Limbaugh:Freedom of Speech and Hate Speak

By Chris Cronin

Elm Staff Writer

Without a doubt, the biggest man in conservative radio is Rush Limbaugh. Since debuting in 1984, his show has become the modern model for conservative radio punditry, emulated by pundits like Glenn Beck and Michael Savage. Limbaugh has a long history of making inflammatory comments, such as claiming that Michael J. Fox was faking the effects of Parkinson’s disease in 2006, calling then-primary candidate Barack Obama “Barack the Magic Negro” and airing a song to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon” with the same title in 2007, and later the same year made comments which seemed to suggest that US soldiers who did not support the war in Iraq were “phony soldiers.” Pushing the boundaries of what is considered acceptable is a defining characteristic of shock jocks like Limbaugh, and he has been able to maintain relatively high ratings by tailoring his show to a politically extreme audience.

But Limbaugh has also been the source of personal controversy. He has been married four times, with his longest marriage lasting just 10 years. In 2003, he admitted to being addicted to Oxycodone, and was arrested and charged for “doctor shopping” to obtain prescriptions in 2006, although the charges were dropped after Limbaugh agreed to pay $30,000 and submit to random drug testing. That same year, Limbaugh was detained at Palm Beach International Airport after returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic and was found to be in the possession of prescription Viagra that was not in his name. In 1995, Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show that “drug use, some might say, is destroying this country… [drug users] ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”

But for all of his sordid history, in my opinion Limbaugh reached the lowest point in his entire career last week. During his radio show, Limbaugh referred to Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, who had recently tried to speak at a congressional hearing in support of mandating private insurance companies to fund birth control products for women. Here is an excerpt from Limbaugh’s radio show:

“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

The next day, Limbaugh added that “if we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Limbaugh issued a rare apology a few days later, stating that, “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

There’s nothing humorous about what Limbaugh said, and a simple change of words would not change his message: he was making a sexist, bigoted attack on a young woman attempting to respectfully enter the political discourse on a topic which she was passionate about. He was also wrong: private insurance companies wouldn’t use a dime of taxpayer money to fund contraception.

In 2007, shock jock Don Imus was unceremoniously fired for referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” It’s time Limbaugh’s employers followed suit. It’s time to take Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech off the air for good.

3 thoughts on “Limbaugh:Freedom of Speech and Hate Speak

  1. In an era where bullying is killing children and adults, this kind of unwarranted attack cannot be tolerated – from Rush or Heaton or anyone else.

    Where is tolerance? Or, if nothing else, manners? Aren’t those qualities part of what separates us from animals?

  2. …and do you have the same opinion of Bill Maher who called Sarah Palin a c@#$? The same Bill Maher who our “setting a good example” president accepted a $1 million dollar donation.

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