Feedback: March 23 column
Below are excerpts of e-mail responses to the March 23 “Twin Pack” questions (an abbreviated version of “Half a Six Pack” and “Six Pack to Go”). Each question has five responses from readers. (Sorry, but Russ serves as the “gatekeeper” — he determines the five answers to accompany each question.) In order to make this a reader-friendly feature, some lengthy answers submitted by readers may have been shortened.
NOTE: Because last week's column about the Dixie Chicks generated a Lemmon Drops-record number of e-mails, the “Comments about the Main Topic of Column” section is expanded today.
Background: A national uproar ensued after the group's lead singer made an anti-Bush statement during a concert in London. Soon after, dozens of radio stations across the country refused to play songs by the all-female trio. Russ criticized the radio stations, including Toledo's No. 1-rated WKKO-FM (99.9), which has banned the Dixie Chicks from the airwaves “until further notice.”
1) Inspired by a comment from Bruce Springsteen: Hasn't the Bush administration taken Sept. 11 and used it as a blank check? Yes. Bush, along with the neo-conservative Republicans, are using 9/11 as a blank check to promote this crazy gun-slinging idea of “Let's strike first, before we get picked on.” I'm amazed at how many people buy his propaganda that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. Osama bin Laden must be laughing his butt off at us in the mountains somewhere. Certainly, but how would you like to be the President who didn't do everything in his power to stop attacks on this country and have someone plow an aircraft into the White House? Is this whole post-9/11 national security excessive (perhaps), necessary (probably), but can he be faulted for doing what he can to preserve the security of this country? No. And, don't forget, the election is 20 months away. Is there any doubt? I think the current Gulf War is to finish what Daddy didn't do 12 years ago (have the courage to go to Baghdad and take out Saddam). Sept. 11 gave him a motivation that the American people would fall behind … the logic is strained at best. I have no doubt Saddam is an evil man, but where is the connection to the Sept. 11 terrorists? Why is disarmament an issue all of a sudden? Why is it necessaray that the United States go in? I would tend to believe that the world changed dramatically on 9/11/01, and it's a shame. I suppose W could have taken the same route as France and Germany and caved in to the same radical groups that bombed the WTC and taken an approach of appeasement of those groups that have openly operated in those two countries, but I'm not one to sit back and keep getting my teeth kicked in. It's far better to be proactive than reactive, and after too many incidents of terrorism from the same part of the world, it's about time somebody did what needs to be done. This ain't no joyride we're on. This is life. You've got to do what you've got to do. Yes, I think Bush, Ashcroft, and company have taken 9/11 as carte blanche. We're in trouble if we don't reign this in - and soon. And hello to the “patriots” if they tap into your e-mail - in their ear!
2) Inspired by the lyrics from John Mellencamp's new “anti-war” song: What is the thought process to take a human's life? What would be the reason to think that this is right? The thought process to take a human's life in war is manipulated by military training and the conviction that the mission is valid. This administration has done a good job of that. The military are a proud bunch and have little doubt that their mission is valid. Human life is precious but, from the Bush administration's point of view, apparently only when it is an American life. This war is about two things: Ego and oil. This question is a little too peacenik for me to think you really believe it. Rather , a thought-provoker? … Mr. Mellencamp express a nice sentiment, but a hopelessly na ve one. When your life is threatened, and you have no options except to strike back, then you take the life of your aggressor. Thought process to take a life: He/she is going to take my life (or one of my loved ones) if I don't take his/hers.
