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They’re Making Me Defend Rush Limbaugh

I’ve made my opinion of Rush Limbaugh’s derogatory comments about Sandra Fluke fairly clear. They were crude and disgusting, and his apology was mostly self-serving. Additionally, I consider him to be mostly a negative influence on the conservative movement, the Republican Party, and American politics in general. I haven’t listened to him, at least not on a regular or voluntary basis, in years and have no intention of doing so at any point in the future. He’s managed to become very rich thanks to what he does but, kind of like Howard Stern, what he does adds very little that’s positive to American culture.

Having said all of that, I’ve got to say that I’ve become more than a little disturbed by some aspects of the anti-Limbaugh backlash that has resulted from the Fluke comments. The most prominent of these, perhaps, is the campaign that seems to have originated with Media Matters of America to get sponsors to pull their ads from Limbaugh’s show in the wake of the Fluke comments. By some counts, this campaign has resulted more than 50 national and local sponsors to pull their ads. Yes, such a campaign is within the First Amendment rights of the people behind it, but after pondering the matter for several days I kind of find myself agreeing with Bill Maher’s comments about this campaign:

“I got crap from both the left and the right this week because — OK, let me address the left first, because I found this more disheartening,” Maher said. “They were very mad at me because I tweeted that people like Rush Limbaugh — who I absolutely disagree with, I’ve never said a good word about him, I did a whole monologue about what an asshole he was only a week ago — but I said I don’t like it that people are made to disappear when they say something or people try to make them disappear when they say something you don’t like. That’s America. Sometimes you’re made to feel uncomfortable, OK?”

Maher proceeded to attack Limbaugh, but warned of the potential chilling effect the situation would have for speech.

“Can we put this in perspective?” Maher said. “No one died. A guy made a bad joke, a bad joke because a — it was a disgusting sentiment that he was evoking and also because it wasn’t even a joke. It’s a stupid fat fuck who is not funny and it annoys me that people who cannot keep two disparate thoughts in their own mind lump me in together with him and say I’m defending him. I’m not defending him. I’m defending living in a country where people don’t have to be afraid that they might go out of the bounds for one minute. Do we all want to be talking like White House spokesmen?”

(…)

“Let me give you a quote from the ACLU, liberals,” he said. “[T]he ACLU — what more liberal bastion is there than that? ‘It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something that many find reasonable, but the defense of freedom of speech is more critical when the message is something that most people find repulsive.’ We’re looking at you, Rush Limbaugh. But you know what? I would rather put up with Rush Limbaugh and live in a country where we all do have freedom of speech. And the people who I’ve heard say, when they put pressure on his sponsors, the system is working. No it’s not. That’s the system being manipulated. I lived through that 10 years ago.”

Maher has a point. As a legal matter, the First Amendment only applies to attempts by government entities to suppress speech. For that reason, the actions of private organizations to pressure Limbaugh’s advertisers — or Bill Maher’s in the years when he was still on commercial television — are entirely protected and no reasonable person would suggest that they should be banned. At the same time, though, there is an ethos to the First Amendment that suggests that efforts to suppress the speech of others should be avoided. There’s an old idea called the marketplace of ideas that says that all forms of speech should be allowed to flourish, and that the people themselves are the best judge of the value of that speech. Even offensive speech should be protected by the law, the argument goes, because the only thing that suppressing it accomplishes is to drive it underground. In the specific case of Rush Limbaugh, the campaign against advertisers seems to me to be misplaced. As long as Limbaugh has millions of listeners there will be companies willing to advertise on his show. Instead of targeting the advertisers, the target should be the audience. Persuade them that he’s wrong, that’s what a battle of ideas is all about.

The advertiser boycott, though, is minor in comparison to some of the other more alarming ideas I’ve seen pop up in response to the Fluke controversy.

First up, we have the seemingly omnipresent Gloria Allred calling on the prosecutors in Palm Beach County, Florida to charge Limbaugh with a crime:

Rush Limbaugh has drawn the ire of celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who sent a letter to the Palm Beach County state attorney requesting an investigation into whether the popular radio host should be prosecuted for calling a law student a “slut” and “prostitute” last week.

“Mr. Limbaugh targeted his attack on a young law student who was simply exercising her free speech and her right to testify before congress on a very important issue to millions of American women and he vilified her. He defamed her and engaged in unwarranted, tasteless and exceptionally damaging attacks on her,” Allred told POLITICO Friday afternoon. “He needs to face the consequences of his conduct in every way that is meaningful.”

In a letter dated March 8, Allred, writing on behalf of the Women’s Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund, requested that Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe probe whether the conservative radio personality had violated Section 836.04 of the Florida Statutes by calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke the two derogatory words.

The statute stipulates that anyone who “speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity” is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. Allred explained that the statute recently came to her attention as having never been repealed, and that it could very well apply to Limbaugh’s remarks as his show is broadcast from West Palm Beach.

It is now entirely up to the prosecutor to exercise his discretion on whether there will be a prosecution. McAuliffe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

First of all, on behalf of lawyers everywhere I just want to apologize for Gloria Allred. I’m honestly not even sure what she does for a career anymore other than fly around the country looking for the next high profile case involving sexual allegations of some kind. You might remember the last time she showed up was when Sharon Bialek held her odd press conference alleging that Herman Cain had attempted to grope her in a car in Washington, D.C. some years ago. When there’s a high profile case, there’s no more dangerous place on the planet than to stand between Gloria Allred and a television camera.

Second, as Eugene Volokh details in a post at The Volokh Conspiracy, it’s fairly clear that the Florida statute under which Allred argues for Limbaugh’s prosecution is unconstitutional not just under the First Amendment, but under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment:

[T]he Florida criminal statute, which explicitly applies only to accusations about women and not men, almost certainly violates the Equal Protection Clause doctrine that bans most forms of sex discrimination. (See, e.g., Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan (1982).) This doctrine has long been used to invalidate laws that ostensibly favor women but are based on, and perpetuate, sex-based norms of proper behavior; and at least two cases, Ivey v. State (Ala. 2001) and Rejent v. Liberation Pubs. (N.Y. App. Div. 1994), have specifically concluded that such sex-based rules in libel law are unconstitutional — here’s what Rejent said:

It is, as one commentator has noted, ‘quite blatantly sexist and discriminatory, and is based on outmoded assumptions about sexual behavior. Sex-based classifications very similar to the ‘unchastity of a woman’ rule have been struck down by the United States Supreme Court as violative of the equal protection clause…. The Restatement (Second) takes a laudable lead in this area, modifying the traditional rule to a sex-neutral standard that renders any imputation of ‘sexual misconduct’ by a man or woman slanderous per se.

And since I quite doubt that Florida courts would be willing to cure the discrimination by broadening the criminal law to cover accusations against men — courts in most states generally aren’t allowed to essentially criminalize behavior that the legislature hasn’t criminalized — I think the Florida statute would have to be struck down as an Equal Protection Clause violation, leaving it to the legislature to decide whether to reenact a sex-neutral statute.

I’ll leave the legal analysis on this one to Professor Volokh, and just say that anyone who responds to an offensive comment by a radio talk show host by saying he should be criminally prosecuted is either someone who has no respect for the First Amendment, or someone who will say anything necessary to get attention once a microphone is thrust in front of them. Given that this is Ms. Allred we’re talking about, I’ll let the reader come to their own conclusion. However, I have to say as an attorney that it’s absolutely irresponsible for an officer of the court to suggest that the power of the state should be used to suppress a person’s freedom of speech in this manner. Yes, what Limbaugh said was disgusting.  But saying something disgusting shouldn’t be a crime.

