For a few weeks this past spring, the Dixie Chicks were the United States' public enemy No. 1. (Well, numbers 1 through 3, anyway.) To country music fans -- and to diehard patriots -- the Chicks had the unmitigated gall to tell a British audience in March that they were ashamed President Bush was from their native Texas. The comment shocked and awed the American public, causing radio stations across the United States to ban the Dixie Chicks from their airwaves. The radio ban didn't thrill the U.S. Senate, including Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing about radio consolidation in early July, McCain questioned the authority of Lewis W. Dickey Jr. of Cumulus Media, which owns a group of stations, to require his stations to ban the country sex symbols' music for 30 days. Dickey then relented and said he would allow the individual stations to decide their own playlists.
The ban hardly affected the Dixie Chicks at all, however. In the first half of 2003, the Dixie Chicks attracted more than 580,000 fans to their concerts, bringing in $35.1 million, according to a recent Associated Press story.
Ironically, as war with Iraq was beginning, the Dixie Chicks were pushing a tear-jerker of a once-No. 1 single called "Travelin' Soldier" (from their latest album Home) about a wayward soldier who falls in love with a young girl before dying in battle. Even more odd is that in Iraq, U.S. soldiers were fighting for the rights of Iraqis, who were forced to watch censored television and listen to censored radio. Free speech was also prohibited. So who exactly is right in this whole affair?