Bitten By A Tiger: Huckabee Must Pay For Unauthorized Use Of Song
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jun 29, 2016 at 09:03:44 AM EST

Former Arkansas governor and Religious Right favorite Mike Huckabee has not been having a good year.

Huckabee won the Iowa GOP caucus in 2008 and hoped to repeat that magic in 2016. But he ended up struggling for attention in a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates.

In an effort to gin up his far-right evangelical base, Huckabee traveled to Kentucky in September of 2015 for a campaign rally with Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County who became a folk hero to the Religious Right after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

During the rally, Davis took the stage as the song "Eye of the Tiger," a number-one hit from 1982 by the band Survivor, blared over loudspeakers. The song, which served as the theme for "Rocky III," has become an anthem for underdogs everywhere.

The chorus goes: "It's the eye of the tiger/It's the thrill of the fight/Risin' up to the challenge/Of our rival/And the last known survivor/Stalks his prey in the night/And he's watching us all with the/Eye of the tiger."

There was a slight problem, however: No one in Huckabee's campaign thought to ask the members of Survivor for permission to use the song. Frankie Sullivan, the guitarist for the band and co-author of "Eye of the Tiger," wasn't pleased and made that known.

Huckabee decided on an unusual defense: His appearance with Davis, Huckabee's attorneys argued, wasn't really a campaign event, it was a "religious assembly" - so you see, Huckabee had a right under the First Amendment to use the song!

Nice try. Rude Music, the firm that owns the copyright for "Eye of the Tiger," sued. An attorney for Rude Music pointed out that Huckabee had clearly listed the Davis rally as a campaign event.

The media certainly treated it that way. Davis, who had been in jail for her defiance, emerged to a cheering crowd. Serving as emcee of the event, Huckabee crowed, "If somebody needs to go to jail, I'm willing to go in her place!" Other GOP candidates were frozen out of the rally. Huckabee wanted Davis - and the limelight - all to himself.

The lawsuit over the use of the song was settled out of court. It recently came to light that Huckabee had to pony up $25,000.

And now for the coda: The Iowa caucuses were held on Feb. 1, 2016. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the winner with 27.6 percent. Donald Trump came in second with 24.3 percent. Huckabee captured a pathetic 1.8 percent of the vote. The next day, he dropped out of the race.

As for Davis, she has of late been trying to claim victory in her strange case, but the fact is, same-sex couples in Rowan County are being given wedding licenses and are getting married. Davis and her allies may try to spin it differently, but so far she has lost.

In a way, it's ironic that Huckabee and Davis tried to co-opt that old rock anthem. "Eye of the Tiger" speaks of a heroic underdog who "Had the guts, got the glory" and "Went the distance."

That hardly describes a pair of fundamentalist zealots who sought the power to use their rigid religion as a vehicle to discriminate against others and deny them their legal rights.





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