Rush to Judgement
I do not think for a minute that "Rush to Judgement" is the only time anyone has used such a term to headline an article about Rush Limbaugh. I predict it will also not be the last time. The point of my view today is maybe it should. Here's a poem I wrote years ago that has nothing to do with Rush, but then again, maybe it does.
A Sad Romantic View
You know how when you have a newborn and for the first few days, weeks and months of that baby's life you are on alert and jump, heart skipping, at every peep you hear, imagined or not. Gradually, you arrive at a sort of peace where you know what certain cries mean and you realize you have to just let the baby wail so that the infant and you can learn to adapt, grow and live harmoniously together (until they become teenagers, but that's a whole other story). In other words, you have to let the child know that even though he may have moves like Jagger you can't always get what you want every time you throw a tantrum. Are you beginning to follow me here? Sometimes you have to "ignore" the tirade. Only then does the infant begin to modify their behavior and learn how to act in a civilized society.
Rush Limbaugh is hardly ever ignored. Somewhere, somehow, people—those you may even know—love Rush Limbaugh. 350 Million Dollars. As of this writing, his behavior has netted him a huge following and $350,000,000 in the bank according to CelebrityWealth.com. True, he may be one of the most hated men in America from one side of the political spectrum, but make no mistake, it is that hate primarily that has made him financially secure for the rest of his ornery life. Am I suggesting for one second that RL or those who emit like him should be given a pass? NO. NO. NO. Not completely. I believe, though, that what brought RL to apologize for his latest statements was not the outraged cries of his enemies, but the shocked, you've crossed the line, actions of his friends. Friends who spoke out and in doing so gave the tacit okay for many of Limbaugh's friendly sponsors to withhold some hefty checks. Again, you get the point. This is what it took because in the history of political intercourse we have wanted our leaders to let the other side have it now and then. Against our calmer judgement, a large portion of us listen, annoyed, but irresistibly magnetized to the outrageous insults, accusations and outright lies our legislative leaders and media pundits publish daily, especially during campaign seasons. It has always been this way. It has always been this bad. The difference now is that technology allows all this stuff to travel faster and wider than it did in the times of Jefferson, Lincoln or Kennedy. Twenty-first Century technology has opened up the American Dream to an influx of new "titans" vying to be the next Pulitzer, Hearst or Menkens of our grandparents' days.
Today's editorialists, reporters and candidates continue promoting, at a more accelerated rate of communication, the same highly charged, marginally confirmed or truthful, statements that have been the norm since our forefathers first embraced political lives. The 1800 presidential battle between John Adams and his then Vice President, Thomas Jefferson apparently started the ball rolling with Jefferson labeling the incumbent commander in chief a "hypocrite," a "tyrant" and "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman," while the then VP was declared "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." (Founding Fathers' dirty campaign) The 1828 election between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson features allegations of adultery and military murder against Jackson and elitism (sound familiar?) and prostitution against Adams. (The Election of 1828 Was Marked By Dirty Tactics)
The webpage h2g2.com features the article, "Lies, Damned Lies and American Politics - Smear and Slander Through US Political History," from June 2008 outlining a series of political slanders through the years which, in short, lay out the thesis as clearly as I ever could. Political slander and over the top media rhetoric is neither new nor worse than it has previously been. Whether we appreciate it or not, it is very likely to continue. Can anyone pragmatically believe that anyone who earns over $40 million dollars from being a shock jock is going to stop when they have more toys to buy? Sticks and Stones may break some bones, but it is earning millions for the Imuses and Limbaughs of the world.
Years ago, a prominent politician correctly labeled Mr. Limbaugh an "entertainer," not worth the public's concern or disdain. Unfortunately, he recanted that statement due to the outrage of RL's fans. Of course, however, he was right. Do any of us actually know if Limbaugh believes the statements he continues to make? Can we agree, at least, that at hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop that he's not going to stop? So as you might choose with any entertainment item you don't enjoy, what do you do? You change the channel. When the ratings drop enough the program will be cancelled and it will go off the air. All I'm saying is think about it.
Until then, those that excel in the arena of EFS (Extreme Freedom of Speech) will be rewarded with unconscionable amounts of wealth and power. How we find peace with such an incendiary state of affairs played out daily and highlighted every four years by our most public figures is up to us. It's not easy, but instead of allowing the veins in your brain to boil, I suggest reciting the Serenity prayer...
Breathe in those words and imagine walking up to a Rush Limbaugh, directly after one of his intentionally explosive pronouncements, laughing softly, and saying, "Mr. Limbaugh, you're funny" and walking away. There wouldn't be enough blue pills in the world to make him potent again.
Chris Haley - 3/15/2012 9:46 PM
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