Along the same lines of Allred’s call for criminal prosecution is an Op-Ed at CNN by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem calling on the Federal Communications Commission to ban Rush Limbaugh from the airwaves:

Limbaugh doesn’t just call people names. He promotes language that deliberately dehumanizes his targets. Like the sophisticated propagandist Josef Goebbels, he creates rhetorical frames — and the bigger the lie the more effective — inciting listeners to view people they disagree with as sub-humans. His longtime favorite term for women, “femi-nazi,” doesn’t even raise eyebrows anymore, an example of how rhetoric spreads when unchallenged by coarsened cultural norms.

To be honest, the mention of Goebbels should be enough to send this column into laughably silly, or at least Godwin’s Law, territory. Say what you will about Rush Limbaugh, but Goebbels he is not and, as with every other attempt to analogize a contemporary political dispute by comparing one’s opponents to the most evil regime in human history, the point alone makes the rest of the argument exceedingly silly. Nonetheless, there is more to consider:

Spectrum is a scarce government resource. Radio broadcasters are obligated to act in the public interest and serve their respective communities of license. In keeping with this obligation, individual radio listeners may complain to the FCC that Limbaugh’s radio station (and those syndicating his show) are not acting in the public interest or serving their respective communities of license by permitting such dehumanizing speech.

The FCC takes such complaints into consideration when stations file for license renewal. For local listeners near a station that carries Limbaugh’s show, there is plenty of evidence to bring to the FCC that their station isn’t carrying out its public interest obligation. Complaints can be registered under the broadcast category of the FCC website: http://www.fcc.gov/complaints

This isn’t political. While we disagree with Limbaugh’s politics, what’s at stake is the fallout of a society tolerating toxic, hate-inciting speech. For 20 years, Limbaugh has hidden behind the First Amendment, or else claimed he’s really “doing humor” or “entertainment.” He is indeed constitutionally entitled to his opinions, but he is not constitutionally entitled to the people’s airways.

It’s time for the public to take back our broadcast resources. Limbaugh has had decades to fix his show. Now it’s up to us.

Here’s how you do that. Don’t like the show? Don’t listen to it. There, you’ve solved your problem. Using the heavy hand of the state to ban someone from the airwaves is not only offensive to the First Amendment, it strikes me as being entirely un-American. The arguments about limited spectrum are absurd given the world that we live in, and there is a generations worth of Supreme Court opinions that make clear that what this Op-Ed suggests is entirely unconstitutional. The argument that “[t]his isn’t political” is absurd and silly. These activists are targeting Limbaugh precisely because of his political opinions, and it’s those opinions that are the reason they want the state to shut him up. Agree with him or disagree with him, that’s just wrong.

Rush Limbaugh is loud, offensive, and abrasive. I don’t like him. However, to borrow a phrase, I will defend to the death his right to say what he says. And so should anyone else who believes in free speech.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    I agree, in fact since he is now the face of the Republican party he should be encouraged.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 12

  2. I maintain that he’s a troll. Trolls want attention and should be ignored. Don’t feed the trolls, people!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

  3. Andy says:

    Good post and I agree that free speech is too important to mess around with.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  4. steve says:

    Rush had every right to say what he did. Other people have every right to ask advertisers to pull their support, and to complain about what he said. However, there should be no legal action. Free speech should be a near absolute. Additionally, there should be no right to be free of the consequences of one’s speech. (95% of all claims about PC are just people wanting to be free of the consequences of what they say, and not wanting to face any disagreements.)

    Steve

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 50 Thumb down 1

  5. David M says:

    I don’t mind the advertiser pressure, but the lawsuit isn’t doing any good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  6. First up, we have the seemingly omnipresent Gloria Allred calling on the prosecutors in Palm Beach County, Florida to charge Limbaugh with a crime:

    Wonder if any of the “well the law may be dumb, but the law is the law” types we normally see in immigration threads are gonna jump in and demand that this law be enforced on the same grounds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  7. MM says:

    What Steve said. I don’t typically get involved in boycotts, but I think the right to tell a company that they are supporting something that you don’t is just as important as Limbaugh being free to say whatever he wants (and not be charged as a criminal or banned by the FCC).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  8. @MM:

    As I said, as a legal matter the boycott campaign is also protected speech. However, it’s ethos issue that bothers me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  9. Hey Norm says:

    You know…I wonder if the ratings on Limbaugh and his ilk are down? Does anyone know? Because my theory is that his advertisers wouldn’t be going anywhere if his ratings were good. But if his numbers are down it’s a perfect excuse to jump ship. Why lose money and take a bunch of crap too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  10. DRS says:

    If large numbers of sponsors are leaving it’s because they have evidence that maintaining the relationship is detrimental to their bottom line – end of story. Obviously the benefits of leaving outweigh the benefits of sticking around. And Limbaugh’s unprecedented (and totally lousy) apology didn’t come from out of nowhere either – there was pressure from somewhere put on him to do it.

    All this is business, pure and simple. He can go stand on a street corner and free speech his little brains out, no one is going to stop him. But to keep doing it on a radio show – well that’s going to take the co-operation of a bunch of people who write cheques to the program. And that part isn’t constitutionally protected.

    And Bill Maher can go pound sand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  11. Beth says:

    At the same time, though, if sponsors don’t want to sponsor the talk or feel the pressure to at least think critically about what they’re sponsoring, I don’t have a problem with that. And I hate every word that he said and I’ve found him repulsive years. But I believe in the first amendement, and I believe he has the right to say what he wants. The problem most people (including Rush, I think) don’t seem to get is that there are often consequences for that freedom if/when you abuse it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  12. CB says:

    do these people not understand that theyre simply dragging out this entire episode? let him crawl back under his rock, and lets forget about this whole stupid story. the shelf life on this story has expired.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  13. Hey Norm says:

    This is 10 months old. It all makes sense when you follow the money. Not only does Limbaugh lie about politics…but it appears he lies about his numbers too.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/rush-limbaugh-hannity-imus-radio-ratings-2011-5

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  14. Dazedandconfused says:

    The “Liberal Left” will certainly be blamed for the corporations pulling their support, but he’s said awful things before, and there have been calls for boycotts against him before as well, IIRC. I suggest that these corporations are in the majority run by people who view themselves as conservatives, and have recognized that Rush is now a liability.

    “The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Hunter S. Thompson …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Typical. A right wing nut engages in free speech and every body comes to his defense. A left winger engages in THEIR freedom of speech…. And suddenly there are questions of over-reach.

    You know what MF’ers? Anything I can do legally to shut that idiot up, I will. You can talk about “freedom of speech” all you want. You know what? I have the freedom of speech to tell him to shut the F up, and what is more, do what ever I can, within the law, to make sure he does.

    Don’t like it?

    Tuff sh*t. Politics ain’t bean bags. Pussies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 12

  16. No. Not at all. The problem with this line of logic is that it divides freedoms down until we focus only on one, and not all the others. Of course we have free speech in this country, and the freedom to be a jerk. We also have the freedoms to avoid jerks, and the freedoms to avoid people who support jerks, or defend jerks, or advertise with jerks.

    What Maher is really saying, and what you’ve fallen for, is “forget your freedoms, and concentrate on his.”

    Sorry, Rush is not using his freedoms in any way that inspire my support or defense.

