WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Mike Breen 12.20.2012
Posted In: Local Music, Music News, Music Commentary at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
otr

Over the Rhine Band Co-Founder Issues Open Letter to NRA

Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine pleads with gun-rights group to change its ways

In the aftermath of last week's once unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, discussion about mental health services and gun control — thanks largely to social media — has grown to become the major topic of national discourse. During campaign cycles, certain music fans complain loudly about artists expressing their opinions about candidates and causes, using the old "shut up and sing" line to insinuate that, as entertainers, one somehow loses the right to speak their mind. Yet many other serious music fans understand that music and art are a reflection of our society — an artist can offer different perspectives that might help people understand some serious issue better or maybe even help them evolve their own views on particular subjects. I'm not saying we should follow artists blindly like some kind of cult. To quote Oasis, "Please don't put your life in the hands/Of a Rock & Roll band." But I for one am always eager to hear what musicians and other artists and writers I respect have to say about current affairs. Whether within their own art or speaking out in public, artists have the same right as non-artists to express opinions. It seems that the ones with particularly large followings are the musicians attacked most often for expressing views on politics or other controversial world affairs. They fear the power an artist can have if they express an opinion divergent from their own (in much the way liberals and conservatives fear the power Fox News and MSNBC might wield). Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist have never been afraid to speak up. The married braintrust behind longtime Cincinnati-based band Over the Rhine — which has a dedicated and loving international fanbase — has seen some backlash from fans for expressing "polarizing" viewpoints. Merely supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry 12 years ago was enough to trigger anger amongst a few fans. The group isn't known for delving into political issues in their lyrics too often, but they have said that the song "How Long Have You Been Stoned" ("Takin' out Daddy's trash now ain't it a drag/Trippin' on Papa's brand new body bag") from 2003's double-album Ohio was inspired by the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq.OTR never seemed to experience "Dixie Chicks-level" backlash (which nearly destroyed three musicians' careers); it's more similar to the recent hatred and disapproval aimed at Cincinnati natives The National, a globally successful Indie Rock band that angered some fans by campaigning for Barack Obama during the past two presidential elections. The worst (hopefully) that will ever happen in a case like that is the band might sell two or three less records and suffer insults on social media. For these artists and most like them, it's well worth the price. Following the recent shootings in Connecticut, Detweiler took to the internet to post an open letter to the National Rifle Association. Detweiler begins the post by writing, "I’m a songwriter, and my first calling is to process the world in the context of my songs. But I felt compelled to write the following, because it’s been on my mind. If you find it useful, please share."What follows is the open letter from Facebook which has been shared almost 400 times and "liked" nearly 1,000 times. The 200-plus comments are actually fairly civil even when there's disagreement (OTR has a smarter-than-your-average-bear following), though they're not without a few angry and rude missives (it IS the internet after all). In the end, Detweiler has added to the dialogue about a topic that for too long has seemingly been "off the table" due to the power of the NRA and some citizens' particular interpretations of the constitution. (The NRA, at least for now, seems to be self-aware enough this time around to not come out with an insensitive statement, instead echoing the President's call for "meaningful" discussion to help avoid future tragedies like the one last Friday.)As always, Detweiler is eloquent in his words. No matter what side of the issue you come down on, I highly recommend giving it a read. And if you feel the need to weigh in, here is the link to the original post. AN OPEN LETTER to the four million members of the National Rifle Association: Dear fellow citizen, The NRA released a statement yesterday on your behalf expressing that you all are “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the news of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Yes, we all are. For years you have willingly given your money to an organization that has largely ignored pleas from policemen across our country to limit access to assault weapons and armor piercing ammunition. You have spent countless millions of dollars silencing and vilifying voices that, while supportive of gun ownership, were calling for moderation in the distribution of weapons that could be used for mass destruction of human life, including the gun used by Friday’s killer that shot one first grader 11 times. And 19 other first grade children. And 6 adults in the space of a few minutes… When previous heartbroken victims of gun violence who lost children or spouses tried to speak out to hopefully help prevent others from suffering similar unspeakable loss, you rallied for your rights, and gave the suffering no quarter. For years you have marketed the idea to the citizens of this country that the US government is a potential enemy bent on harming its own citizens, and the only way we could all be safe was if we each purchased a private arsenal of weapons. While you are reportedly “shocked, saddened and heartbroken,” how many of your members after Friday’s shooting have changed their profile pictures to images of guns, or tweeted messages like “I’m buying a gun the day after Christmas. Join me! #NRAlifelongmember” How many of your members boasted last Friday that they were going to take their kids to a firing range? You continue to lobby in support of all of us carrying concealed weapons into schools, day care centers, movie theaters, and public squares. You argue that if only we could all walk around packing heat, our society could be safer and more peaceful. You lobby for wider “stand your ground” laws, so we can all load up and take the law into our own hands and play judge and jury (and God?) in the heat of the moment. The members among you who call themselves Christian often bemoan the fact that “God has been removed from our schools” and yet those very members ignore the direct teachings of Jesus as recorded in Scripture that call upon all followers of Christ to work to break the cycle of violence and not return evil for evil. Too many of us have stood by silently while you’ve played the part of the playground bully in our public discourse, and distorted our constitution for profit. While we as a nation have improved upon the vision of our “founding fathers” to end slavery in this country, to allow women the right to vote, and to outlaw hate crimes, you cling rigidly to a few words written when the right to bear arms referred to a single shot muzzle loading rifle. Your voice has been powerful and strident, and too many of us have remained silent in our disbelief of what we were hearing from you. Our silence has been deadly. If you are indeed “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” consider the part (if you are able and willing to join the rest of us in searching our souls) your organization has played when it comes to last Friday’s shooting. Consider the fear that your organization markets. Consider the bitter fruit of your labors that we must all taste. And please consider asking forgiveness, changing your ways, and offering whatever healing you are capable of to the hurting in Newtown, Connecticut, as opposed to condoning responding to violence with still ever more violence, ad nauseum. Unless you can do your part (along with the rest of us), and change in response to Friday’s tragedy, there will be still worse to come. I live on a small farm in Ohio, own two guns (and my own business) and have family members who are big game hunters. I am rethinking my responsibility as a citizen of this country. We all are. I invite you to do the same. You’re holding your big press conference tomorrow. We’ll be listening. But I am confident that many millions of us will no longer be silent. LJD
 
 

April 25-May 1: Worst Week Ever!

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Image consultants have reportedly urged Cincinnati to emulate larger, “awesome” cities by becoming more accommodating to skaters, bikers and users of other self-propelled modes of transportation. Otherwise, visitors who have seen the locally filmed 1993 rollerblading classic Airborne might be disappointed to find out that Cincinnati isn’t really the kind of place a cool kid from California would move and that Devil’s Backbone might not be real, either.  

Oct. 28-Nov. 3: Worst Week Ever!

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The American taxpayers were caught by surprise today when they learned that Ford Motor Co. earned $1 billion in the third quarter of this year. The sudden profitability of the seemingly inept automaker (the Ford Fusion? Seriously?) impressed industry analysts, who said such gains once seemed less likely than a Ford hybrid SUV or a woman sleeping with a dude who drives a Mustang and not getting herpes.  

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