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controversy (though the number actually represents about 2% of ticket sales, it is
still a larger than normal number of such requests).
However, this incident quickly sparked further calls for action against Ronstadt
and other performers who spoke out about the war in Iraq. Critics saw the song
dedication as just another example of liberal entertainers using their celebrity to
create a soap box for their political views. Those opposing felt that action needed
to be taken.
Several grassroots organizations, such as Citizens Against Celebrity Pundits
and Boycott Hollywood, felt the removal of Ronstadt wasn't enough, and launched
efforts to further censor the singer and dismiss her political statements. These
groups started boycott and censorship campaigns, as well as letter writing drives
to have prominent entertainment stars muzzled and/or removed from their
jobs.
More than 80 newspaper editorials were written; some were in favor of
Ronstadt, while others condemned her statement and supported the actions of the
Aladdin staff. One editorial stated, "Ronstadt had the right to say what she said,
but face it: Celebrities have to reach a rarefied level of presumptive arrogance to
make this leap of flawed logic: `If people like me on stage, surely they'll want to
hear what I have to say about politics.'"
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Two weeks later, on July 29
th
, singer Don Henley was performing in the Los
Angeles area. He was loudly booed when he mentioned he was friends with
Ronstadt. According to the Orange County Register, Henley responded to the boos
by saying: "We used to be able to have a civil debate in this country. Not
anymore."
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Michael Moore himself addressed the controversy in an open letter to Timmins.
He wrote: "Last time I checked, Las Vegas is still in the United States. And in the
United States, we have something called the First Amendment . This constitutional
right gives everyone here the right to say whatever they want to say...For you to
throw Linda Ronstadt off the premises because she dared to say a few words in
support of me and my film, is simply stupid and un-American. Frankly, I have
never heard of such a thing happening."
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Moore further offered to come to
Aladdin and sing "America the Beautiful" with Ronstadt if they would allow her
back.
Timmins justified his action by saying it was wrong for Ronstadt to bring her
political agenda to the stage. "We live in a city where people come from all over
the world to be entertained," he said. "We hired Ms. Ronstadt as an entertainer,
not as a political activist. Whether you are politically on the left or on the right is