#2. Natalie Maines Gets Banished from Country Music for Acting Like a Country Musician
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There's an odd dynamic between country music and authority. On the one hand, country musicians have long prided themselves on being the kind of people who take no shit from no one in any situation, so rejecting authority is almost always looked upon favorably. That said, country musicians, historically, are a fiercely patriotic bunch. So it's more like questioning authority is usually fine, but questioning authority that actually matters for anything is a no-no.
The best example of the country music community ostracizing one of their own for doing exactly what the "rebels" who founded the genre would have you believe is exactly their kind of misbehavin' was Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks. She had the audacity to tell an audience in England that she was ashamed to be from the same state as then president George W. Bush.
This was at the height of Bushmania in the United States, a term I just made up to describe that period of time when criticizing the war in Iraq (or the actions of the Bush administration in any capacity, really) was enough to get you labeled a traitor on the conservative talk show circuit.
It was way worse than that with Natalie Maines, though. She wasn't just called names; her band, at least for a while, was completely eradicated from country radio. Fans gathered around in protest to burn Dixie Chicks merchandise and run steamrollers over piles of their music.
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Except for these hippies, apparently.
A concert tour that was expected to be one of the biggest of the year devolved into a series of cancellations and angry protests from people swept up in that special kind of crazy that only blind faith can cause. Suddenly, country musicians weren't supposed to be outspoken outlaws, they were supposed to "shut up and sing," while Bill O'Reilly and company were designated the sole beneficiaries of the right to talk shit about the government.
Basically, it was country music turning on a country musician for doing what country musicians are supposed to do, and it worked really damn well. The Dixie Chicks did manage to regroup and record another Grammy-winning album in the wake of the fiasco, but apparently, when they titled the lead single "Not Ready to Make Nice," they meant it, because they haven't been seen since.
#1. Chris Kluwe Supports Same Sex Marriage, Immediately Vanishes From the NFL
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When Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay shortly before the 2014 NFL draft, there was widespread speculation that his honesty would cause his value in the draft to plummet. NFL owners and executives spoke anonymously about knowing of several team officials who had already confirmed that having him in an NFL locker room would prove too much of a distraction for the players in the notoriously homophobic league.
In the wake of that news, several NFL players took to Twitter to declare their support for Michael Sam and assure the fans that they would have no problem at all playing on the same team as him, providing at least some hope that maybe all the talk about falling draft stock was overblown hype. That said, the draft hasn't happened yet, and the story of another NFL player with ties to the gay rights movement suggests that Michael Sam may indeed have something to worry about.
On the bright side, worrying about something other than chronic concussions might be a nice change of pace.
That player is Chris Kluwe. Up until 2012, he was a punter for the Minnesota Vikings. He also happens to be an outspoken supporter of gay marriage rights, which probably explains why he's now a retired NFL punter at the relatively young age (especially for a kicker) of 32. In fact, if you ask Kluwe, there's no probably about it. He wrote an article about the matter for Deadspin under the cryptic headline "I Was an NFL Player Until I Was Fired by Two Cowards and a Bigot."
Meaning what, exactly?
In that article, Kluwe ran through a laundry list of uncomfortable exchanges and interactions between himself and the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff over his support for same-sex marriage. At the time, he was in his eighth season as an NFL player. By the time that season ended, his career was over. The Vikings cut ties with Kluwe at the end of 2012, and his subsequent tryouts with other teams failed to yield a contract offer.
There's a good chance that all of Kluwe's outspokenness, at least in the short term, won't go too far in making things more comfortable for Michael Sam as he prepares to (hopefully) play for an NFL team, but he does have one act to his credit that seems to have been the catalyst for righting a longstanding wrong. As one of his last acts of defiance, during a December 2012 game against the Chicago Bears, Kluwe covered the Hall of Fame patch on his jersey with a Post-It note that said "Vote Ray Guy."
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Pictured above somewhere, probably.
See, the NFL had never inducted a punter into the Hall of Fame, and Ray Guy was far and away the best there ever was. There's no way to confirm that Kluwe's Post-It was even partially responsible, but in 2014, the NFL finally gave Ray Guy the plaque he deserves.
Whether the league has changed its stance on hating gay people remains to be seen.
Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should listen to on Soundcloud and a live stand-up comedy show of the same name that you should come see sometime if you're in the Los Angeles area. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.