    (I had a bit of a brainwave in the car today, as I realized that enviro sites like treehugger or grist combine a philosophy with lifestyle articles centered on that sort of personal responsibility. It would be like OTB having a “no Nanny State” article, followed by a recipe for a healthy meal. Strangely though, most conservative sites seem to do the opposite. They talk the politics of personal responsibility, but are more likely to recommend scotch and cigars. I mean, good on OTB for that walking post, but that kind of thing is too rare. There is too much on the right centered on the freedom to behave badly.)

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

  17. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Yes, I would have agreed but I think I spent 10 minutes composing mine and missed yours!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  18. Carson says:

    I remember the infamous Don Imus blow up a few years ago. Imus was paid to come on and talk, giving his opinions (most of which were very well thought out and ran the political range). Every
    once in a while, he would go off the deep end, which was fine with me because I do recall that I had a remote control that I could change stations with or turn it off. Of course, Rev. Al came on and demanded he be fired and all that, and the network caved. Used to be that politicians and others would come on the radio- tv and they would disagree, but no demands that they be fired or locked up. I also remember when Rush talked about McNabb and every body went ballistic. Get real: he was giving his opinion on a sports talk show (not doing play by play) and I think that they went crazy and got rid of him for that. Think, people: they are paid to say those things. They are paid to give their opinions and interpretations, how crazy that may be. They are not being paid to give their commentary on the Book of Galatians or Shakespeare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  19. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I thought that you were a big fan of the free market? A boycott is at its very core. If I don’t like the way a company does business then I go elsewhere and either they change to fit their customers or fail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  20. @James:

    You are free to boycott a company for any reason, whether it’s because you don’t like the color of their logo or because you don’t like the shows on which they advertise. And you’re free to inform they of the reason why you’re doing so. All I am saying is that a concerted effort to get someone off the air because you don’t like the content of their speech troubles me.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 16

  21. @Doug Mataconis:

    Total contradiction in those two lines. Also, “you don’t like the content” is an attempt to hide what exactly it is you are defending.

    Is it Rush’s content? Really?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  22. @Doug Mataconis:

    Seriously, dude. Remember all those OTB posts of the past on civility?

    WTF, man. We should aspire to civility, but we should above that defend the right of “jerks” (itself a reduction in terms) to be “jerks.” Rush may have started a jerk, but his comments went far, far, below that bar.

    Be aware that I’ve spotted this pattern at OTB. Very bad behavior will be dismissed as that of “a jerk.” Nothing to worry about, right? Jerks are harmless.

    I can’t remember, was Gaddafi just a jerk?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  23. anjin-san says:

    I will defend to the death his right to say what he says. And so should anyone else who believes in free speech.

    Rush has the right to say anything he wishes. On the other hand, he does not have the right to be on the radio, the right to have sponsors, the right to a paycheck, or the right to have people who do not dig his sorry act lobby to get sponsors to drop him.

    I do agree that the government should not be involved in this. Allred is simply seeking publicity, that is what she does.

    People at the top of the mountain in entertainment, media, sports and so on reap vast rewards. Part of the price they pay is all that exposure can magnify mistakes and make crappy behavior very public. It’s not all that hard to take a fall, and from that lofty perch, the fall can be painful. Limbaugh brought this all on himself. He is, at the core, a bully, and a bully will almost always run into a fight they can’t finish sooner or later.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

  24. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Be careful, you’re letting your free market credentials slip. If he takes money from me via the companies I patronize I have every right to complain about it. In the market, the dollar is king and so this has nothing to with speech.

    His speech or rather his platform is a business that is bought and paid for with advertising dollars. If people don’t like what he represents then they can and should withhold their dollars from any business that supports his. Such choices are at the very heart of a free market. If you don’t like Limbaugh’s business why should you be forced to support it?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

  25. anjin-san says:

    All I am saying is that a concerted effort to get someone off the air because you don’t like the content of their speech troubles me.

    I am a lot more troubled by the potential downstream consequences of the steady stream of hate speech that emanates from the right wing noise machine. A lot of listeners/viewers/readers do not realize that they are simply chumps being fleeced by snake oil salesmen who laugh all the way to the bank.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  26. @john personna:

    I stand by everything I said about civility. And everything I’ve said about Limbaugh.

    I also stand by everything I said in this post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  27. @anjin-san:

    No, you’re right. He doesn’t have the right to a radio show. No more than Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz or Al Sharpton have a right to a TV show. However, that’s not what I said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  28. @James:

    Do you understand that there is a difference between saying:

    “People have a right to do X”

    and

    “People should refrain from doing X”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  29. @anjin-san:

    Shutting down speech doesn’t solve problems, it just drives the speech underground.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  30. @Doug Mataconis:

    Cognitive dissonance then, because you don’t actually support Rush’s contributions to conservative debate. The ONLY thing you’ve got at this point is the bad behavior. You defend the “right to be a jerk” in absence of redeeming value.

    … and yet somehow you are about the civility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  31. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sure I do and yet I can’t fathom how a self professed libertarian says that people can’t spend their money as they wish. You are somehow against the ethos of voting with your dollar. I can flip you off on the street corner, but I shouldn’t. You also shouldn’t have to pay me to do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  32. anjin-san says:

    Shutting down speech doesn’t solve problems, it just drives the speech underground.

    Repeat, he does not have the right to be on the radio. He does not have the right to sponsors. I’ve managed major league sports sponsorships. If someone I was writing large checks to did half of what Limbaugh did, I would pull my $$$ in a hot city minute.

    If he goes off the air, he has a website, streaming internet broadcasts etc. That gives him access to pretty much everyone in the country – hardly “underground.”

    Limbaugh is endlessly arrogant. Well, he just discovered what hubris is. He f**ked up. Asshole, meet consequences.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

  33. @James:

    I didn’t say that at all. I am merely saying that I personally disapprove of an explicit campaign to silence someone’s speech just because you disagree with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

  34. @Doug Mataconis:

    I can only laugh at that one. If we don’t all support Rush’s advertisers, Rush will be driven underground!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  35. @john personna:

    Somehow you don’t understand that one can be in favor of more civility in political debate while at the same time opposing efforts to silence political speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  36. @john personna:

    Again, you’re not really listening to what I’m saying. But then, I didn’t expect the Rush haters to understand this post anymore than I expected the Rush fans to understand this post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

  37. @Doug Mataconis:

    Blobs are free, Doug. No one is banning Rush from the internets.

    Man, you are 100 feet down and still diggin’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  38. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’m wondering what you thought about Ward Churchill being hounded out of academia for saying mean things about the people in the twin towers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  39. anjin-san says:

    No more than Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz or Al Sharpton have a right to a TV show.

    You just can’t help yourself with the false equivalence, can you?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 7

  40. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I am merely saying that I personally disapprove of an explicit campaign to silence someone’s speech just because you disagree with it.

    His speech isn’t silenced if his radio show would get cancelled (which I doubt it will be), he can just go underground (into his basement) and start a blog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  41. @john personna:

    So you’d support a similar campaign against a slimebag like Ed Schultz, or against a man who accused three innocent men of a crime and now has a show on MSNBC?

    How about Rachel Maddow? Or Andrea Mitchell? Who’s speech is so sacrosanct that a public campaign against it is unacceptable?

    Let the marketplace decide Limbaugh’s fate, not an astroturf campaign run by the hypocritical phonies at Media Matters

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 11

  42. @WR:

    I didn’t support it but then again whether he was entitled to tenure was up to his employer, wasn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  43. (My phone doesn’t like “blog”.)

