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Commentary :: Politics
The Real Desperado
27 Jul 2004
At the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas, conservative actions spoke louder than their "compassionate" words ever could...
Now that the dust has settled and the spilled drinks have been mopped up, one gets a clearer picture of just what happened the night Linda Ronstadt broke out the 'M-word' during a performance at the bankrupt Aladdin hotel and casino in Las Vegas. It was a night of unchecked conservative lawlessness that nearly created a riot, ultimately culminating in a disturbing alienation of one woman's God-given liberties as they were outlined by the Founding Fathers in the Bill of Rights.

Of all the adjectives that could be attached to the behavior of right-wing patrons and management, the most adhesive one would have to be "typical". Just as moral platitude-writers will argue until blue that children are influenced by the violence to which they are exposed in popular culture, it is apparent that rudeness among conservatives is a natural manifestation of exposure to talk-radio.

In that coarse and amateur-driven media (what exactly is Rush Limbaugh an expert on, other than divorce, draft-dodging and doctor-shopping?), nothing revs up the audience like a good zinger thrown at some poor liberal, set up by the call screener like so many bowling pins. That's why Michael Moore's movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, so offends most Republicans - the majority of whom say they haven't seen it and don't intend to. Like so many other playground bullies in the world, loudmouth conservatives love to dish it out, but don't seem too receptive to taking it.

This was the spark for the baboonish exhibit at the Aladdin during Ms. Ronstadt's performance. The mere mention of Moore's movie (as a preamble to the popular ballad "Desperado") was enough to send many in the audience into a fit of pique that approached a level usually reserved for European soccer hooligans. The marvel of this immaturity is that it was praised across the board by fellow supporters of the GOP; not only did they lose their taste for civility that night, they are - like Dick Cheney and his fondness for obscenity - proud of their actions.

Lusty booing was obviously not going to be sufficient to vent the frustrations these people (I'm being very generous here) must feel as their messianic figurehead of a president slides down the chute into political irrelevancy. Some of the 4,500 in attendance had to go further. Concert posters were torn off the walls. Cocktails were reportedly hurled into the air. The exits were stormed. Let's see... that would amount to disturbing the peace and destruction of private property, not to mention conspiracy to incite a riot, which might be construed by one tight-lipped Attorney General as a form of domestic terrorism.

Those were the small crimes that took place at the casino. The big stuff, the stuff of which civil-rights lawsuits are made, was reserved for the management of the Aladdin. An anonymous hotel official told the press, "The Company decided to remove her from the property after she dedicated a song to Michael Moore. This angered our guests who spilled their drinks and demanded their money back."

According to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Ms. Ronstadt had a reasonable expectation that her personal effects and papers would not be seized from the room in which she was staying. The casino's actions clearly amounted to an unlawful seizure of her property. It makes no difference what they did with her belongings, or how long they were in their possession - the law was broken. But the Aladdin had already shown a wanton disregard for the law in allowing its patrons to behave in a manner that brushed up against violence.

The casino attempted to explain without accepting a wit of responsibility. "Ms. Ronstadt was hired to entertain the guests of the Aladdin, not to espouse political views," goes the official statement. The president of the casino, a British fellow (no wonder) named Bill Timmins, promised: "As long as I'm here, she's not going to play."

Entertainers have blended politics with performance art since the days of Shakespeare. In American entertainment, we have seen this from Vaudeville to Lenny Bruce, from John Lee Hooker to Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen, and so the casino's position is untenable. Had Ronstadt been someone else, and had she praised Bush's war in Iraq, that might have also offended a good deal of the audience; would Timmins and his band of rights-violators have expelled, say, a Christian rocker from the hotel?

This is the mindset against which America struggles in this election cycle. No dissent can be tolerated when it comes to Republican rule, and that speaks volumes about the quality of their governance in a nation that is supposed to be based upon laws that protect our liberties. The Bush administration and its fervent supporters routinely display a paucity of knowledge in such matters. It should not go unnoticed.
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Re: The Real Desperado
27 Jul 2004
Ah ... that's the story.

I was on Dead tour and out of contact with the "news". On Sunday night, the Dead came out and started there second set by saying the next song was dedicated to Linda Ronstadt. Then they kicked into "Desperado".

Different crowd .... everyone cheered!

Oh, and the register to vote booths all had lines.
Re: The Real Desperado
21 Sep 2004
Unlike this article, I will address the true issues without resorting to political affiliations, which I proudly do not possess.

Where do I begin? I guess, with the forum. Linda was performing to a paying audience who expected to hear her sing, not make political rants. The crowd's behavior was obnoxious and beyond reproach, of course, but could be expected from her core audience about which she obviously kows little. Her comments should have been reserved for some politcal event or commentary, such as attending a rally or being asked her opinion. A paying audience is not the appropriate venue for her comments - I certainly would not expect that from an act I went to see.

The crowd's reaction is not a First Amendment violation as that Amendment (as do all of them) apply only to governments. If, as stated in the article, Linda has the right to her opinions in that setting so does everyone in the crowd. See the downward logic spiral this places us in? First Amendment speech is only protected in particular "public forums," and a private show with paying audience members seeing a paid performer is not a "public forum" contemplated by the First Amendment. She needed to play her music and keep her opinions to herself, or suffer the concomittant reaction.

Finally, Linda has no Fourth Amendment rights regarding the management of the Aladin Hotel. The Fourth Amendment applies only to the government, no private citizens. That is why we also have Title VII, to ensure fairness among the populace where government is not present. A hotel (or restaurant, or almost any business) can refuse service to anyone provided they do not violate Title VII. The Aladin did not violate Title VII. In fact, they have the additional right to sue Linda for breach of contract regarding her performance, which they are pursuing. If there was some really pressing civil liberties question here the ACLU would be involved immediately, even if it was a losing issue. They are not.