While making an appearance on Fox News channel's Fox and Friends morning program country music legend Hank Williams Jr. criticized President Obama for his golf summit with House Speaker John Boehner this summer; “It would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli leader) Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Naturally the comment got picked up by the media and this afternoon ESPN announced that it would dropped Williams classic Monday Night Football open, "Are You Ready for Some Football" from the game broadcast.
ESPN released the following statement: “While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”
Naturally Hank Jr. fans are ticked off at ESPNs actions, lighting up comment sections on news stories about the move, many bemoaning the "death of free speech." Sorry, but ESPN, or any other media company outlet for that matter, doesn't control free speech and they have the right to yank Hank! Feel free to fire away, but first remember the Dixie Chicks. When lead Chick Natalie Maines blathered on about George W. Bush and country music stations yanked the trios music, liberals went berserk about free speech and censorship.
To be consistent, businesses can not censor, only governments can! Hank Jr. or the Dixie Chicks have the freedom to say what they want! And businesses and individual consumers have the same right to deliver consequences for those comments. Maines for all intents killed the Dixie Chicks career as a consequence of her comments. I doubt Williams will feel the same kind of impact, but ESPN certainly has the prerogative to exercise the actions it took.