Five-time Grammy-winner Sir Elton John performed at the June 5 wedding of radio star Rush Limbaugh and Kathryn Rogers. Significant controversy surrounds the fact that the openly gay Sir Elton serenaded the openly conservative Limbaugh. But while this hubbub is as loud as one of Sir Elton’s 1970s 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 in the Ponce de Leon Ballroom at The Breakers, the sumptuous landmark hotel in Palm Beach. Sir Elton’s appearance reportedly earned him $1 million. Such fees routinely underwrite an excellent cause: the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
But the newlyweds had barely 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 June 7’s The View. Perhaps altruism explains why Behar reportedly co-hosts that ABC-TV show for at least $1.8 million annually and also bought a $2.55 million co-op on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in May 2008. Far nastier, Behar associated Limbaugh with some of the world’s worst and deadliest racists: “I wonder if it would be okay 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 Sir Elton 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 June 8’s 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.”
Sir Elton, 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, Sir Elton has been civil partners with David Furnish, 47.
Compared to today’s clamor, the whole world was napping as Sir Elton 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 Musicians’ Union. Al-Wasimi told Germany’s Deutsche Presse-Agentur news service that only his union is “authorized to allow performances by foreign singers in Egypt.” So he scotched the gig by Sir Elton, whom he called “a symbol of homosexuals in the world.” (For his part, Sir Elton 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?
“Yaaawwwn . . .”
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 five times as many. Respective Google hits are 139,000 and 705,000, also reflecting a five-to-one rage ratio.
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.
– Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.