In Defense of Rush Limbaugh

Not his words. Nor his publicly-stated political opinions (which, I have excellent reason to believe, are purely for marketing purposes).

Calls for economic censorship are dangerous. Whether they’re from the Right against the Left (as when various right-wing pundits called for me to be fired, jailed or shot after 9/11), or from the Left against the Right (as in the current calls for Limbaugh to be fired for calling a Georgetown Law student a “slut” and a “prostitute”).

You know where I stand on Limbaugh. And where he stands on me. We despise one another. And I doubt he would defend my right to speak, or even live. But whatever.

When you call for censorship you open up your own partisans to similar calls in the future. Hard as this might be to fathom, my politics are just as objectionable to right-wingers as Limbaugh’s remarks are to those of us on the Left. Call for Limbaugh to be canned and you make it more likely that I’ll be canned for saying or drawing something that pisses them off. You just don’t want to go there.

Don’t like Limbaugh? Ignore him. Or declaim him as the fucked-up sexist shithead blowhard that he is. Calling for his sponsors to drop him is just a lazy substitute for a powerful counterargument.

P.S. Spare me the idiotic comments that only governments can censor. The dictionary says otherwise.


  • piranhaintheguppytank
    March 3, 2012 1:56 PM

    That’s the difference between progressives and conservatives.

    Progressive put up a sign at the edge of the slippery slope that reads, “Watch your step.” Conservatives leave a banana peel there.

  • LimpButt is NOT “a fucked-up, sexist, shithead blowhard.” This implies a detectable level of humanity.

    He IS a pile of pigshit that has somehow “learned” to mimic human speech. “It” is a specimen that richly deserves scientific scrutiny … if there are any brave enough.

    As I understand, “it” has not “called” a young woman a “slut” and a “prostitute,” but ranted insults, quasi-continuously, for days.

  • […] as Ted Rall puts it on his blog: Don’t like Limbaugh? Ignore him. Or declaim him as the fucked-up sexist shithead blowhard that […]

  • There’s the Ted Rall that actually makes sense. I am almost always against censorship, especially in the case of political commentary. Frankly a sound counterargument is much more likely to shut someone off.

  • Limbaugh is a genius. He knows that yanking your chain always works. While you are focused on him, another soldier in Afghanistan can have his legs blown off….. Trolls – Can’t live with them, CAN live without them.

  • To rikster:

    Don’t foist your apparent self-perceived limitations onto others as it is not at all difficult to recognize the total destructiveness of both LimpButt and US foreign policy

  • exkiodexian
    March 4, 2012 9:48 PM

    I agree with Ted in principle, but the problem is that conservatives always boycott when they don’t like something liberals say or do. That makes it fair game unfortunately. You can’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

  • What Limbaugh represents goes far beyond free speech the same way Citizens United goes beyond free speech. He’s the Goebbels figure for the right and corporate America, the dude is just the propaganda head. I don’t think he cares about losing a few sponsors, a few billionaire businessmen will just subsidize his show somehow. My beef with boycotts is that they won’t go far enough. We need a Fairness Doctrine style law to keep him off his hundreds of channels and create balance to the airwaves. One of main reasons why liberals have trouble reaching out to many blue-collared workers is because all they hear during their work is right-wing radio and that is unhealthy.

  • OK, I get that censorship is not good, but I don’t see any calls for censorship of Mr. Limbaugh. What I have heard is a lot of outrage and offense to his nastiness and I think it’s well deserved. I think that boycotting him and a campaign to target companies that advertise through him is also completely fair game, Ted. Not only does he need to face the full wrath that his hatefulness spawns, but I think the Republican and right wing complicity with Rush Limbaugh needs to not be downplayed.

    Rush Limbaugh and other scum like him need to be draped around the neck of the GOP like an anchor until they castigate him, as opposed to allowing him and his ilk to drive every ounce of moderation out of that party. In the US, we only have two major parties. It as always been this way and no matter how much people whine it will continue to be this way.

    Would that everyone in the world could be as psychologically detached from the real world impacts of this as Ted, who comfortably blogs about the suffering of others -much as I comfortably lecture in classrooms about the suffering of others- but there is a real impact to what people like Limbaugh do.

    Ted, your defense of Limbaugh is squarely counter to your cartoon about the Jews protesting in a concentration camp. On the one hand you advocate action and speaking truth to power, and in this case you come to his defense on the grounds of free speech and being opposed to censorship.