    And no Doug I won’t follow you into the weeds. As Anjin keeps telling you this is about Rush’s “right” to sell his product.

    In capitalism we are not obliged to buy crap we do not want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  44. bandit says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Calling people names on the internet – you must be so proud.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

  45. @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course you can try such a campaign. Of course it is a battle of public opinion. You have to make the case.

    Just as not everyone deserves a media empire, not every boycott flies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  46. CCR says:

    What about the aspect that Limbaugh’s show is on the “public” airwaves, where heaven forbid children will hear the “horrible” things he says. That argument was used against Howard Stern for years but now that he’s on a paid service, he can say whatever he wants and no one can force him off or fine him since people pay to listen to him. Just like when “Dr.” Laura was finally force to join Stern after she said the “N” word multiple times, perhaps one can make the arguement that if you are going to start saying stuff harsher than PG you can only do so on a paid service (note that Maher is now on paid cable channel HBO not free ABC network) If the FCC can go after Howard for telling “penis” jokes on the FM dial, perhaps Limbaugh should not be allowed to say “slut” on the AM.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  47. @john personna:

    Then don’t buy it. I’m not telling you that you’re obligated to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  48. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You don’t like boycotts and then say “let the marketplace decide,” as if choosing where and how to spend your money is not part of the marketplace.

    And, Doug, let’s not try to dismiss valid criticisms of your article by just dismissing everyone as Limbaugh haters who don’t understand your great wisdom. I am, as others are also doing is pointing out that your beliefs seem to be very plastic and what you will defend or oppose on any given day seems to change.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  49. @Doug Mataconis:

    Well, that is all the boycotts are doing, declining purchase and exercising free speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  50. steve says:

    Doug- As an aside, are their grounds for defamation in what Rush said?

    Also, I think limiting the use of a boycott would be a limitation on free speech. I think the best you can do is voice your opposition to a boycott, which you are doing. I think you now just need to step back and let the markets decide what they want to do.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  51. @James:

    There is a difference, I think, between a campaign that says “I am not going to buy products from Company X” because they advertise on a certain radio or TV show and a concerted effort, led by an organization with an obvious partisan bias like MMA, to pressure advertisers to drop their sponsorship in an effort to get someone off the air.

    Both are protected by the First Amendment. But, as I keep saying, there is something wrong in my opinion with a concerted effort to silence opposing points of view in the manner that this particular campaign has undertaken the effort.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  52. Nikki says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So,what I’m hearing you say is that you are all for the free market until it works in a manner that you don’t like, is that right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  53. @steve:

    Under the law? I would say probably not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  54. @Nikki:

    No. I am always for the free market.

    What I am saying is just because you can do something, that doesn’t mean you should do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  55. @john personna:

    Except that isn’t what this campaign has been about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  56. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I was actually referring to the right-wing crusade to have him fired. Apparently, it’s terrible to you if people suggest corporations stop buying ad time on Limbaugh’s show, but if right wing media organizes to have one public employee fired specifically for holding views they didn’t like, that isn’t “a concerted effort to silence opposing points of view.” That’s just his employers deciding — apparently completely on their own initiative and with no pressure from interest groups — to revoke one professor’s tenure.

    I see why you’re so fond of the false equivalencies here — you’ve got some troubles with real ones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  57. @Doug Mataconis:

    You are pretty tangled up. You don’t think Rush’s contributions are productive, but you object to liberal groups having the same idea. Goodness, was there ever a clearer example of “the enemy of my enemy?”

    It’s not like you are calling out Rush’s redeeming qualities, arguing his positive contributions.

    No you need him because “jerks” before liberals. That’s the whole message.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  58. Nikki says:

    Shutting down speech doesn’t solve problems, it just drives the speech underground.

    If the speech is being delivered from “underground,” then it hasn’t been shut down; it’s just been moved to a different venue. Rush is still free to say whatever the hell he wants. He just will have a new platform from which to work. Just as Howard Stern ended up on satellite radio.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  59. (Doug might also oppose boycotts because corporations should be allowed to be amoral. Responsibility is a threat. )

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  60. Scott says:

    I’m not sure I’ve ever read a post on this blog with which I agree. Until I read this one. You’re about 1 for 100. It’s a start.

    Limbaugh says something offensive. So what? He’s been doing it for 20 years. Sometimes people get their feelings hurt. Boo fricking hoo. If Steinam and Fonda’s feelings are so delicate, they shouldn’t be listening to Limbaugh. Of course, they never listen to Limbaugh. They just don’t want anybody else listening to him, either. They want to use Limbaugh’s “slut” reference to silence/censor a political opponent who happens to have the largest audience in all of radio and most of TV. Nearly all of whom are conservative Republicans.

    That is what is frightening. If they want to talk about Nazi analogies, they should look at their own actions. Because when their first instinct is to use the coercive force of government to silence the speech of someone who is a political opponent, it really is a totalitarian impulse. There’s no other way to describe it. What Steinam and Fonda want to do is far more repulsive and destructive to a free society than the most offensive words Limbaugh has ever uttered.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 25

  61. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Wonder if any of the “well the law may be dumb, but the law is the law” types we normally see in immigration threads are gonna jump in and demand that this law be enforced on the same grounds.

    Challenge accepted.

    If that is how the law is written, then hell yeah, enforce it. Let that sucker (the law) hauled before a judge and struck down as the blatantly unconstitutional piece of crap it is. Having a judge rule on it is the quickest way to get it off the books.

    On the other hand, the immigration laws are hardly unconstitutional. In fact, they’re a hell of a lot more Constitutional than a lot of Obama policies and actions are…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  62. Dazedandconfused says:

    In Doug’s defense, I think he is saying that organized campaigns to shut people down are unseemly, and attempts to use the courts to do so are bad.

    I agree with that, anyway. I have little objection with the “unseemly” in Rush’s case though. He tried to organize one against the Dixie Chicks himself. Since Rush is just an”entertainer”, as the politicians who are afraid to criticize hem like to say, “unseemly” ain’t a BFD.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  63. steve says:

    Doug- You mean I can go on the radio and call anyone I want a whore? To this layman it looks like it meets the 4 needed qualifications.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  64. Jenos Idanian says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Typical. A right wing nut engages in free speech and every body comes to his defense. A left winger engages in THEIR freedom of speech…. And suddenly there are questions of over-reach.

    I can put together a long list of right-wingers that have been the subjects of boycotts and threats (real and proposed). I don’t recall very many left-wingers being threatened with as such. Mostly, we just sigh and say “what assholes.”

    So, got any examples of how “my” side is the anti-free-speech side, and yours is the victim’s? As noted, Rush has been the target of a LOT of boycott talk, and now one VERY prominent liberal wants him arrested.

