Topic: Sports & Entertainment

Get a New Drum
(7/20/2004) 8/2/2004

Pre-emptive attacks are all the rage these days, so before the first wave of “I thought this country had a First Amendment right to free speech!” comments start pouring in from Whoopi Goldberg, Elton John and who knows who else, let’s get Linda Rondstadt’s outrageous behavior at the Aladdin Casino out of the way.

Rondstadt was hired to do what she does best…sing …at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas. Recalling her rich voice, sultry sty lings, and country/pop hits, Vegas visitors plunked down their money for tickets and were treated to an evening of rants and lectures on, you guessed it, the evils of George W. Bush, Republicans, and the Iraq War. By the time she dedicated her oldie “Desperado” to Michael Moore (I’m restraining myself here…) most of her audience had had enough. They stormed the box office seeking refunds, complained loudly, and were generally not in a good mood.

The management of the Aladdin fired Sweet Linda and ushered her, unrepentant, off the premises.


And the justice of her fate has nothing to do the legitimacy of her foreign policy critique. It doesn’t matter if her analysis of American military strategy would have made Douglas MacArthur stand and applaud; it doesn’t matter if her political acumen combined the erudition of George Will with the passion of John Edwards and the maverick courage of Dennis Kucinich. Nobody paid to hear Linda Rondstadt talk politics. They came to Vegas get away from that stuff, which is pretty much available on the TV around the clock, not to mention in the bars, on the campuses, on the internet, and in my dining room. Ronstadt’s conduct was arrogant, dishonest, irresponsible, unprofessional and inconsiderate, and there is no defense for it. Whoopi lost her job for Slim-Fast because she irritated potential customers with her off duty rants; this is as if Whoopi had started Bush-bashing during her commercials!

Somewhere in the pages of the Ethics Scoreboard, you will read tales of airline pilots lecturing captive passengers about their personal relationship with Jesus, and New York theaters dunning tourist patrons for contributions to AIDS research, not to mention pop stars unilaterally deciding to use televised sporting events to teach children in the viewing audience about the mysteries of the human anatomy. It’s about the same thing: a lack of consideration and respect for others.

Conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham recently wrote a book about Hollywood celebrities injecting themselves in American politics. I haven’t read it, but someone should send a copy to Linda. It’s called “Shut Up and Sing!”


Update: Media coverage of this story demonstrates how difficult it is to decide whether the media is biased, unethical, sloppy, or just dumb. About half the stories on-line and in print had headlines similar to this one from the Minnesota Star-Tribune: "Linda Rondstadt Kicked Off Stage for Praising Michael Moore Film." Now, this isn’t exactly wrong, but it certainly is misleading, as if Ronstadt is being punished for the content of her political views, rather than, as was the case, the manner and forum in which she chose to present them. Are the papers that sport such headlines really trying to promote the Elton John "it’s dangerous to criticize the government in America" conspiracy theory? Are they just victims of the limitations of the headline format? Or are they just too dense to realize that such headlines misrepresent what occurred? I suppose it is incumbent upon me to mention that "He Who Must Not be Named" (or saluted during Vegas hotel shows) has called the Aladdin’s actions "un-American," taking the interesting position that it is un-American to fire an entertainer who is provoking you patrons to throw drinks and demand refunds. Is this a great country or what?

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