Here we go again. Instead of a concert tour, country music mega-star Shania Twain is on an Apology Tour offering mucho Mea Culpas after saying something so offensive, so horrendous, so utterably unutterable that I shudder at the prospect of sharing it with you.
Yet, out of my affection and respect for you, Gentle Reader, I will continue. I implore you, be brave, for what Shania said was not for the faint of heart. Please…read on.
“I would have voted for him (Donald Trump),” Twain said in an interview last weekend, “because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest. Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bulls—-. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”
I suppressed a shudder as I typed that. To actually hear someone admit that they would have voted for Donald Trump (were they not Canadian) should shake you to your very core. And shaken some were, rushing to the Twitterverse to express their outrage.
That is all Twain needed to see. Perhaps it was her genetic Canadian predisposition for politeness. Possibly our neighbor to the North’s pathological aversion to confrontation. Whatever the reason, Twain caved, and did so spectacularly. Or spelunkerally, if I may be so bold as to coin a new term (Cave? Spelunk? Oh, never mind).
In a Twitter barrage worthy of the Commander in Chief himself, Shania tap-danced through the minefield, trying to convince anyone and everyone that she did not “hold any common moral beliefs” with Trump, and regretted appearing to endorse him.
Ladies and gentlemen, cowardice comes in many forms. Country trio the Dixie Chicks took a stand once upon a time, bravely deriding President George W. Bush and his Iraq policy during concerts (in other countries). The group’s career took a hit, but at least they could face themselves in the mirror. Yet I believe once Ms. Twain takes a gander at her adorable visage through the looking glass, she’ll soon get over the embarrassment of not standing her ground.
Is it a chilling assault on First Amendment rights? Nope. She’s a Canadian who lives in Switzerland. To understand, one has to use the theory of playground politics in this situation.
“But, Robert,” you say, “What are playground politics?” That is a good question. You folks always ask the good questions.
Visit any school playground and you will hear children say things that upset other kids. The social group will usually take care of the situation, either by shunning the offending child, or waiting for an apology, at which time the group accepts the verbal offender back into the fold.
Which brings us back to Shania Twain. On the playground of life, she chose to apologize to the “In” crowd so she could be accepted back into the flock.
Was she right? Was she wrong? Grasshopper, it is an answer to the wrong question that you seek. The question is threefold: Did Shania’s comments offend some people? Did she want to stand in good stead with said people? Did she alter her philosophical course to get back into her chosen group’s good graces?
There you have the First Amendment at work. Say something. Consequences happen. Apologize. Consequences happen. Cave under pressure. Roll along with popular opinion. Doesn’t matter. Everyone is free to have an opinion. Just not free from the consequences of those opinions.
Once you realize that, you’ll have grasped the concept of “free” in freedom of speech.