    And as far as retaliation against “average” people who speak up, I’d put what Ms. Fluke went through up against what “Joe The Plumber” did any day of the week. He had his private tax and other records gone through and exposed by Democratic activists for daring to ask Obama a question.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 16

  65. It’s obvious you never listen to Rush and clear you didn’t listen to the comments in question. Yes, they were improper, but barely. He simply made a questionable analogy. Something to the effect: Since She wants us to pay for her to have sex, doesn’t this define her as a slut? The hard left hypocrites (who apparently have a tremendous influence on your opinions) immediately replaced “slut” with Prostitute and “whore”. Limbaugh’s words paled in viciousness to the Left’s incessant and unprompted attacks on conservative women (IE) Maher calling Palin a “cunt”, attacking her daughter, etc. Your choice to label his apology as insincere further indicates your ignorant, elitist mind. If his apology is so self serving, then why don’t Leftists who’ve used vulgar language to verbally assault Bachmann, Palin and others countless times , make “self serving” apologies? It would serve you to listen to Limbaugh’s long explanation for his apology, saying he stooped to the Left’s level, pointing out how he’s never launches such personal attacks –which a is fact. If you had actually conducted some objective, independent, first hand research and not depended on hearsay – you wouldn’t sound so absurd.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 20

  66. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: I’m wondering what you thought about Ward Churchill being hounded out of academia for saying mean things about the people in the twin towers.

    Wow, what a surprise. WR. oversimplifies a matter to obscure the truth.

    Churchill’s statements didn’t get him “hounded out of academia.” His statements got him what he wanted — which was attention. Sadly for him, that scrutiny exposed him as a major fraud — a plagiarist and a liar about his ethnic heritage (he claimed falsely to be part Indian). It was those frauds that got him (justly) fired.

    (OK, now I’m just poking people with a stick here.) Kind of like how Clinton wasn’t impeached over a blowjob, but for lying under oath about the blowjob. If he’d just told the truth about it, he’d have been denounced and mocked and ridiculed. But throw in the perjury, and he was denounced and mocked and ridiculed and impeached.

    Churchill got everything he deserved. Sadly, he got it only after years of chicanery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  67. steve says:

    Rush did call her a prostitute. This is easy to look up.

    “LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  68. steve says:

    Doug- Left of center pundits like Olbermann and Maher and Schultz got suspended or fired for their comments. Is that a more appropriate response than a boycott?

    Steve

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  69. Spartacus says:

    So Doug’s essential point seems to be that everyone has the right to pressure advertisers to pull their support of Limbaugh, but no one should exercise that right because it will then drive Limbaugh’s hateful speech underground. But what exactly is wrong with letting the marketplace (via boycotts) drive hateful speech underground?

    Is the country really worse off today because people don’t publicly use racial epithets to describe minorities? There was a time when that kind of conduct was acceptable in some parts of the country. Today it is not, and most people would say that is a clear improvement.

    Doug’s “argument” is extremely weak, at best.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  70. Nikki says:

    Doug, blame Media Matters all you want, but this boycott was beyond their capabilities. Perhaps they should be flattered that you think they could bring the big guy down all by themselves.

    I assume you are unaware of the letter from Premiere Network (distributor of Limbaugh’s show) where 98 big name advertisers have “specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).”

    As often as Limbaugh has said repulsive things over the last 20 years, for the advertisers to take such a stand means the backlash was massive and involved many, many more than online media could rally on its own. In the letter posted on Carbonite’s website, the CEO stated that he had never seen a reaction such as this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  71. Scott says:

    @@Conservalidity: Seems to me that what happens is the exact opposite of what happened. The words Rush used were defamatory. The conversation that has occurred has conflated name calling with actual accusations and lies. There is a huge difference between calling Ms Fluke an actual round-heeled slut who has sex all the time on the taxpayers dollar and calling someone a name such as fame whore or attention slut. Rush called Fluke an actual slut slut. This is not both sides do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  72. Anonne says:

    It might be ugly but the boycott is the free market at work. You and Rush will just have to deal; as was said before, he is not entitled to be on the air.

    Pursuing legal action, other than a defamation lawsuit from Sandra Fluke herself, is underhanded and that is about the extent to which I will agree with you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  73. anjin-san says:

    silence political speech

    Really Doug, are you an idiot, or are you just playing one on a blog? One of the most powerful men in the country calls a young woman a slut and a prostitute, and says she should be forced to make sex tapes for him to watch. He says it to millions of people. Thousands of them immediately parrot his message on right wing blogs across the country.

    He savaged her because she dared to express legitimate political speech that he did not like. Now in the minds (such as they are) of countless people in this country, Sandra Fluke is a slut, a prostitute.

    HTF is that “political speech”? I eagerly await your next serving of pretzel logic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  74. captain obvious says:

    A 30 year old “student” getting a $200k education demanding that religious schools pay for her to get her slut on counts as “legitimate”?

    When you testify in front of Congress you make yourself a truly legitimate target. I seem to recall one Joe the Plumber having the temerity to ask Obama about redistributing people’s wealth and him having Ohio Democrat officials illegally scouring over his records and plumbing license.

    For asking a question to a politician trolling for votes in his neighborhood.

    Truly, when you scratch a liberal you find a nazi. Do remember your readership Mr. Mataconis.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 22

  75. Steve V says:

    Didn’t Bill O’Reilly make a living throughout the 2000s urging boycotts against lefty speech he found offensive? Who says the right doesn’t boycott??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  76. Tlaloc says:

    All I am saying is that a concerted effort to get someone off the air because you don’t like the content of their speech troubles me.

    Isn’t that the only good reason to want someone off the air- because the content of their speech is offensive?

    I have no problem with boycotts to try and get sponsors to drop Limbaugh (or whomever) but I do draw the line at FCC intervention. That’s when you actually get into censorship as opposed to the free market economics the right is currently calling censorship…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  77. michael reynolds says:

    Both Maher and Mataconis are talking nonsense. I understand why Maher is doing it.

    Limbaugh is in effect a paid employee of his sponsors. You could analogize it to the relationship between Newt Gingrich and Sheldon Adelson. The money comes from the sponsors, therefore the access comes from the sponsors, therefore the speech itself is a product created by the sponsors.

    If I know that Company X produces toxic waste and dumps it in playgrounds, can I boycott Company X as a means of pressuring them to stop? Of course I can. If I know that Company X produces tainted meat can I boycott them until they agree to stop? Of course.

    Well, these companies dump a toxic product — hate speech. It’s ridiculous to argue that I must only respond to the specific toxic product and not hold the producer more broadly responsible. Can I hold the Catholic church broadly responsible for priests who molest children? Can I hold the Castro regime – which does some good — responsible more broadly because its secret police carry out torture? Of course.

    A company that does bad things is a company that must be made to feel the pain of doing bad things.

    As for Media Matters, I participated in pushing the boycott via Reddit. Had nothing to do with MM.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  78. Commonist says:

    If they can hurt him without breaking a law, go ahead. If they can destroy his influence and livelihood without breaching his constitutional rights, why not.

    All this talk about ‘free speech’ is excitable piffle. If getting him off the airwaves is against the constitution, then he is protected. If not, anything goes. The law is the limit here, not any pathetic babble about ‘decency’ and ‘not trying to silence people who disagree with you tsk tsk’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  79. Patrick says:

    I can’t resist adding my take to the “debate”. I am of the opinion that pressuring advertisers is perfectly legit but that legal action; be it the courts or the FCC, is out of bounds.

    Both Michael and Steve have made compelling arguments to defend pressuring advertisers and I need not add to it. As for the threat of law suits, they will most probably just stay threats or be laughed out of court if filled.

    It is hilarious to me to see the shock jocks defending their peers thereby highlighting the hypocrisy of their industry. Their business has nothing to do with defending freedom of speech but everything to do with profiting from it. They take the mantel of court jesters talking truth to power but are in reality courtiers.

    The art of the courtier is to seduce and provoke while staying in ones place. Limbaugh forgot the latter and pays the price.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  80. michael reynolds says:

    It’s not just for Limbaugh anymore.

