Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
By Steve Fair
The Flaming Lips is an Oklahoma rock band formed in 1983 in Norman, Oklahoma. The band is known for their psychedelic arrangements, weird song tiles and elaborate live shows. One of their albums is entitled, “Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles.” To call them “mainstream” would be a quantam leap. The Flaming Lips won an online vote organized by the Official Oklahoma Rock Song Advisory Panel with the song "Do You Realize?"

But the planned legislative resolution honoring that song was defeated when conservative Republicans expressed outrage at a t-shirt bass player Michael Ivins worn to the Capitol when it was announced their song had won. The t-shirt had the symbol of the former communist Soviet Union- the sickle and hammer on it. If he had worn this same t-shirt to school as a kid, he would have been sent home.
Representative Corey Holland, R-Marlow took offense at that. Holland said "I felt that the consequences of that were that I would not be able to support that as our state song," State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R) opposed the resolution because he recalled the band using profanity several years ago after the legislature named an alley after the group. In fact, the front man for the band used the “F” word repeatedly during his acceptance speech in downtown OKC.
The whole rock song controversy got started when State Representative Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs and State Senator Mike Schultz, R, Altus, authored Joint Resolution #1047 last legislative session establishing the voting criterion for selection of the “official” state rock tune. After polling fortune 500 companies as to why they were not considering the Sooner state, it was determined one of the primary reasons was because Oklahoma did not have an “official” rock song. I’m sure glad we got that impediment to recruiting commerce and industry cleared up. Dorman is the author of such meaningful legislation like THE WATERMELON IS OKLAHOMA'S OFFICIAL VEGETABLE and forcing cigarette companies to market smokeless cigs, so his involvement is not unexpected. Since only two other states in the country have “official” rock songs, it's obvious this was not a pressing matter for the legislature to take up.

The other finalists for Oklahoma “rock” song included “Heartbreak Hotel,” co-written by
Oklahoma school teacher Mae Boren Axton and recorded by Elvis Presley; “Let’s Have a Party,” recorded by Oklahoman Wanda Jackson; “Walk, Don’t Run,” recorded by the Ventures, which included Oklahoman Nokie Edwards; “After Midnight,” written and recorded by Oklahoman J.J. Cale and re-released by Eric Clapton; “Never Been to Spain,” by Oklahoman Hoyt Axton and made famous by Three Dog Night; “Home Sweet Oklahoma,” written and recorded by Oklahoman Leon Russell; “Oklahoma,” by the Call, which included Oklahomans Michael Been and Scott Musick; “Move Along,” by Oklahoma band the All-American Rejects; and “Endless Oklahoma Sky,” by John Moreland and the Black Gold Band, also from Oklahoma. The unexpected winner was the tune by the Flaming Lips, but the vote was taken online, so it was far from being scientific.

After the State House voted down the resolution, Governor Brad "Blackjack" Henry stepped in to resolve the situation. He plans to sign an executive order sanctifying the song as the state's official rock anthem. “The music of the Flaming Lips has earned Grammys, glowing critical acclaim and fans all over the world," Henry said in a statement. "A truly iconic rock n' roll band, they are proud ambassadors of their home state."

It’s one thing for The Flaming Lips to enhance their wholesome image onstage at a rock concert, by promoting communism and dropping the “F” bomb, but quite another in the “peoples” house. To require those who are honored by the state legislature to show some respect and class is not be too much to ask- even of a psychedelic rock band.

Amazingly, the once conservative icon, The Oklahoman took a shot at what they called “the conservative house” in an April 27th editorial. “This is par for the course in the conservative House, which seems intent on taking aim at diversity of thought, science, politics, and about anything that doesn’t conform to its narrow view of what Oklahoma ought to be,” The Oklahoman stated in the editorial, entitled House of Cards. They concluded the conservative legislators that opposed the resolution were “backward hicks.” What has happened to The Oklahoman? The paper has become more and more "progressive" and very critical of conservative principles. By the way, Webster defines a “hick” as someone who is “provincial or unsophisticated.” It can also refer to someone from a “rural” area.

It is unsophisticated to imply there is NO unacceptable behavior in the “people’s” house! To justify misbehavior by defending it in print or signing an executive order is selling out to political correctness- the very thing that is destroying our country. Thankfully, we still have some “hicks” with some moral values and convictions representing us in the legislature.
Tempest in a teapot? Sure, but the actions of the Governor and The Oklahoman reveal deep divides and disconnects between the average Oklahoman and the more "sophisticated" in our state.
Now it seems the front man for The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne, said those that voted against the resolution were "small minded religious wackos." Obviously, there is no standard for misbehavior by this group. Mark Shannon wrote a very insightful commentary on this issue. You can access it at:

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