It started out tame enough.
“So, my question to you today is…
Are you ready? I said, are you ready? Say ‘Yes, we’re ready!’ Say ‘Yes, we’re ready!’ One more time, say ‘Yes, we’re ready!’
Yes, I am angry. Yes, I am outraged.”
Madonna’s innocent battle cry then took a hard left turn and veered into the realm of cringeworthy:
“Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”
And now, a Texas radio station is telling Madonna exactly what it thinks of her rant.
The Texarkana-area HITS 105 has booted Madonna’s music from its airwaves indefinitely.
Station manager Terry Thomas explained:
“It just feels wrong to us to be playing Madonna songs and paying her royalties when the artist has shown un-American sentiments.
If all stations playing Madonna took their lead from us, that would send a powerful economic message to Madonna.”
As some may recall, this isn’t the first time an artist has been removed from the airwaves over a controversial opinion, and the issue has previously resulted in questions about the danger that politically-motivated censorship poses to free speech.
Just days before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks announced at a concert in London that the “[the Dixie Chicks] do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”
The Texas-based Chicks — having already angered conservatives the previous year over a public feud with singer Toby Keith and his “ignorant” song “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” — saw their music pulled from stations across the country.
The backlash against the Dixie Chicks was so strong, it was chronicled in a 2006 documentary about the group called “Shut Up and Sing.”Image Credit: Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images
Senator John McCain, speaking during a 2003 Senate Commerce Committee hearing, chastised the chairman of Cumulus for what he believed to be undue censorship:
“It’s a strong argument about what media concentration has the possibility of doing,” McCain told Cumulus Chairman Lewis W. Dickey Jr. “If someone else offends you, and you decide to censor those people, my friend, the erosion of our 1st Amendment is in progress.”
Senator McCain further argued that the decision to remove an artist from the airwaves should be left to local program directors — like HITS 105’s Terry Thomas — and not massive media corporations like Cumulus.
Following that precedent, individual stations are free to play — and, of course, not play — whatever music it chooses.
And in deep-red Texarkana, it is unlikely that listeners will be missing Madonna on the airwaves anytime soon.