This post was originally going to be a snarkfest about how Fox News talking meatwad Todd Starnes wrote some dumbass article about country music like he knows something about the genre when he doesn’t, and how he needed to be called out about it, specifically by me. I started out by calling him out as someone who writes tediously and pedantically, someone who sounds like an uptight prig, and someone whose written attempts to affect the sound of jes’ plain ol’ country folks instead came off like Monty Python’s Graham Chapman impersonating an English housewife.

I recently received a rather urgent telephone call from my beloved Aunt Lynn, the church pianist down at the Methodist church in Mississippi.

“Todd, what in the name of Minnie Pearl is going on with country music,” she demanded to know. “The girls in our Bible study class think they’re going liberal.”

[…]

That poor lady sounds like she’s been Dixie-Chick-a-fied. Bless her heart.

It’s sad to say, but Ms. Musgraves is part of a new wave of liberal artists who are determined to change the culture and twang of country music.

It works either way, to be honest, but yes: Blah-de-blah-de-blah. The half-demented ramblings of any other Fox News dipshit who gets paid handsomely to be half-demented. The rest of it continues predictably, until Starnes writes the following:

And I’d also be willing to bet a gallon of sweet tea and a bucket of chicken that a good many country music fans go to church, own a gun and share the same beliefs as Gov. Huckabee. That’s why there are more country music songs about God and pickup trucks and honky-tonks instead of Chevy Volts and juice bars.

And they also own guns – lots of guns. So why in the world would Ms. Musgraves insult so many law-abiding, gun-toting fans?

Her profane diatribe was about as popular as somebody bringing a bucket of store-bought chicken to Wednesday night church supper.

Putting aside for a moment that Starnes’ entire premise—that country music is a “conservative” genre threatened by left wingers, a demonstrably untrue position-did he just say, days after 31 people were murdered in Dayton and El Paso, that Kacey Musgraves’ position on guns might drive a country music fan to shoot her? Barely TWO YEARS after country music fans were gunned down in Las Vegas? Did he just say that?

I’d like to be going on right now about how Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Margo Price, and many many more would give Starnes a swift kick in the ass for so misrepresenting their personal politics. Hell, Ralph Stanley cut ads for BARACK OBAMA. Or about how Starnes’ portrayal of country music fans as a bunch of hot-headed hillbillies popping off guns at anyone they disagree with is a bigoted and elitist caricature of the people he imagines he speaks for.

Instead, I have to go on about how a Fox News personality—someone with an audience of god knows how many people—is saying a public figure (and an outspoken young woman at that) could wind up on the wrong end of a gun because someone disagrees with her.

That’s not funny at all. It borders on threatening. We’ve seen too many times that words matter: the would-be pipe bomber specifically named Donald Trump as his motivation, the Knoxville church shooter specifically wanted to kill liberals, the El Paso shooter left a manifesto echoing Trump’s language.

Starnes—who’s been fired from several positions for false reporting—knows all this perfectly well. He thinks he’s being clever by including “law abiding” in what otherwise sounds like a not-so-veiled threat to Ms. Musgrave. But he’s not fooling anyone—a Fox News personality is going out of his way to tell a public figure to keep her mouth shut, lest someone blow a hole in her head. He’s not blowing a dogwhistle so much as he’s blaring a siren.

Maybe I missed the vote, but I don’t remember electing Todd Starnes as spokesman for country music or its diverse fans. This is still America, and Kacey Musgraves has every right to say what she wants, including about guns.

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