I favor leaving Rush Limbaugh on the air. I declined to sign a petition asking Clear Channel Communications to remove him. Rush is endlessly fascinating. It’s kind of like staring at the snakes at the zoo, watching a street fight, or lingering at the scene of a train wreck. You know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t seem to look away.
Shock jock Howard Stern keeps his audience in the same way. Oh yes, there are the supporters who simply align with everything he says, but… It seems that, whether they like Howard or not, most tune in “to see what he will say next.”
Limbaugh is an embarrassing caricature of the hate and bigotry embraced by too many conservatives. He seems to enlarge and amplify their basest attitudes. He’s the kind of influence my Mother warned me against when she said, “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” Of course, Limbaugh positions himself as the Grand Defender of Virtue, but that’s another story… That is what he thinks, and that is what my Mom thought. Mom wins.
Some listeners are embracing Rush’s message but the bad behavior of “dittoheads” is alienating independents. [For what it’s worth, Google “dittoheads.” You will find some very creative and entertaining send-ups of the phenomenon.] The Urban Dictionary points out the obvious; blind, unthinking, following without question. There is a satirical 12-step program for dittoheads. The good times just keep rolling.
Other listeners are uncomfortable and defecting from his program. In fact, as of this writing, an explosion of advertisers are also rejecting his show.
Finally, Limbaugh is energizing liberals. He is standing in the open, drawing lightening to himself. Just as Republicans cynically energize the bigotry of their base by giving them people and ideas to hate, Rush is out there painting targets on himself every day.
Rush is wrong. Rush is a train wreck. And, if you don’t believe me, ask your Mother… or Al Franken. Let him rant. Let him be the shining public example of everything that you no longer want to be. Don’t go over to the dark side of the force. Go to the light.