The Dixie Chicks have access, like you, to a public forum. We can only vote against their words with our money. That is what is happening. There you have it. Hurray for you! You have said in your column what I wish I had the capability of getting across to many people. … I say God bless our troops, and while they are away and in harm's way - fighting for “me” and my freedom - I feel it is my duty to support them 100 percent, without reservation. God bless America! From a former Toledoan now living in Arizona: Obviously, you are not familiar with the “country” way of thinking. Some of us call it “The Cowboy Way.” We are proud of our country. Proud of our President. We fly our flag proudly. We go to church. We leave God's name in everything. If we don't agree with something, we say so and then move on. We make the best of the situation at hand. We know this: Saddam is the bad guy; Bush is the good guy. If you don't agree with that, then move to Iraq (and take Sean Penn with you). The Chicks were wrong. So, even if she did apologize, so what? She can disagree with the war, but don't dis Bush and his state. These folks (both the consumers who made the phone calls and Cumulus) are the same people who no doubt would call themselves “Patriots” and wave the flag in everyone's face. Truth is, they wouldn't know the Constitution if they fell over it. It is so much easier to join a “mob” than to think things through clearly. The Dixie Chicks decided to become political. Once they did this, everything changed and some of us no longer see them as entertainers only - but also political endorsers. So they did this to themselves. We are over there to liberate Iraq and Iraqi people, however they have already won their victory. The Iraqi “virus” has already infected a lot of our people. Those infected do not like dissent, become autocratic and destroy anyone who does not think like they do. I guess we are the losers. We once had the right of freedom of speech. My compliments to your column. I am going to contact The Blade and ask it to stop publishing your idiotic columns, and if it doesn't, I am going to boycott it. I am an American citizen residing in Canada. Thank God you are trying to put some perspective on things. The Canadian press and the rest of the foreign press (so readily available in Canada) think average Americans have simply gone off the deep end -- i.e., Dixie Chicks “lynching”; French's mustard boycotts (duh, a British product); “Freedom” fries (duh, French fries are Belgian in origin), etc. I was proud as a child to be free to read and study everything I could get my hands on, because that freedom was American. … Being American meant to have the say of one's peace, without hysterical imitation. What has happened? Did somebody put something in the water while I was away? Hey, (expletive), trashing the Commander-in-Chief is sedition during wartime. (Expletive) off too, you treasonous (expletive). I feel sorry for your kids being raised by a clueless imbecile. Signed, a vet. What on earth are we doing in Iraq if the right to free expression is not among the things to instill there and preserve here? I uphold the move by our No. 1 radio station of banning the Dixie Chicks, after listeners voted to do so, and I think it is a good lesson to the liberals who shoot off their mouths to defame America. Perhaps the Chicks should remain abroad if they are so ashamed of this country. (I am aware that a dollar-and-cents apology was made.) You seem to feel it is OK to use freedom of speech to defame your homeland, but not freedom of action/speech to react to it by banning their music. Nothing more than outright censorship. It's bad enough that these radio stations force their opinions down the throats of their listeners but, to make matters worse, they interfere with the income of this group that only expressed their opinion. Plenty of other Americans don't like and feel the war is wrong, so why single out this group? … It's wrong and it's not what this country stands for. I don't remember anyone pulling “Eve of Destruction” off the air during Vietnam and yelling at Barry McGuire. Natalie Maines has every right to show her ignorance publicly. People have every right to disagree with her and stop buying the music she produces. No one from the government is banning her music. Radio stations have the right to play what their listeners want. Shame on us for allowing a small segment of our population to frame the issues, control the media, and denounce those who [disagree] as being unpatriotic. Miss Maines has the right to her opinion. I, as a consumer, have the right to purchase and support what I wish. If you consider that vigilantism, you are an idiot. It is the free market at work. So allow me to understand. I may, with your permission, disagree with what Ms. Maines says, but I must continue to support her with my dollars? I must give my children money to buy her CDs and concert tickets? I should not express my opinion to the radio stations I listen to about her music? No, sir, I think not! She may say what she will, and I will defend her right, both on the battlefield and in court, to do so. I will also do all I can to cut off her funding. That is my right. I dunno, I think there are a whole lot more serious problems in the world than whether the Dixie Chicks get played on the radio, and I'm a bit surprised that you devoted so much space to such a trivial issue. Let [the radio stations] deal with it, however these geniuses see fit, and get on with it. You said you got a chill in your spine when you heard of the boycott. I don't believe you. I don't think you have a spine. Did ya get the John Ashcroft “chill down your spine” when homosexual activists threatened sponsors of the Dr. Laura Show on TV? Just wondering. Food for thought: I was stunned to learn one of the most popular methods of dissent in American history - the organized boycott - is now considered “vigilantism.” Martin Luther King a vigilante? Cesar Chavez guilty of mob action? Holy macaroni and cheese, before you could say “three-chinned Lemmon,” I discovered additional examples of this foul practice: 1) The Florida Citrus Commission was forced to drop Rush Limbaugh as a spokesman after carefully orchestrated condemnation; and 2) Dr. Laura was a victim of extensively coordinated protests. I also searched for any words of outrage from you, my callously corpulent correspondent. Not surprisingly, I found none. They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Too bad for you, my generously jowled journalist, it's not the same for hypocrisy. What exactly are the horrors of your imagined music vigilantes? Do they sing off-key? Don't want to give you a big head, but your observation about the Dixie Chicks was “right on.” No, I'm not a fan of theirs - just their First Amendment rights. … Your comment about Ashcroft is rather brave in such a repressive environment. The Dixie Chicks were not afraid to take a stand and get hit in their pocketbooks. The giant corporations that own the radio stations are running scared because of their income statements. It is very unattractive.
If you really think the Marina Project will get done, you are only fooling yourself. You see, I came to this area about 25 years ago, and this Toledo behavior is real. This is a great place with great resources suffocating in mediocre political leadership. The amount of vengeance and anger being applied to Iraq is astounding to me. A pretty tough week for the world … doing the right thing isn't always easy. Does The Blade have on its application a line stating that you must lean to the left to work there? Keep up the good work. I rarely agree, but you do keep me coming back.