Linda Ronstadt dedicated a song to Michael Moore and his film "Fahrenheit 9/11" and got the boot from the Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. They treated her shabbily, escorting her out of the building without allowing her to return to her room.
This came after some members of the audience booed and walked out of her show. If I had been a member of the audience, I might also have walked out, though I wouldn't have booed the lady. When one pays a hefty charge to be entertained, one has a right not to get a political lecture, regardless of its content.
Entertainers, being human beings and citizens, have the same right to express their political beliefs as anyone else. But the forum should be appropriate. Audiences who pay to hear a singer rightfully expect to hear songs, not political talks. So Ronstadt abused her audience, some of the audience members were rude to her, and she was in turn abused by the management of the hotel.
As for Moore's film, I finally saw a pirated copy of it. People should see it and decide for themselves what they think of it. I will say only this in Moore's defense: He doesn't hide his opinions; therefore, the audience is on notice. Most documentaries are equally slanted and propagandistic, but they hide behind a fašade of objectivity, and that is far worse than what Moore does. You know going in that Moore is against Bush and against the war in Iraq.
Come to think of it, so am I, but for different reasons. Having had to suffer through the suits and countersuits related to the last presidential election in Florida, I don't share the notion that Bush stole the election. I'm against Bush because he misled the American people into a war and because of the stupidity and ineptness with which the aftermath of the war has been conducted.
Bush will never win his war on terrorism using only the military option, which is all he has, and, if he is re-elected, he might well destroy the America we all love in the process. A free society and a war state are incompatible. American foreign policy fuels the terrorists, and unless our policies are modified, the war will go on for literally decades. Bush shows no signs at all of re-examining our policies and, in fact, shows a scary ignorance of the rest of the world, most especially the Muslim world.
Not only is our own government becoming ever more secretive and slip-sliding toward authoritarianism, but the American people, whipsawed by demagogues and fearmongers, are becoming dangerously intolerant of people with different political ideas.
More than one wise person has said that those who are willing to swap freedom for security deserve and will get neither. It is always pointless to fight if in the process we destroy what we think we are defending.
To say, as the Bush administration has said, that you can't prosecute, convict and punish terrorists using our judicial system and observing the Constitution is to express a profound lack of faith in America and a sickening disrespect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If we can put Al Capone and others of his ilk behind bars using our constitutional process, we can certainly do the same to terrorists. We must never allow the government to destroy freedom in the name of protecting it.
As for tolerance, be careful about tossing it away. We've always had disagreements and debates, even passionate debates. That is the essence of a free society. When disagreement turns to hatred, however, we leave America and move into the dark territory that makes so many countries chaotic and unlivable. Hate not only produces reciprocal hate, but destroys the hater as well. It can darn sure destroy a free society.
July 27, 2004
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.