Blogs > Liberty and Power > Of Bigotry, Dixie Chicks, and the Constitution

May 30, 2006 12:09 pm

Of Bigotry, Dixie Chicks, and the Constitution

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David Lion Salmanson - 6/1/2006

If you haven't heard or read in print someone call rap music "city music", "urban" or "music for city folks" you just aren't looking.

And how the hell am I supposed to decide if I want to buy the Dixie Chicks if my one and only country radio station won't give it a spin? The album is already in the top-40 so somebody likes it. The station is using the publicly owned airwaves to shill an ideological agenda and punish an artist. If the songs were offensive that would be different. I complained to my local infinity station about some god-awful offensive 9/11 songs and was told some listeners wanted to hear it. Well, I'm a listener and I want to hear the Dixie Chicks but they categorically refuse to play them. The station is clearly violating its public trust.

Jonathan Dresner - 5/30/2006

the right not to be discriminated against because of it

If individuals have the right to abstain from purchasing their music, how do corporations have a different right? Moreover, given that the corporation is in the business of giving people music that they will like, why shouldn't that corporation pander to whatever biases or prejudices they believe their audience to have? Anything else is bad business sense.

Your definition of Clear Channel, et al., as "quasi-state" entities is a simple fallacy: you're mistaking one big bureacracy for another one.

And for a file-sharer to argue that an artist has a right to income....

chris l pettit - 5/30/2006

overall...not too bad... do miss the bost on a couple of things and, in true libertarian fashion, gravely oversimplify a rather complicated issue to be one of "individual rights" (which do not in actuality exist...except within a collective framework).

Your excoriations of Maxwell are quality and to the point...there is no argument there. Your analysis of the DIxie Chicks is much more problematic. now...if we were operating in a system that was based in equality of opportunity, access, etc...then your point about the consequences of their actions might have resonance. Unfortunately for your argument, we are not. Yes, the Dixie Chicks had the right to say what they wanted...they also had the right not to be discriminated against because of it. Now this does not mean that people should have to buy their records (I don' makes much more sense to download them off a file sharing service since the laws of trademark, copyright, etc are utter nonsense...and yes, I am a professor of law...specifically human rights). However, when quasi-state entities such as large corporations (Clearchannel) forbid their stations and DJs from playing the song (the standard way of promoting music - if you want some decent commentary on the subject from musicians I suggest either Tom Petty's The last DJ or anything by Del tha Funkee Homosapien), this should be the type of statist activity that libertarians should be railing against. It is discriminatory action taken not for any market reason...but to punish a political position. I can't stand politics on any side (including libertarian ideology)...but when anyone makes a point that is critically defensible and not based in ideology (that meets the criteria of law and human rights...and not positivism or rules based imposition)...that point should be allowed to stand on its merits. What the Dixie Chicks said was ideological...there is no arguing that...but they should not then be discriminated against by corporations and music companies. And the argument that such corporations are private interests does not work either...if you make that argument you must then be consistent and cannot have any problem with, say, the US government, which is basically run and influenced by those in power...namely self interested "private" businesses that can afford to spend the millions of dollars to influence policy.

So your position about the Dixie Chicks is correct regarding individual consumers...but completely misses the boat when speaking of the problems inherent in the actions of large qusi-state bodies such as multi-national corporations.

I would just ask you to be a bit more consistent and really define your terms and what you are commenting on. If you were only dealing with the narrow issue of the individual consumers not buying the records...that is fine...I would think largely irrelevant and not dealing with the core of the problem at hand...but fine nonetheless. If you were criticising the moronic way in which this journalism professor phrased his argument...that is fine too...but you went beyond that and made some mistakes of your own. Just be careful...