State auditors usually have a low profile in Alabama. That's not the case with Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman. She's become an Internet celebrity because of a speech she gave about the war in Iraq.
It's been reprinted on dozens of Web sites, bringing her nearly 4,000 emails and letters.
The speech has received such wide distribution that another Beth Chapman, Nashville singer-songwriter Beth Neilsen Chapman, has updated her Web site to explain that she's NOT the politician Beth Chapman.
Alabama's Chapman was invited to speak at a support-the-troops rally a month ago in Shelby County, where she lives. She was going to be sharing the stage with Mark Bowen, the state's adjutant general, and Chief Justice Roy Moore, who's well known for his speaking ability.
The 41-year-old Chapman says she was a bit intimidated about speaking alongside Moore and Bowen, and she was unsure what to say until actors like Martin Sheen and George Clooney and entertainers like the Dixie Chicks and the Beastie Boys began making critical statements about the war and the president.
It got her steamed. And while angry, she wrote her entire speech in less than 30 minutes.
One passage that prompted long applause went like this: "If my memory serves me correctly, it was not movie stars or musicians, but the United States military who fought on the shores of Iwo Jima, the jungles of Vietnam, and the beaches of Normandy."
She went on to attack, "the liberal, tree-hugging, hippy, Birkenstock-wearing, tie-died liberals," saying they should "go make their movies and music and whine somewhere else."
"After all," she said, "if they lived in Iraq, they wouldn't be allowed the freedom of speech they're being given here today."
Ed Mullins, chairman of the journalism department at the University of Alabama and an expert on Web journalism, said Chapman's speech is an example of how the Web has become a powerful and inexpensive amplifier for people's messages.
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