The conventional wisdom is that when there is the inevitable comparision to Hilter, of anyone, you’ve lost the argument. ESPN announced that because country singer Hank Williams Jr.’s comparison of President Obama to Hilter and his subsequent explanation of his comments warranted a replacement of the singer’s “Are You Ready for Some Football?” song from the Monday Night broadcast.
From the story: “Williams told Fox News news anchors on Fox & Friendsthat this summer’s golf summit between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner was like “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.” When asked to elaborate on his analogy, Williams called Obama and Vice President Joe Biden the enemy.
Fox’s Gretchen Carlson later pressed him and said, “You used the name of one of the most hated people in all of the world to describe, I think, the president.” Williams replied, “Well that’s true. But I’m telling you like it is.”
Williams accused ESPN, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, of hindering his First Amendment Rights. Since Williams isn’t a Constitutional scholar, no they didn’t. The First Amendment protection of free speech only means the government cannot supress your free speech rights. A company, in this case a public company run by shareholders and a management team, decided to let Williams say whatever he damn well pleases. But they don’t have to play his music or pay him future royalties.
If Hank Williams Jr. doesn’t like it, he can always turn to The Dixie Chicks for advice. Their 2003 comments about “being ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas” at a concert in London, 10 days before the start of the War in Iraq, drew the ire conservatives. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly suggested they be slapped around. There were public CD burnings of Dixie Chicks music and the national network of country music stations effectively stopped playing their music. Despite these obstacles, many in the American public continued to buy their music and their 2006 album, Taking the Long Way, helped the group win all five categories for which they were nominated at the 2007 Grammy Aawards, including the top awards for Song of the Year and Album of Year despite no support from country radio (two Denver country DJs were actually fired for playing their music).
Was this “censorship?”
So for Hank Williams Jr., who tried to explain his Obama is Hitler comments as, “My analogy was extreme — but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me — how ludicrous that pairing was,” he said. “They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president. Working-class people are hurting — and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares,” Williams continued in his statement. “When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job — it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change.”
Lost on Williams is the notion that policies advocated by Speaker Boehner are the ones that hurt “working class people” the most. If he doesn’t like political leaders on the golf course, well, the Speaker spends more time on the links that the president does.
But at least Williams more or less defended his Hitler comparison as a “if the shoe fits” analogy, he didn’t say it was made “in the heat of the moment,” or was “an amazing joke,” or that his comments and ESPN’s decision was “a distraction.” But unlike the Santa Ana City Council, at least ESPN holds people accountable for their statements.
So readers know, it’s been two weeks since we asked the city’s PIO if Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez would be attending Yom Kippur services at a Temple in Orange County. We still don’t have an answer.