    Clear Channel’s syndication unit Premiere Networks gave its sales force a list of 98 companies — including major auto makers, insurance companies, and restaurant chains — that want to avoid “environments likely to stir negative sentiment from a very small percentage of the listening public,” according to a memo obtained by Radio-Info.com, a trade news site. And lest there be any doubt, the order says: “They’ve specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).” Companies asking to avoid those shows included Ford, GM, Toyota, Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm, McDonald’s, and Subway.

    For some reason McDonalds does not want to be known for its Big Mac N’ Hate Combo.

    It’s about time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  81. anjin-san says:

    led by an organization with an obvious partisan bias like MMA

    I’ve spent about 10 seconds in my entire life thinking about Media Matters. I do not need anyone to tell me that Limbaugh went way over the line, and I don’t need anyone to ask me to drop a friendly note or two to his sponsors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  82. Rick Almeida says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Doug Mataconis:

    Shorter Doug:

    I get really uneasy when the little people work together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  83. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: I remember the good old days when “hate” actually meant something, and not just “non-liberals who occasionally say mean things.” The SPLC (which has done wonders at fighting poverty — among its employees, mainly) has its latest list of “hate groups.” Tons of Christian-themed groups, but not a single Muslim-themed one. And one “hate group” is a bunch of pickup artists who swap ways to seduce women.

    The Left overused “racist” to the point where it became a joke and a point of pride to be called a “RAAAAACIST!!!!1111!!!1!” — that’s when you knew you’d gotten under a liberal’s skin. Now you’re well on your way to doing the same with “hate.”

    Hey, michael, I could use a little money. Could you tip me off to the next liberal buzzword that will be overused to death? Tell me, and I’ll head on over to InTrade and make a killing. I’ll give you a cut. I promise. You can trust me. Honest. I’m not a liberal…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 19

  84. @michael reynolds:

    Of course the vast majority of the companies listed in Avlon’s article have never advertised on those types of programs to begin with. That’s their choice, of course. Businesses that have wide customer bases tend to eschew controversy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  85. DRS says:

    Look at it this way Doug: the boycott isn’t against Limbaugh’s free speech – it’s against the paid speech he gets $50 million a year for. Does that help?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  86. steve says:

    For those interested, best explanation I have seen about why this is not defamation.

    http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2012/no-sandra-fluke-does-not-have-valid-defamation-claim-against-rush-limbaugh

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  87. W.D. says:

    If the boycott campaigns are conceded to be free speech, then Doug is engaged in a campaign to suppress free speech. Because it’s distasteful to him. Seems like on its own terms, this argument is a non-starter. The impoverished moral vocabulary of libertarians leads to absurdities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  88. WD,

    I don’t wish to suppress anything. They have a right to do whatever they wish.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  89. G.A. says:

    Rush Limbaugh is loud, offensive, and abrasive. I don’t like him. However, to borrow a phrase, I will defend to the death his right to say what he says. And so should anyone else who believes in free speech.

    hey…..enough said….

    Good job Doug…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  90. G.A. says:

    Truly, when you scratch a liberal you find a nazi. Do remember your readership Mr. Mataconis.

    Been saying this for years….lol….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  91. Moosebreath says:

    Rick Almeida has it right. Doug has no problem with the 1% working together on messages that promote their interests. But when the 99% do that, he is up in arms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  92. Reviewing the thread this morning, it’s clear that Doug and others only say they are defending Rush’s free speech, when what they are really defending is his bully pulpit.

    If consumers convince advertisers to pull back, that will not reduce Rush’s ability to say or write whatever he wants. He has a rushlimbaugh.com, after all.

    No, for some reason Doug does not want the power of Rush’s message reduced. He calls anything less than “umpty-ump megawatts of airwaves” being “driven underground.”

    WTF man.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  93. @Moosebreath:

    My response would be the same if conservatives engaged in a similar effort directed at any of the hosts on MSNBC, or Al Gore’s silly little TV network

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  94. @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course you would, because what you are really about is freedom from responsibility. You believe corporations should not have responsibilities toward civility.

    I mean, if CocaCola can make money backing incivility, we can’t blame CocaCola. They are only about the soft drinks, after all.

    (you’ve got this inverted value system where the right to be a jerk is more important than the right to behave constructively)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  95. John,

    No. I believe in the value of free speech, even when I disagree with what’s being said. And I don’t believe in a heckler’s veto.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  96. Ben Wolf says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Rick Almeida has it right. Doug has no problem with the 1% working together on messages that promote their interests. But when the 99% do that, he is up in arms.

    I’m sure Doug will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s arguing that no matter what side he’s on, the side which wins in a manner most consistent with constitutional and civil liberties deserves to win. If you’ll listen with an open mind you might realize Doug’s message is consistently less partisan than many here appear capable or willing to comprehend.

    I once thought he was an apologist for the powerful too, until I actually did what a liberal is supposed to do and put aside my anti-libertarian preconceptions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  97. Moosebreath says:

    Doug,

    “My response would be the same if conservatives engaged in a similar effort directed at any of the hosts on MSNBC, or Al Gore’s silly little TV network”

    Sure it would. We all know how often you’ve denounced the efforts over the years against people ranging from the Dixie Chicks or Bill Maher. Why the number of posts attacking the regular efforts to demonize anything connected to George Soros stretches almost to single digits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  98. Moosebreath says:

    Ben,

    “I’m sure Doug will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s arguing that no matter what side he’s on, the side which wins in a manner most consistent with constitutional and civil liberties deserves to win.”

    I’m sure Doug is arguing this. On the other hand, his practice is very different than his words.

    “If you’ll listen with an open mind you might realize Doug’s message is consistently less partisan than many here appear capable or willing to comprehend.”

    Thank you, but I am quite capable of reading Doug’s posts and seeing what message shines through them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  99. @Doug Mataconis:

    You did it again.

    You pretended that everyone deserves a bully pulpit or they have no free speech.

    Either you are dumb, or you think everyone else is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  100. John,

    I said what I said in the post. It’s either understood or it isn’t. Don’t like Limbaugh? Don’t listen to him. I sure don’t. The only thing I said is that concerted efforts to target people because of their content of their speech trouble me and strike as being inconsistent with the values embodied in the First Amendment.

    You obviously disagree, but I’m not going to ask anyone to campaign to shut you up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  101. Brummagem Joe says:

    The problem with first amendments arguments and the entire Voltairean stance (with which I’m philosophically empathetic) is that they need to tempered by circumstances. An absolute right to say anything has some limits surely. Or does Doug want to defend hate speech? In fact I think a few people have been booted off this blog for going over this particular line. And you could argue that Limbaugh’s comments were a form of hate speech. Calling a private citizen a slut and prostitute who should be required to give live sex shows on TV doesn’t sound all that different from some sexually oriented anti semitic or anti black slurs I’ve heard or read. As a practical matter it depends.

    or Al Gore’s silly little TV network

    And of course Doug is not now nor ever has been a supporter of the Republican party. LOL. You’re as transparent as glass Doug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  102. @Brummagem Joe:

    Have you ever actually watched Current TV? The whole thing looks like it originates from some guy’s basement in Secaucus and it has an audience smaller than MSNBC, if that’s actually possible.

    Also, it was a joke. Lighten up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  103. @Doug Mataconis:

    There is no campaign to “shut up” Rush Limbaugh.

    If there was, it would look quite a bit different.

    Where are the calls to block limbaugh.com?

