Just in case you don’t know (or remember) the story, the incident in question was during a concert where the Dixie Chicks were preforming in London in 2003. At some point during the show, lead singer Natalie Maines made some comments about her objections to the impending war in Iraq, including a fairly offhand remark about the president:
Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas
Uproar ensued, fueled by right-wing activists, and involved the banning of Dixie Chicks’ music from radio stations, public denouncements and CD trashings, and even death threats. (Check out the Wikipedia article on the Dixie Chicks for details on the controversy. See also Alice from And She Wrote‘s recent post concerning free speech.)
Those were darker times, all too recently, when public expression of dissent was equated with treason. It was chilling to see how violently people reacted to a few fairly innocuous words. It was a time when many people, including me, were uncomfortable about speaking out in public about political issues, especially criticism of the president and objection to the war.
The band instantly earned my respect. I hadn’t known their music before, not being a fan of country music, and still wasn’t interested in hearing their songs. But soon after news of the comment and the backlash reached us, I remember going to a local record store and buying their CD, and a refrigerator magnet that said “he’s not my president.”
The movie “Shut Up and Sing” shows how these events affected the lives and careers of the three women of the band, and how they bravely stood up for free speech. I love it that their song “Not Ready to Make Nice,” from which the title of the movie is taken, expresses continued anger over the events:
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell…
They’re right to be angry. And we shouldn’t forget what happened. We shouldn’t allow freedom of expression to be trampled.
Anyhow, the movie paints an interesting picture of recent history. It’s well worth watching. Plus it has a really great trailer: