Rush Limbaugh

'Shutting Down' Rush Limbaugh

One last thing about Bill Maher because it's important to make some distinctions here. And I do hasten to note that I like Maher and his show, and I don't mean for this to come off as a generalized attack against him. But this is a crucial discussion to have, so...

Here's an extended clip of Friday night's Real Time. Watch it from end to end.

Limbaugh's words do, in fact, hurt people -- as evidenced by the proposed Arizona law that Maher mentioned in this exact same segment. This and similar laws are only winning legislative support because Limbaugh and others in the right-wing media are cheerleading them and providing cover for the misogynistic lawmakers responsible.

Another point. Maher is, or was, a board member for PETA -- an organization that spends considerable resources "shutting down" anyone or anything that hurts animals. It's a similar principle at play against Limbaugh: the public should always hold accountable the free market whenever necessary. Not everyone has a national stage like Maher or Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow, so we use one of the only tools we have: citizen activism.

Again, it's not about restricting free speech -- it's not about shutting down a comedian who made a joke that included the word "cunt". By the way, I don't see any liberal Democratic lawmakers rushing to legislate in support of calling Sarah Palin a cunt, but I see nearly every Republican-controlled legislative body attempting to pass laws based on Limbaugh's misogyny -- specifically, laws against women who are asking taxpayers to pay for them to have sex (in Limbaugh's vernacular). That's one of the major contextual differences between Maher, most stand up comics, and Limbaugh. Conservative Republicans do, in fact, legislate right-wing misogyny. Liberals most certainly do not legislate left-wing misogyny.

If we're not allowed to hold Premiere Radio Networks and the free market accountable when it engages in activities that hurt us, what power do we have left?

  • GrafZeppelin127

    OK, I’m late to this party, but here’s what I think.

    Let me say first that (1) I like Bill Maher as well and (2) I disagree with him on this as well. I have some thoughts on what he’s saying, and what he’s missing, and they’re both related.

    I really don’t think Maher is proceeding from the faulty argument that “making people [like Limbaugh] disappear when they say things you don’t like” has anything to do with the First Amendment. I think what he’s against is the idea of punishing people economically for the things they say, irrespective of “free speech.” What he’s missing, and for all I know he’s not missing this and just has a difference of opinion, is that for people like Rush (and Maher himself), the things he says are themselves a product, they are something he is literally selling, they are actually monetizable, which is not the case for most people.

    As a result, it makes perfect sense for people (i.e., the “free market”) to use economic force to punish Limbaugh for selling a foul, poisonous product, to discourage and/or actively try to prevent people from buying it. Limbaugh’s speech is sold to and purchased by advertisers, whose money in turn comes from consumers.

    Now, I can understand why Maher would be against the idea of punishing someone economically and rendering them unable to sell their product, where the product is speech, because he’s in that boat and it’s happened to him. I get that. But for the rest of us, the proper way to look at and understand this is to put it in the products-liability context, not the free-speech context; think of Rush’s words as asbestos or lead paint. In short, we don’t have to buy the product that Limbaugh is selling, and we can act to prevent others from buying it as well because we find it harmful and dangerous. No one has the right to sell a defective, dangerous product on the open market and put consumers at risk.

  • Jeff Fecke

    Once more, with feeling: Nobody has a constitutional right to a talk show. Rush has an absolute right to free speech (though not to libel or slander). If the government were to arrest Limbaugh for saying Obama is bad, then I would be the first to defend him.

    But that doesn’t mean that Limbaugh has the right to speak and face no consequences. Just as Rush can say what he wants, I can say that he’s offensive and evil, and I won’t buy things from his advertisers. His advertisers have the right to say that they don’t want the headache, and drop him. If he loses his job, his rights have not been trampled at all; Rush has no constitutional right to a multimillion-dollar paycheck.

  • Miranda

    I really dont understand these idiotic defenses of Rush as if he’s being tarred and feathered in the public square. Nobody’s stopping Rush from speaking. If he believed in that free market the way he says he does, he would go satellite or online and all of his loyal listeners would pay directly to listen to him say whatever the hell he wants to say for as long as he wants.

    I don’t know…maybe there aren’t as many 70 year old toothless hicks in Mississippi that even know what Citrix is or send as many flowers via ProFlowers as Rush thought. Just maybe these national advertisers realize that spending millions on AM hate radio doesn’t actually pan out to increased consumer BUYING for their products. Let the local businesses in Tuttlesville, MS and Tiny Corner, AL support the stations that continue to play these daily hatefests. Allstate and Carbonite not getting any value for their ad dollars – let Jed’s Bait and Hook Store and Myra’s Beauty Shop- where they listen to this crap all damn day, fill those ad slots.

  • Homer Erectus

    There’s a vast difference between what Maher said and what Limbaugh said (and for the record, I think they’re both loudmouthed idiots, and I’m not a fan of either of them). What Maher said is called an insult. Sarah Palin clearly is not a cunt (although we can assume she has one since she’s obviously used it more than once to create her hillbilly clan). Calling her a cunt is an example of metonymy–a rhetorical device in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept. On the other hand, calling Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute is more than simply an insult; it is an example of slander–a malicious, false, and defamatory statement, designed to injure a person’s reputation. As a private citizen, Sandra Fluke enjoys legal protection from slanderous statements. And if there’s any justice in the world, she’ll sue Rush Limbaugh straight to hell.

  • holyreality

    I took his word as that we are too thin skinned these days.

    But you do have a point. Rush get the dittoheads riled and angry that wimmen are having illicit sex! This mouth foam exposes the sentiments like wanting Sandra to be circumcised, or worse.

    Bills jokes get an oooooh a chuckle, and the obligatory boo, and that’s it, he already moved onto the next potshot on the next politician and none of his fans want Newt to stop getting blowjobs.

  • agrazingmoose

    Maher really stepped in it. You would think that he would know better by now.

  • Becky Stinson Kutz

    Another big diff – Maher considers himself to be an entertainer. Rush takes offense to that term.

    • Bob Rutledge

      Except when he claims it as a shield. Or when his supporters brandish it as such.

  • KQµårk™

    I do have a problem with Maher of course on this issue but in general as well. He’s just an insincere person who seems to think everything is a joke. That’s his excuse for defending Limbaugh here. Well the truth is like you say allot of people take Limbaugh’s words seriously meaning they are trying to put them into action. So it’s not ‘just a joke’ when Limbaugh says it.

  • LK3

    Bob, Thank you for this. I was erroneously believing that Maher was defending him in fear that if Limbaugh got kicked off the air, he felt the right wing would go after him in retaliation and have him kicked off the air. Your points truly made me re-think my own interpretation of the whole Maher/ Limbaugh discussion. You made such insightful points. Thank you