Here's a helpful hint for hopeful Country groups of the future... if you want to be successful, there is one demographic group that you don't want to offend: conservative white folks. Yes, it is true that one can find country fans who are black, hispanic, asian, etc, but this is the one group that if you hack `em off, your goose is cooked. Likewise, if you are a hip-hop group, you probably wouldn't want to offend black folks, and if you were a Tejano group, you probably would want to pay extra attention to not ticking off hispanics.
The Dixie Chicks didn't get this, until it was too late. However, had they remained apologetic about the comments they made attacking Bush and the war in Iraq overseas, they probably could have been forgiven by most of their fan base, but unfortunately for them, Natalie Maines seems to be suffering from turrets syndrome. Here is the lattest:
"Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."
Newsflash for Natalie Maines: Patriotism comes a close second to ones religion on the list of things most important to people in Dixie... and they have little patience for people who thumb their nose at God or Country, even if they are a group of Chicks from Dixie who can carry a nice tune.
Currently the Dixie Chicks are trying to portray themselves as martyrs, and describe those who have been critical of them as being "McCarthyites" who are trying to deprive them of their freedom of speech. Here's another newsflash for the Dixie Chicks: the way freedom of speech works is you get to say what you want, no matter how stupid it might be, and then other people are equally free to tell you how stupid they think you are for having said it. The Dixie Chicks have the freedom to attack Bush, and country fans have the freedom to not buy their records, lobby radio stations to stop playing their music, and to not spend their money on Dixie Chick concert tickets. And the more the Dixie Chicks excercise their right to offend their fan base, the more their fan base is going to turn their backs on the Dixie Chicks.
Just recently the Dixie Chicks had to cancel concerts all over the South and midwest because they weren't selling enough tickets. That's not McCarthyism, that's freedom. Freedom for people to say stupid things, and freedom for people to respond, and to spend their money as they see fit.
Personally, I was never a big fan of the Dixie Chicks... they're about 100 years too modern for my tastes, but I felt sorry for them when they initially started catching flack for what Natalie Maines said about Bush... not because I agreed with what she said, but when they apologized, it seemed to me that they should have been given a break. But this attitude that they have adopted since then, that they should be allowed to say what they want, and no one else should be allowed to respond is far more offensive than the original remarks.
Celebrities in general would be well advised to remember that their fans love them for what ever it is that they do that makes them celebrities. We don't want to know what they think about politics, and if they want to keep their fan base's affections, they would generally be better off to keep their political opinions to themselves.