    Either you are dumb, or you think everyone else is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  104. Ben Wolf says:

    The problem with first amendments arguments and the entire Voltairean stance (with which I’m philosophically empathetic) is that they need to tempered by circumstances.

    And that’s the problem, that some think themselves wise enough to decide arbitrarily where someone else’s rights should end. Limbaugh’s comments didn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights and therefore there’s absolutely no reason to limit his right to repeat them in the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  105. (There is a campaign to de-power Rush Limbaugh, but again that is something very different than what you are claiming. You are essentially arguing that Limbaugh must keep all his power, and that incivility should not impact his power.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  106. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    A 30 year old “student” getting a $200k education demanding that religious schools pay for her to get her slut on counts as “legitimate”?

    At one point try to look at reality without the filter of right-wing dittoheads. It might be a revelation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  107. PJ says:

    Corporations should be allowed to sponsor people and programs without having to suffer economically from it.
    AND
    Corporations should be allowed to give money to candidates and influence elections without having to suffer economically from it.

    Is that what this is all about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  108. michael reynolds says:

    What’s being targeted is a product: a radio show. Paid for by sponsors for the purpose of selling other products.

    Limbaugh’s free speech is not affected. The first amendment is not affected. Consumers have a right to say they’d rather not do business with those who finance hate speech.

    We’ve had a long few decades of right-wingers carrying out sponsorship boycotts, most recently an attempt to get JC Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres for the crime of being gay. Well, guess what? Two can play that game. If the right can boycott to support hate, we can boycott to stop it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  109. Brainster says:

    Latest sign that the apocalypse is upon us: Hanoi Jane Fonda decrying somebody for using hate speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  110. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, it was a joke. Lighten up.”

    Actually Doug you’re the one that needs to lighten up…or did you miss the LOL. Anyway it enabled you to ignore the substance of my comment which addressed the central flaw in your argument. All speech is not protected either legally or on this blog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  111. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    And that’s the problem, that some think themselves wise enough to decide arbitrarily where someone else’s rights should end.

    Obviously you have no problems with hate speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  112. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Limbaugh’s comments didn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights and therefore there’s absolutely no reason to limit his right to repeat them in the future.

    And no one is preventing him from repeating them in the future. Advertisers are making an economic decision to withdraw support from his show.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  113. I wonder what Scott Beauchamp thinks about this. Or that kid working for minimum wage at Walmart who got fired because he wasn’t properly deferential to the words “Merry Christmas.” Or that kid working the phones at whatever station who made the joke about the X briefly appearing over Cheney’s face and got fired? Or the photographer who took the pictures of Cheney’s estate, with his permission? Or Graeme Frost?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  114. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    All speech is not protected either legally or on this blog.

    Btw before anyone jumps all over me I’m well aware that the US is more or less unique in the developed world in allowing hate speech as a legal doctrine but in practice there are many restrictions on it in the workplace, in schools or even on lowly blogs like this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  115. Herb says:

    Hmm…a big part of free speech is that you have the right to say it, but you have to live with the consequences. Every husband who fibbed a response to “Does this make my butt look big?” knows what I’m talking about. I don’t expect any of these lawsuits to proceed. They’re absurd on their face, and do the people bringing them even have standing?

    Anyway, the advertiser boycott concerns me even less. That’s fighting free speech with more free speech.

    I don’t like how this has suddenly become about rights, though. Let’s take it for granted that Rush has a right to produce his show. So what? The advertisers have the right to pull out if they don’t like what they’re hearing. People have the right to sue. What this “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend blah blah” only applies to Rush? No defense of people’s right to sue?

    It’s easy to defend rights in the abstract, and that’s why everyone pledges their life to the cause. Defend the specifics, though. Try it this way, “I defend people’s right to sue, but these lawsuits are frivolous.” Or for Rush, “I defend Rush’s right to speak, but maybe he should become a cab driver or a barber, instead.” Where in the Constitution does it say you have a right to an audience?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  116. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Shorter Jenos: “Whatever means are used to silence the left are good. Meanwhile, the left is so mean to us real Americans. Waah.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  117. @john personna:

    You have every right to avoid those you do want to avoid, however there is no right to not be offended. If you don’t want to be offended, don’t listen to him or whoever else is on that offends you. If enough people do so they will eventually go away. (I mean look at nearly every liberal talk show host I’ve run across, none of them are still on the air on radio)

    And if we want to really get to a place where we can have civil discourse, it will only happen if each side chastises those seen to be on the same side as them. Left going against right will only embolden the right. Right going against left will only embolden the left. I personally think that we are past the possibility of overall civil discourse, and that its been the exception and not the rule when we have had it in the past. The differences are simply too vast to ever truly do so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  118. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “The Left overused “racist” to the point where it became a joke and a point of pride to be called a “RAAAAACIST!!!!1111!!!1!” ”

    It’s pretty impressive that the former JWest has managed to avoid using his signature whine this long. But here he stands exposed. Now he’ll start defending slave holders as the only real Americans again.

    Welcome back, JWest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  119. WR says:

    @steve: I was interested, so I clicked over. I read until the author talked about “moronic proles who got butthurt” suing their betters, and realized whoever this was, it wasn’t an objective legal opinion. Once he opined that by testifying to congress Fluke made herself a public figure and thus fair game for being called a whore, it was pretty clear this was not going to answer any actual legal questions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  120. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Have you ever actually watched Current TV? The whole thing looks like it originates from some guy’s basement in Secaucus and it has an audience smaller than MSNBC, if that’s actually possible. ”

    Because, of course, the only speech worth listening to is that which comes with millions of dollars of production value provided by corporate commercials and which millions of other people are listening to. In other words, if it don’t come from billionaires, it’s worthless. Libertarian philosophy strikes again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  121. WR,

    Do you guys have any understanding of humor? Like I said to Joe, it was a joke.

    That said, I’ve got to said the content on Current leaves much to be desired. Cenk Uyger? Seriously?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  122. MBunge says:

    Let’s stop talking in theory and face reality. Andrew Sullivan has come out against the Rush backlash by saying we should fight “bad speech” with “good speech” and nothing more. Well, isn’t that exactly what we’ve been doing with Rush and his kind for over 20 years now? How has that approach worked out?

    “Good speech” only triumphs over “bad speech” when each are recognized as what they are and treated accordingly. When people engage in “bad speech” over and over again without consequences, when a section of the public applauds “bad speech” repeatedly without a reaction from the rest, how precisely is that “bad speech” every to be defeated?

    Nuje

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  123. captain obvious says:

    This would be the same Andrew Sullivan who has been peddling that Pain’s son Trig is actually her grandson.

    Because we’re discussing silencing Rush Limbaugh for defaming people and boycotting advertisers who frequent purveyors of out of bounds, unhelpful hate spech and bizarre conspiracy theories.

    Mote meet eye.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  124. Jib says:

    There is a difference, I think, between a campaign that says “I am not going to buy products from Company X” because they advertise on a certain radio or TV show and a concerted effort, led by an organization with an obvious partisan bias like MMA, to pressure advertisers to drop their sponsorship in an effort to get someone off the air.

    You are complaining because the boycott was successful. Boycotts are called by partisan groups all the time, constantly. Look at the one against JC Penny for being pro-gay (I know it was not that but I dont want to go into details, it does not matter).

    It failed because no one gave a damn.

    The one against Rush is succeeding because people, real people, average folks, are offended by what he said and letting their voices be heard.

