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Live Free or Die

An Open Letter to Lieutenant Layne McDowell

After the Dixie Chicks decided to do the unholy — express shame — one of our brave and bold fired off a letter to them talking about freedom of speech while simultaneously advocating censorhip. Here’s a rebuttal.

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At ease, Private.

I received your letter today, passed along by someone I’m guessing is sympathetic to your jingoistic babble. Quick question, Layne: do you conduct independent thought or do you actually believe all of the nonsense you’ve thrown on the Internet? Because it is without a doubt one of the most painfully inarticulate mission statements I’ve seen with regards to our current drive to dominate the world. And that’s sad, because I’d hope that someone with a brainpan capable of flying such hi-tech equipment would also be capable of having a thoughtful, open mind. At the very least, I expected that the high ideals you espoused in print after the deaths of the Columbia astronauts would filter into your real life.

But alas, you seem to have a real problem with free speech. Funny how you say you’ll traipse halfway around the world to blow up stuff to protect the First Amendment, but the second someone exercises that said right in a way that’s patently innocuous, the bonfires are lit and 1930s Berlin is magically transported to 21st century Texas. Why is it such a crime to say to be ashamed that George W. Bush is Texan? In the global arena, saying you don’t like that someone was born in a certain place is about as saying I’m ashamed that Nixon was from California because I’m Californian. Who cares?

Frankly, I’m ashamed that George Bush is even American, let alone that he’s from Texas — but this is hardly a critical statement. He’s an idiot, one of the biggest idiots around, and the worst president of all time according to veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas. Lambasting our leader was considered fun and entirely appropriate until the Twin Towers fell. Now, all of a sudden, it’s considered unpatriotic to voice any dissent against him? Are you kidding me?

Let me ask you a question: You say you’ve served proudly in Kosovo, so I’m guessing you were deployed while President Clinton was in office. Now, I’m hardly a fan of Clinton, but where was such vociferous defense of him while we engaged in “war” in Eastern Europe and the Middle East? Why is it so fundamentally important to defend Bush now and not Clinton then? Clinton is just as big of a hayseed as Bush and the rib-poking didn’t stop for eight straight years. Tell me, Layne, why now is any different?

If you truly are working in the best interests of making America a free, safe place to be, you’d stand there and protect brave individuals who, like it or not, present a different viewpoint than that one the media would like us to believe is the majority, rather than attempt to chastise them even though you may disagree.

You’d also realize that things like the PATRIOT Act are destroying the very values we’re trying to impress on the Middle East through military action, and that friends of our President profit off of our destruction and callous disregard for the sovereignty of a nation. What have you done to deserve sacrificing yourself for that?

In the future, when you decide to commit words to paper to label a trio of country singers as dissidents, take a look at our flag and remember a time when this nation was built on the blood and energy of such a revolutionary action as daring to speak your mind. And know that the use of blanket statements like “Never once in our history have we committed troops to war for the purpose of taking innocent lives” makes you sound like an ignorant fool.

I don’t care where you’ve flown or how many people you’ve killed in the name of the United States. It has zero bearing on what happened on that stage in England, and it surely does not give you the onus to be a rock critic. Your constant evocation of your Stars and Bars reeks of a sad attempt to lend weight to your statement by virtue of your station in life.

I chuckle at how smug and self-important you sound when you say you’re sending back all of your Dixie Chicks CDs. First, they don’t care; they’ve already made their money on your initial purchase. Second, would you bat an eyelash if I told you I was going to stop financing the military? Third, real men don’t listen to girl singers, cowboy!

Oh wait, I started to sound like a Texan. And I’m deeply ashamed of them.