I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, don't watch him either, except when someone on TV shows a clip of his latest offensive broadcast. I don't listen or watch his shows because I find his views, how he expresses them, and his targeting of people and ideas repulsive, disgusting, and alarming in their vitriol and destructive potential.
I've thought about why he might be so popular, even with people who I've thought honorable and insightful, wondered why they don't see how damaging his distortions, attacks, and disparagements are not only to his intended victims, but to his listeners and viewers as well.
His standard defense, and one others repeat, is it's just entertainment. Yes, I suppose it is, like bloodlessly setting the lions upon the Christians, or the gladiators. And no animals were killed, no Christians or gladiators slaughtered. Only reputations, careers, and lives damaged by the attacks and lies.
No, that's not all. People who listen to him are also affected by frequenting his rant ridden programs. Their ability to look at issues objectively is affected. Politicians know this. They rightfully fear him, just as they fear powerful television preachers who can deliver or deny them millions of votes.
I have mixed opinions about what is the best choice in the present movement to get Rush off the air, given energy by his sustained trashing of a female law student who bravely testified in a senate/congressional hearing concerning providing insurance coverage for contraceptives for women.
I say bravely, because I know something about being "the other" in a male dominated, hostile toward females, audience. Limbaugh specializes in identifying people his followers are to consider outsiders,"the other."
When I say "the other" I'm identifying that gut fear of the dangerous outlander, the stranger, the thief in the night, the marauder, the saboteur, the kidnapper, the home invader, the spy, the robber that all people instinctively fear. It's part of our human protective shield, to fear the possibly dangerous elements that are outside the perimeters of safety.
By putting people in a "the other" category we objectify them, make it less important to view them as fully human, perhaps make it impossible to view them as "like us," and thus they become undeserving of full consideration, protection, and equal rights or even survival. In war time, governments go to great lengths to objectify opponents. Instead of someone's dear son or daughter, mother or father, who has done no harm to us, they become "Japs, Gooks, Krauts." Easier to bomb or bayonet someone who has been successfully objectified.
Minorities are routinely objectified by the use of derisive labels like "polocks, jews, beaners, greasers, micks, niggers, geezers, rag heads, spicks, and injins." Women, being the largest minority in the world, are objectified as, "slits, bitches, broads, whores, and sluts."
Objectified minorities know that if one does not keep one's "place" one is open to attack. Every minority knows that in their gut. Rush Limbaugh knows it too.
My question to myself is, what is the best response to Rush's latest targeting of someone as fresh meat?
I'm tempted to help try to get him off the air. As the head of NOW said, he has the constitutional right to say his mind, but he does not have the constitutional right to say it on TV and radio. It's not denying him free speech to tell his purveyors and sponsors that we are voting with our cash to not buy their products or listen to their channel or station in protest.
But, there is the "too much trash trashes the trasher factor" to consider. One of my own invented sayings is: "The trouble with evil is that it's so hard to pace yourself." Maybe if left alone he will go so far into nasty and destructive that he will destroy his own influence.
It's quite telling that the Republican presidential candidates and the maybe ones don't want to say anything to draw his ire and similar trashing. Their mild responses to his outrageous and dishonest attack of the law student make that pretty obvious.
If we do nothing to try to get Rush off the air will he rush on to his own career destruction, and in the process discredit both himself and those he supports with his hate mongering of everyone he perceives as their opponents?
I wonder. What do you think?