    Reacting to Limbaugh’s comments with rage and action does not constitute censorship. Nobody is saying he can’t say what he wants to say, they’re saying it’s disgusting and offensive and crosses a line.

    It’s slanderous, and Sandra Fluke should sue the living shit out of him for it. He called her a slut and a prostitute. That’s slander and defamation of character. Yet nobody has sought legal action against him. Why? Because we all know where the real power lies….don’t be a tool about it.

  • nom du jour
    March 5, 2012 9:20 AM

    A boycott of Rush at this point is just grand-standing.

    Don’t tell me these sponsors didn’t know he was a jackass before this when they were paying top dollar for Rush’s OxyContin fueled screeds that have been his standard for over 20 years.

    I agree with Ted on this. Let people have free reign, it will expose the left and right shit much easier and won’t give either the crutch that they are being censored by the other side.

  • Bruce Coulson
    March 5, 2012 10:29 AM

    As Nat Hentoff observed, everyone wants free spech for their side, and everyone wants to restrict the speech of the other side.

    And if everyone just stopped listening to Limbaugh, how long would he last?

  • Bruce, I’m sure someone said that about the Nazis….in fact, they did! I’ve heard several interviews about Jewish families who stayed in Germany because they just didn’t think Hitler would last…’s not that simple….20 million people listen to and LOVE Rush Limbaugh and the crap he spews. We need to fight this.

  • OK. Let’s see then.
    If I go to a very public venue, grab the mic and say “Limbaugh is a fat old gasbag who can’t get a hard on and that’s why he has no kids.” That would be defamation of character and he could sue me.
    So would the proper response be for every woman using birth control to file a class action law suit and sue Rush for defamation of character and the $50 million a year he makes at Clear Channel?

  • Hi Ted,

    As one of the few if any conservatives that visit your site I listen to Rush as well. Did he go over the line, yep. And I disagreed with him back in the Clinton days when Bill was not having sexual relations with Monica, who really cares, other than I thought Bill could have done better. I think the extremes blur what the debate is really about. Should uncle sam take care of all our needs or should it be left up to the individuals themselves. Would be nice if the political dialog would stay on point and not go to extremes to show how bad the other side is on a personal level. Limbaugh’s a pig, he called her a slut, dosen’t really address the question at hand and who’s right and who’s wrong. For those on the left that think raising cain with sponsors will stop this guy, you’re wrong, he paid Elton John to sing at his wedding, he’s not asking for donations to buy a computer. Won’t work on him. Pockets too deep. But Ted I agree, we need to discuss openly both sides and let the public decide which road to take. Obamas personal life should prove that anyone can succed in this country as it is. A half black, half white man from a broken family home is able to attend Harvard and become president under the same old rules we’ve had for years, I think the country is doing just fine. This is in regards to the ability of anyone to make the most of themselves. Now all we need is a few more grown-ups in washington to put together a better national energy policy, re-examine trade policies, and get the government out of the private business sector and get out of our way to let us continue to work and prosper. And no I don’t support the wars, you won’t change those people and we should’nt try. No more nation building, if they do something that deserves an attack, then attack and leave them to rebuild by themselves, no more ground troops. Done ramblin here, always enjoy your thoughts, I do think its time for you to pull back a bit from the revolution ideas, we’re not there yet. See even a gun totin, bible thumpin redneck from the midwest can discuss things with you and we can disagree but I still like ya.

  • alex_the_tired
    March 5, 2012 4:35 PM

    I think that part of the problem is the approach. Limbaugh says something stupid, some people get upset, some sort of a boycott begins, Limbaugh offers a token apology, the fuss dies down, Limbaugh says something stupid … and the cycle repeats. Limbaugh is running the lefties like a bunch of dopes.

    If they’re SERIOUS about getting rid of Limbaugh. Fine. Start a campaign to do it. Write letters to all his sponsors. Physical letters. Not cut-and-paste bullshit that you e-mail in a second. “There, I’m such an empowered person! I sent that e-mail all on my own, just like a big boy or girl would.” Pretty much no CEO gives a fuck about an e-mail campaign. They’ll make the right noises and humor the lumpen masses but most CEOs look at an e-mail campaign just like you look at spam: the laziest way on earth to annoy someone. People get upset about a lot of things. And lazy people are always easily distracted by the next Important Cause That Needs E-mails!

