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Local News

Assembly Speaker Weighs in to Defend Country Singer Jason Aldean

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by Baylor Spears, Wisconsin Examiner
July 24, 2023

Wisconsin’s top Republican displayed his support over the weekend for country singer Jason Aldean, who has been criticized for glorifying racist ideas and gun violence in a recent song, “Try That In A Small Town.” 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) tweeted an image ahead of Aldean’s performance on Saturday that stated “I proudly stand with Jason Aldean” and included the title of Aldean’s song at the bottom. Aldean was the headline performance at the Country Thunder music festival in Kenosha County, which also came under criticism after a TMJ4 reporter was called a racial slur on opening day.

pic.twitter.com/TrydpmcYUZ

— Robin Vos (@repvos) July 22, 2023

“Cuss out a cop, spit in his face. Stomp on the flag and light it up. Yeah, ya think you’re tough,’ Aldean sings in the song. “Well, try that in a small town. See how far ya make it down the road.” 

Aldean sings in another verse “Got a gun that my granddad gave me They say one day they’re gonna round up/ Well, that s – – –  might fly in the city, good luck.”

Vos hasn’t commented further on the issue, though he retweeted related posts on Saturday. One post from Wisconsin Right Now said that the song had nothing to do with lynching. The other post, which comes with a context warning, linked to a fictional article claiming that country artist Blake Shelton had dropped out of a $30 million deal with CMT in support of Aldean published by the Dunning-Kruger Times, a satire website.

The music video for the song was filmed at a courthouse in Tennessee, where an 18-year-old Black man was attacked and lynched about a century ago. The video, which Country Music Television stopped airing after accusations that it was offensive, included violent news footage of looting and unrest during protests in American cities.

Aldean first defended the song in a tweet, saying “In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.” He doubled down on his defense of the song at the festival in Twin Lakes and thanked those that have supported him.

In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.…

— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) July 18, 2023

“I want to make something very clear. I’ve been called a lot of things this week, been called a racist. I’ve been called all kinds of stuff. I just want to make it very clear. When I look at that video I see all kinds of people doing dumb s – – – .” Aldean said during his Saturday night performance. The crowd cheered “USA” as he spoke. 

“You guys know what I’m about. I’ve never shied away from my beliefs, what I think about politics or any of those things,” Aldean continued before performing the song. “Thank you guys for seeing through the bulls – – – this week, supporting it like you did and calling everybody out.” 

Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: info@wisconsinexaminer.com. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.