In this July 29, 2018, photo, Illinois Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker talks with supporters in Geneva, Ill. New Illinois campaign reports show that Pritzker has pumped $146.5 million of his own money into his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
The Du Quoin State Fair is set to begin August 23rd in Du Quoin, Illinois. It’s an 11-day event complete with “rides, food, grandstand shows, free entertainment, harness races, motorsports, half-mile track, twilight parade, horse shows, livestock, cooking competitions, karaoke contest, home show events, and so much more….”
The Fair also features musical acts including, up until several days ago, the band “Confederate Railroad.” The country rock band was founded in 1987 in Marietta, GA, and has been associated with such notables as George Jones, Charlie Daniels, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Now, however, the band has been disinvited from the Fair. Per Yahoo:
Country rock band Confederate Railroad confirmed that it was dropped from the lineup at the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois because of its name.
The group’s founder and frontman Danny Shirley wrote in a statement on the band’s website on Tuesday that the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s decision was “very disappointing as we have played this fair before and enjoyed it very much.”
Following the cancellation, the Illinois Department of Agriculture released a statement:
“While every artist has a right to expression, we believe this decision is in the best interest of serving all the people of our state.”
Initially, though, the Department declined to confirm it was due to the band’s name. Then things got really interesting. As reported by CBS affiliate KFVS12, Illinois State Representative Terri Bryant detailed her efforts to investigate the cancellation on Facebook:
I have been trying to sort truth from fiction in the issue of entertainment decisions at our two State Fairs. I know…
In the post, Bryant describes her meeting with “two high-ranking members of [Illinois Governor J.B.] Pritzker’s Exec. Staff.” Per Bryant:
I was informed in no uncertain terms, that the decision to cancel CR was made by the Pritzker administration, including the two people sitting with me at the table.
They refused my insistence that Confederate Railroad be permitted to perform. Their reasoning was that they have a hard fast rule not to permit any use of the Confederate flag in any way. When I asked what their policy was pertaining to a sitting President being depicted in the way President Trump is depicted on Snoop Dogg’s album cover, they said, they had no such policy.
In fact, I was told by one of the Governor’s staffers that I should use this case as a “teachable moment” for the people of Southern Illinois. I am serious…that is what the staffer said.
In short, the Pritzker administration canceled Confederate Railroad because the Confederate flag offends many people.
They refused to cancel Snoop Dogg even though it offends many people. I believe in very limited government censorship. I believe even less in double standards.
If you’re like me, this sentence made you do a double-take: “I was told by one of the Governor’s staffers that I should use this case as a “teachable moment” for the people of Southern Illinois.” I wrote about the divide between Illinois’ power centers and downstate last fall. Since that time, Pritzker was elected Governor and has signed into law a series of measures that can fairly be described as progressive (and not in line with the sensibilities of many downstate residents), including a significant gas tax hike (doubled) and broad abortion protections, among others. There have been increasing rumblings, in fact, of a separation between red and blue Illinois:
There’s a civil war of sorts under way in Illinois – pitting Chicago against much of the rest of the state. This dispute is one of politics and policy and it has even led to a resolution being filed by a group of Republicans that would split Illinois into two separate states.
While this prospect may not be reaching critical mass anytime soon, my guess is referring to this decision — which one might reasonably debate — as a “teachable moment” for “the people of Southern Illinois” isn’t likely to help in that regard. All it does is further serve to highlight the attitudinal divide.
Condescension really isn’t a pretty look. Neither is viewpoint discrimination.
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