    You want to really fight Rush Limbaugh? You want him off the air? Then do it right.

    E-mail? Pointless and ineffective. A couple of miserable souls chained to desks to process them will be the only ones who see them. A CEO might get a report that encapsulates the tone of all the e-mails, and he will also be told that these things usually die down as soon as the next cause comes up.

    It takes 10 minutes, tops, to sit down, write a letter (on paper, with pen), put it in an envelope, and mail it. Because it takes time, a physical letter actually has a force-multiplier effect. 100 e-mails? Pfffft! 100 letters? Not so pfffft anymore. Some companies retain mail for a set period of time for legal reasons. Someone has to process everything, put it in storage, etc. Your one physical letter can drain away multiples of time compared to how much time an e-mail can drain. And that means expense to the company.

    Dial in to the customer call center or sales division. Talk to the agent for a while. Really drag out the call. Ask a lot of questions. If they try to close the deal and get you to buy something, hit them right between the eyes with it: “Well, I have some concerns about buying from a company that advertises on the Rush Limbaugh radio program. I’m going to have to think about this some more. I’ll call back.” And call back. Call the next day and ask about some other products.

    Other methods exist of course. Some of the sponsors will sell their things through stores. Drag those stores into it. A small group of real pains in the ass can actually get a lot done. But unless the “Hey ho, hey ho, Rush Limbaugh has got to go” crowd is going to actually bring their A game, this is just one more idiotic non-effort by the progressives. And every time Rush survives one of these meager attempts, the greater his legend becomes.

  • John From Censornati
    March 6, 2012 8:17 AM

    As long as we’re talking about how much Rash hates women, we’re not talking about how much Santorum hates women. That’s the plan.

  • “And if everyone just stopped listening to Limbaugh, how long would he last?”

    The reason why so many people listen to him is because he is on so many channels, he isn’t on so many channels because people want to listen to him. You can hear him in the middle of nowhere while liberals have a hard time being allowed on urban stations. Limbaugh is just a corporate mouthpiece and right-wing billionaires subsidize him to stay on. If half of his viewers left, he probably wouldn’t lose a single station.

  • And one thing people are forgetting is that Limbaugh is the one trying to censor people, not vice versa. When he called Sandra Fluke those names, he was sending a message: “if you want to speak out in favor of birth control, your sex life will be put on trial.” So I refuse to shed a tear for Rush over calls of sponsorship boycotts because he wants to terrorize all women.

  • Spacious Specious
    March 6, 2012 5:22 PM

    If I’m at work and I begin to bellow racist and sexist remarks for a few hours, I will be looking for a new job in a very short time. Freedom of Speech is guaranteed only when I’m off the clock. That seems like an extremely debased form of Freedom of Speech to me, but that’s what we have. Unacceptable speech has been highly codified in the workplace and only a moron has a difficult time figuring out whether their next remark will be an appropriate one.

    I would submit that Rush Limbaugh’s speech has been unacceptable for the workplace for decades. It’s like he has a government job and can’t be fired for creating a hostile work environment, despite endless warnings.

    Going after his advertisers is debased free speech, but entirely appropriate in this environment. Even more appropriate would be going after the folks who actually cut his checks. Call it a “market correction” – Rush won’t get shut down, but he will have to organize an online fundraiser just to buy a new computer for his podcast.

    His form of “entertainment” is very niche-market, but has been inflated out of proportion by politics and his massive sense of entitlement.

  • I’m sorry, Ted, this just doesn’t follow.

    There isn’t some sort of natural symbiosis of outrage between left and right, implying that if we on the left only do the reasonable thing, then those on the right will as well.

    You know that’s not how it works.

    I think the only reason they hit on you, and the only reason why they keep hitting on you, was because of Tillman. Aside from that, you are very intelligent and very observant and you’re right almost all of the time.

    Limbaugh has to go. Limbaugh is their mouthpiece. He says crap like that and he’s a mainstay on Armed Forces Radio.

    We’ve got a great opportunity to really stick it to that fat lying pig, and we shouldn’t waste the chance while we have it.

  • FYI for unclebubba regarding Obama’s “humble beginnings:”

    The “poor boy reared by a single mum makes good” storyline is fiction. Obama’s family – maternal grandparents, parents, and stepdad were CIA operatives. Journalist Wayne Madsen did an extensive report using CIA files that document agency connections to institutions tied to Obama and family. After the election, said records were sealed via executive order.

