Congratulations Dixie Chicks!
Five Grammy Awards, including the top three awards: best record, song and album of the year, is certainly sweet revenge for being "Not Ready to Make Nice" to people who would silence freedom of political and artistic expression.
Congratulations, too, to the Recording Academy for standing up against those in radio and country music who censored them.
In so doing, the Academy was collectively acting both in its best interest and that of the democratic spirit in the United States.
One of the underpinnings of this nation is the understanding that contention and controversy are essential to a healthy democracy. Agreement, comfortable as it may seem, is actually unhealthy.
When the Dixie Chicks came under fire for a comment critical of President Bush, I made a point of buying Taking the Long Way. It was the first country music album I've ever purchases, and since I'm not a fan of that genre, it may be the last. But it was my modest way of expressing support for the three women -- a protest against the intolerant and cowardly who would censor them.
Maybe I wasn't alone. The album was one of the 10 best selling CDs last year.
But broadcast radio blacklisted them. Some group owners and stations flat out banned the Dixie Chicks. Others, in an effort at political correctness, left the decision up to the managers of each individual station.
Keep in mind that turnover in radio is rapid -- a band of vagabonds who never completely unpack their van. It's not unfair to consider station programmers nervous Nellies, panicking at one listener's negative phone call, and always fearful that tomorrow they may be on the road in search of another gig.
In the Dixie Chicks, the Recording Academy had a perfect vehicle to express anger at big broadcast radio, an industry that limits freedom of artistic expression (and fortunately is losing listeners).
After the Grammy Awards, according to published reports, Natalie Maines, the Dixie Chick whose anti-Bush comment started the whole controversy, said maybe she was now ready to make nice.
I hope not.