Free Speech: The Controversy Over the Dixie Chicks

It’s 2003, George W. Bush is president and he calls a war in iraq due to the fact that they have “weapons of mass destruction”. This is a theory that many people at the time are questioning whether it is actually factual, and rightfully so. Since the majority of people were questioning the war, why is it that when Natalie Maines of the Country group the Dixie Chicks did, there was such an uproar of negative controversy? The United States of America is a country known for it’s ability for free speech, and as the “land of the free”, but what happened to the Dixie Chicks shows us that this isn’t necessarily the case.

March 10th, 2003 the Dixie Chicks were performing in the UK for a show on their sold out Top Of The World Tour. It was the eve before war, there were protests all over the streets of London and there were still so many unanswered questions about the reasons for the war. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks wasn’t afraid to use her voice and right for free speech when she uttered the sentence that rocked the world. After performing their hit “Travelin’ Soldier” a song about a soldier who dies in war, Natalie told the crowd “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.” The American media picked up on the statement that Natalie made at her show, and it’s safe to say that Americans were not happy.

All of a sudden, the legions of fans that the Dixie Chicks had were starting to exhile them from the country community. Radio stations were boycotting the Chicks by pulling their music completely for the airwaves. Some stations even went so far as to set up parties with tractors to run over the groups’ CD’s, as well as other events where children would stomp on the CD’s. The radio stations’ boycott of the Chicks’ music had a negative affect on the performance of their hit “Landslide”. It fell from No. 10 to No. 43, then fell off the charts completely the following week. Their hit “Travellin’ Soldier” was No. 1 at country radio and it dropped astonishingly lower the following week.


Maines issued an apology for her statement which went as follows: “As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers’ lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American.” It only added fuel to the fire. People accused Maines of faking her apology simply to save face, and that she was anti-american and unpatriotic. The Chicks addressed all these accusations made against them when they graced the cover of “Entertainment Weekly” for a controversial spread which sent americans into an even bigger rage.



The girls even caught the attention of the President himself who stated that the girls shouldn’t have “their feelings hurt, when people don’t want to buy their records”. Famous TV Journalist Diane Sawyer interviewed the girls to see how they were doing with the whole thing. Fans were booing them at their shows, and Natalie even received a death threat at one of her shows.

All of this, because of one statement. One innocent statement by a concerned American citizen who didn’t agree with the war. This begs the question, is the United States of America truly the land of the free? Was it not Natalie’s right to question the war, and to voice her opinion on what she felt about the president? Kids are taught from a very young age to speak their minds and not let themselves be torn down by others, but what kind of example is America setting to kids out there if when one woman stated her opinion, her career and life takes a threatening hit? It’s pretty scary to think that this happened not too long ago, and we have to ask ourselves if things have changed or are we all just forced to go along with what people tell us and not speak our minds.

The whole controversy over the Dixie Chicks is chronicled in the documentary “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up And Sing”, watch it and give your opinions below!


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