Former Democratic Congressman Ben Jones
, who played "Cooter" on the hit television show "The Dukes of Hazzard
," has released a statement regarding an incident involving the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Jones calls the situation "a dangerous affront to the rights of performing artists and their audiences, and the worst example of political correctness I've ever heard of."
According to Jones, the Cincinnati Pops was pressured to cancel a July 14, 2007 performance by singers John Schneider
and Tom Wopat
because of their connection with "The Dukes of Hazzard." Jones and Schneider were both told that the cancellation came after members of the Cincinnati community complained that the popular and perennial family show has "racist overtones." Both Schneider and Wopat have appeared previously with the Cincinnati Pops.
"I wish I was making this up," said Jones. "But, unfortunately it is true. It is bizarre. One reason our show is loved by folks of all colors all over the world is that racism is non-existent in Hazzard County. It is an innocent show where the good guys always win and nobody gets hurt, and brotherhood is a natural thing there. What could these politically correct vigilantes possibly be thinking?"
Jones says that the NAACP apparently put its imprimatur on the cancellation. "I'm a life member of the NAACP and proud of it. But I'm not proud of this. Denying an artist an opportunity to entertain an audience because of somebody's wrongheaded political viewpoint is just plain un-American. I have fought for equal rights all of my life, and that is why I am speaking out on this."
In the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, Jones was arrested several times attempting to integrate segregated facilities. He says he was shot at by the KKK, had a tooth knocked out by a Klansman, and had ammonia thrown in his eyes at a sit-in.
"In my opinion, there are two important issues here," he says. "First of all, the original Dukes of Hazzard is a wonderfully benign show, one that is beloved by kids of all ages. My grandchildren love it. If some elitist wants to think otherwise, fine. I think that would be wrong-headed, but that is their right. But to go further and basically blacklist an
artist because of a past association with that show is beyond the pale. I'm just trying to get the word out. I've done a lot of "Dukes' things for almost thirty years, and I've met legions of black folks who love the show and its values."
Jones says he "believes the goodhearted people in Cincinnati of all ages, types, and complexions will see the folly of this kind of precedent."
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