Tom Petty made a career out of rock and roll, but he never gave in to the easy way of doing things. He insisted on properly pricing his albums and he has always been about songs and characters and the art of American rock and roll.
It could have been easy for Petty to wave around the Confederate Flag--twenty years ago, no one would have noticed or complained. We were a lot more blase about such displays back then. So when you learn that, back in day, Petty refused to allow it to be displayed at his shows after foolishly adorning the stage with it to illustrate a character in a song, you have to admire his social conscience and his decision to risk the backlash.
Not everybody would have taken the road Petty has been on for so long, but you have to praise him for thinking about the implications and doing the right thing, especially when it wasn't fashionable or expected.