Re "In Nashville, Dissent Doesn't Play Well," Commentary, March 24: In describing the reaction of country music fans to the comments of Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, Tamara Conniff accuses fans who shun the band of being anti-American by "violating" her freedom of speech. On the contrary, those fans are exercising that very right themselves by urging radio stations not to play Maines' music and publicly destroying her CDs.
This is not a freedom-of-speech issue -- no one is trying to stop Maines from expressing her views. They are just reminding her that the dollars from country music fans who made it possible for her to make a statement that was broadcast around the world are not to be taken for granted. Maines is not an elected official who can be recalled. She is merely a celebrity learning the hard lesson that fans have the right to close their wallets when she opens her mouth.
Steven R. Welk
Country music fans have as much right under the Constitution to throw "verbal stones" at Maines as Maines herself has to lob verbal stones at President Bush.
Fans who express condemnation or disapproval of Maines' opinion -- by burning their own CDs and posters -- are decidedly not violating Maines' free speech rights; they are simply exercising their own.
Every president from George Washington to George W. Bush, in war or peace, has come in for heavy criticism from fellow Americans. It comes with the territory. What Maines said (she's ashamed that he, too, is a Texan) may be partisan, or not very nice, but it's not unpatriotic.
Conniff's account of the Dixie Chicks flap was insightful ... almost. Apparently she feels that "those who shun the Dixie Chicks" have violated Maines' right to freedom of speech. Dixie Chicks fans have the right to express their disagreement through nonviolent means.
Have they gone overboard? Probably. But once again, here is an example of the celebrity double standard.
Such public figures thrive and live royally on the adoration and dollars of their fans, yet they can't seem to understand that their offensive behavior might provoke a response.
Kevin G. Schoeler