    In the 60s, mother Stanley Ann Dunham did post-coup espionage activities in Indonesia on behalf of several CIA front operations including East-West Center at U of Hawaii, USAID, and Ford Foundation.

    Obama, Sr. (dad) was part of a CIA aiflift of African students to attend US colleges to be trained and indocrinated for use as agents of influence in Africa. One of chief missions of CIA-recruited students is to infiltrate leftist student movements to disrupt or recruit.

    Lolo Soetoro (stepdad) met Obama’s mother at East-West Center in 1965. Soetoro served in 1965 as senior army officer and assisted General Suharto and CIA in overthrow of President Sukarno. Coup killed nearly 1 million Indonesian citizens. Soetoro and wife were involved in CIA ops to steer Indonesia away from Sino-Soviet influence after the overthrow of Sukarno.

    Madelyn Dunham (grandma) was VP at Bank of Hawaii in Honolulu. Various CIA front organizations used the bank for money laundering for the CIA to covertly prop up favored leaders in Asia-Pacific region. She handled escrow accounts used to make CIA payments to US-supported dictators such as Marcos, S Vietnamese president Nguyen van Thieu, Suharto in Indonesia.

    Stanley Armour Dunham (grandpa) was supposedly in furniture business in Hawaii after serving in WWII. Obama says parents met in Russian class at U of Hawaii in 1959. However, a photo shows Grandpa Dunham welcoming Obama Sr on arrival from CIA airlift from Kenya to Hawaii. Photo indicates Armour Dunham was in fact working w/CIA funded project to educate aspiring politicians to serve post-independence African govts to counter Soviet and Chinese-backed political leaders in the region.

    Obama attended Occidental College in Los Angeles from 79-81. This college has close ties to CIA and for many years was top target for CIA recruiting efforts. Obama also worked for Business International Corp, a known CIA front company in the early 80s.

    This is not the CV of a welfare family.

  • piranhaintheguppytank
    March 10, 2012 2:06 PM

    Here’s a sobering piece about the criminalizing of free speech (via Edwin Kagin’s Blasphemous Blogging):

  • alex_the_tired
    March 10, 2012 7:19 PM


    You left out time travel. And let’s not forget how Obama was inoculated against fluoridated water when the Nazis colonized the moon back in the 1950s.

  • Not so fast, Ted.

    Forget the assertion that pulling money equals censorship, because that’s absurd. (Proof: the Montgomery bus boycott, plus every tenet of democracy established over the last three hundred years.) What kills me about this is that Rush Limbaugh has been getting away with his shtick for too long. He’s done real damage to life in America, and it clearly brings him joy. He finally goes too far and gets what’s coming to him and…we start with the hand-wringing? (see also Bill Maher) Are you kidding me?

    Bareknuckles politics is an area where the left falls flat and I’m fucking tired of it. Dish out some political black eyes to hypocrites that deserve it and don’t apologize. Revel in it. Wade into their ranks because for each manufactured attack on ACORN and Shirley Sherrod, we can cite dozens of documented examples of corruption, lies, and death. Forget about pulling ads, we could fill entire prisons (or graveyards) with fascist douchebags that are seeking to destroy our lives. Rush Limbaugh is actually small potatoes. If we get weak over something like this, it doesn’t look good for the political battles ahead.

  • alex_the_tired
    March 10, 2012 11:43 PM

    Mason C,

    Thank you. Everything you wrote is exactly right. When cornered and forced to fight, too many progressives try to take “the high road.” I have hoped for years that they would finally get tired of being backed into a corner in the prison showers over and over and take a page from the other side’s playbook: beat the living shit out of the aggressors. If Obama were going to win the upcoming election, I’d ask the group if there were any guesses as to what shade of white the surrender flag would be the day after the votes were (ha ha) counted. But that’s a moot point, unless Romney chokes to death on a meatball or gets caught in a mansion fire.

  • Bricer, I always assumed it was through government programs to help level the playing field for minorities that helped Obama get into these schools and I always felt we as the white majority had done alot to help. You know, special programs and diversity quotas and such. Maybe not, if what you say is true. Always hard to filter the facts. All I do know now is he speaks for a larger government more involved with people’s daily lives and thinks that is the answer and direction we should go. I happen to think he’s wrong. Question, he was never a member of the tri-lateral commission or a member of skull and bones society was he??

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