Act stirs ire
Five-time Grammy-winner Sir Elton John performed at the wedding of radio star Rush Limbaugh and Kathryn Rogers last Saturday. Significant controversy surrounds the fact that the openly gay John serenaded the openly conservative Limbaugh. But whil...
Five-time Grammy-winner Sir Elton John performed at the wedding of radio star Rush Limbaugh and Kathryn Rogers last Saturday. Significant controversy surrounds the fact that the openly gay John serenaded the openly conservative Limbaugh. But while this hubbub is as loud as one of John's 1970's rock-and-roll anthems, a "Tiny Dancer"-like hush greeted his recent adventure in Islamofascist homophobia.
The thrice-divorced Limbaugh, 59, married Kathryn Rogers, 33, before 400 guests at The Breakers, the sumptuous landmark hotel in Palm Beach, Fla. John's appearance reportedly earned him $1 million. Such fees routinely underwrite an excellent cause: The Elton John AIDS Foundation.
But the newlyweds barely had begun honeymooning before the hue and cry erupted:
- "WTF, dude!? Why would you do this!?" demanded Internet commentator Zachary Wilson.
- "Do CDs expel toxic fumes if you burn them in your chimney?" wondered an Advocate.com reader named Ozzy. "This coming winter, I have a few Elton CDs that I might use to keep my home warm."
- "Elton's just a whore," the Village Voice's Michael Musto told MSNBC.
- "We're experiencing greed, a lot of greed, and people doing things for money," Joy Behar noted on Monday's "The View." Perhaps altruism explains why Behar reportedly co-hosts that ABC-TV show for at least $1.8 million annually. Far nastier, Behar associated Limbaugh with some of Earth's worst and deadliest racists: "I wonder if it would be OK with everybody if Elton or somebody had gone down to perform during apartheid South Africa, you know, or the Ku Klux Klan, if they had a lot of money."
That's right. Rush "Lynchbaugh" might as well be Grand Wizard of the KKK. And John probably opened with "KroKodile RocK."
Yes, Limbaugh opposes same-sex marriage and has said obnoxious things about gay people. "When a gay person turns his back to you," he once remarked, "it isn't an insult. It's an invitation."
However, "On some social issues, like abortion, Limbaugh is a conventional conservative," Zev Chafets, author of Limbaugh biography "An Army of One," argued in Tuesday on WSJ.com. "On others, he sounds a lot like Barack Obama. In an interview last summer, he told me that he regards homosexuality as most likely determined by biology, considers other people's sex lives to be none of his business, and supports gay civil unions."
John, 63, also favors civil unions rather than gay nuptials. "Heterosexual people get married," he told USA Today in November 2008. "We can have civil partnerships." Since 2005, John has been civil partners with David Furnish, 47.
Compared to today's clamor, the world was napping as John faced not a seven-figure check, but rejection when the Tony Award winner tried to play a private May 18 concert in Egypt.
"How do we allow a homosexual, who wants to ban religions, claimed that the prophet Issa (Jesus) was gay, and calls for Middle Eastern countries to allow gays to have sexual freedom?" huffed Mounir al-Wasimi, boss of the Egyptian Musician Union. He then scotched the gig by John, whom he called "a symbol of homosexuals in the world." (For his part, John told Parade Magazine last February: "Try being a gay woman in the Middle East. You're as good as dead.")
What response did this outrage trigger?
Contrast the publicity these two situations generated. During the first week of the Cairo incident, the words "Elton John," "Egypt," and "concert" yielded just 18 mentions in Nexis's news database. Meanwhile, during the equivalent period, "Elton John" and "Limbaugh" produced 87 references, or roughly quintuple the quarrel. Respective Google hits are 139,000 and 705,000, also reflecting a five-to-one rage ratio between these two events.
The moral of this story? Liberals will tread more lightly on a homophobic, concert-canceling Islamic fundamentalist than a conservative broadcaster who recognizes and rewards talent when he hears it, even when that Academy Award-winning musician happens to be gay.
-- Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com .