of that action. I don't smoke because I want the last few years of my life to be spent walking where I want to go rather than being like my aunt who was hooked to air and never left her house. I don't use seatbelts and I accept that one day I might fly through the windshield of my truck.
I am a firm believer of the First Amendment, that papers have a right to print what they want without any prior restraint. But let me take you inside newsrooms for a second. We have a system of checks and balances. Big bad editors grill reporters over whether the information is accurate. We ask to listen to tapes and look at documents. We allow anyone along the process to question if our material is fair and accurate. Yes, we can print what we want, but we face the consequence of being sued if it is not accurate. We also face the daily reality of a reader not liking what we write and canceling their subscription.
Sometimes I think we don't realize the power we have to vote with our wallets. The problem is that even though we may stop buying from a certain company or a certain product, it needs to be organized better to have an effect. Green power is real power.
Bob Paslay is the assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He may be reached at (770) 478-5733 ext. 257 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.