    The partisan group does not matter in this case, they are just band-waggoning onto this. They see something happening out there and jump in and say ‘Look! People are following us’. It is BS, people were doing it on their own. Giving Media Matters credit on this means you are falling for their PR.

    This is a grassroots rejection of a major media figure for what he said. This is democracy, this is the free market, this is people voting with their wallet.

    This is America.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  125. Nikki says:

    @captain obvious: Um…did you actually read what MBunge wrote? Sullivan. like Doug, OPPOSES the boycott, yet you still feel the need to slime him. Partisan much?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  126. Dean says:

    Wonder how the comments would have changed had Doug written the same article, but in defense of Randi Rhoads who said the following on her radio show about Monica Crowley and other conservative women:

    “You know, these women, somebody really needs to go repossess their ovaries. really, truly, they have no right to them. They are fabulous, little organs and they have absolutely no right to be estrogen-bearing beings. Okay? Just cut ‘em off, let ‘em go through the hot flashes, let ‘em just sit there and complain about hormone therapy, okay? Just take the ovaries and get it over with. Because they don’t deserve to have estrogen. They really don’t. It’s a privilege. You know, these women, somebody really needs to go repossess their ovaries. Really, truly, they have no right to them. They are fabulous, little organs and they have absolutely no right to be estrogen-bearing beings. Okay? Just cut ‘em off, let ‘em go through the hot flashes, let ‘em just sit there and complain about hormone therapy, okay? Just take the ovaries and get it over with. Because they don’t deserve to have estrogen. They really don’t. It’s a privilege.”

    I don’t agree with Limbaugh, I don’t agree with Rhoads, but I agree even less with a concerted effort to block free speech. What may eventually happen is that advertisers will stay away completely from any political speech, because they don’t want to be caught in any firestrom that will damage their brand. How much more damaging would that be?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  127. Nikki says:

    @Jib: Loved your comment except for this excerpt:

    The partisan group does not matter in this case, they are just band-waggoning onto this. They see something happening out there and jump in and say ‘Look! People are following us’. It is BS, people were doing it on their own. Giving Media Matters credit on this means you are falling for their PR.

    Media Matters isn’t taking credit for the success of the boycott; Doug’s using MM’s partisanship to justify his butthurt that a boycott from the center left is working.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  128. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Do you guys have any understanding of humor? Like I said to Joe, it was a joke.

    I wonder if you do Doug? I made a very obvious one about you and we get a rejoinder about how small is the audience of MSNBC for godsake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  129. Nikki says:

    How much more damaging would that be?

    None at all. No support of political speech means no chance to offend your clientele. How is that a problem?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  130. @steve:

    best explanation I have seen about why this is not defamation

    It seems to me it would not be defamation as a pretty straight forward application of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  131. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dean:

    I don’t agree with Limbaugh, I don’t agree with Rhoads, but I agree even less with a concerted effort to block free speech.

    No one is making a concerted effort to block free speech. This is the flaw in the entire Doug, Sullivan case. Free speech is a two way street. Now what Limbaugh said clearly breached the boundaries of good taste and propriety but he had a perfect right to say it. But equally those opposed to him have the right to use their powers of free speech to rouse public opinion against him. And advertisers have the right to make an economic decision to withdraw their support from his program on the economic grounds that people may buy less of their products or their brand may be damaged. Now if you or other conservatives want to make use of your powers of free speech to rouse public opinion against Rhandi Rhoad (btw who is she?) you’re perfectly entitled to. No one is stopping you. This is how free speech works.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  132. Jib says:

    @Dean: I would feel exactly the same way I do about Limbaugh. This is NOT any attempt to stop speech. Randi and Rush have all the free speech they want.

    What neither Randi nor Rush has is a constitutional right to get paid to put on a radio show. If they piss off enough people they will lose their job. Guess what, so will I or you or anyone else.

    And once we are fired, we can still post on blogs like this, or run our own blog or stand on a street corner and howl at the moon. THAT IS FREE SPEECH. A radio show is a job and you can lose your job by being an asshole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  133. Dean says:

    @Jib: Just want to make sure I understand your point. Gloria Allred and company saying Limbaugh should be off the air or arrested is not an effort to try to limit free speech?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  134. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Do you guys have any understanding of humor? Like I said to Joe, it was a joke.”

    Maybe I’ve been misinformed all my life. I was taught that a joke was supposed to be funny. I just can’t figure out why I’m supposed to laugh at “Wow, Current TV is lousy.” And this isn’t about politics — “Wow, Fox News is crummy” also fails to elicit those elusive guffaws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  135. WR says:

    @Dean: “What may eventually happen is that advertisers will stay away completely from any political speech, because they don’t want to be caught in any firestrom that will damage their brand. How much more damaging would that be? ”

    You mean radio might go back to broadcasting music? Or offering alternative points of view? Oh, yes, crushing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  136. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dean:

    Gloria Allred and company saying Limbaugh should be off the air or arrested is not an effort to try to limit free speech?

    Now you want to limit Allred’s right to free speech?. According to your logic Limbaugh has the right to call someone a slut but Allred doesn’t have the right to demand he be taken off the air. Do you understand that free speech cuts both ways?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  137. Scott says:

    People arguing that the boycott of Rush is the free market at work miss the mark by a wide margin.

    The advertisers have contracted with Rush to provide listeners to receive their advertising message. Rush delivered. In spades. I’ve neither heard nor read any credible accounts that his audience is bailing out on him in any meaningful way. In fact, it’s probably increased as every blogger, columnist, cable news show, network news, and talk radio show greedily listen to him daily so they can provide content about the controversy for their own outlets. But I digress.

    If it is true Rush’s audience size has not declined, then he continues to fulfill his side of the bargain of providing an audience to his advertisers. He’s delivering exactly what they contracted for as he promised. So, from a pure economic perspective, there’s no reason for any advertiser to want to withdraw their support.

    But advertisers ARE withdrawing support. Why? Because people who are NOT part of Rush’s audience very quickly organized a boycott effort to interfere in the relationship between the advertiser and Rush. And make no mistake, it is 100% purely political. Nobody’s sensibilities are so frail in this day and age of obscene rap music lyrics, chain saw massacre movie plots, and novels with over the top plots that hearing the word slut sends them into a tizzy. It’s absurd and insults our intelligence to suggest as much.

    So, the free market would be working if advertisers were voluntarily withdrawing their support because the size of Rush’s audience was voluntarily contracting. If Rush failed to deliver the number of listeners the advertisers expected (or if those listeners did not translate into sales), then the advertisers withdrawing support would be a free market response. But that is not what has happened. Instead, we’ve got third party actors with no economic interest at stake in the contractual relationship between Rush his advertisers or his audience (no privity of contract) who are interfering in that contractual relationship. Sure they can bully the advertisers. And it’s been effective. But it’s not an example of the market working. It just shows how risk averse and weak the advertisers are to bullying tactics that they’d rather succumb to the pressure of the bullies than defend their right to freely contract with whomever they choose.

    ==================

    I see people talking about so called “hate speech”. Hate speech is a liberal invention designed to give a special status to groups that liberals deem are more worthy of legal protection than the population at large (gays, minorities, women – basically white liberals believe that everybody who is not a straight white male deserve a special legal protection). We have lots of laws to regulate speech without creating special “hate speech” laws. They’re usually torts, like slander, libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc. But there’s also anti-fraud statutes and elements of contracual law that prohibit material misrepresentations. And others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

  138. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Scott:

    People arguing that the boycott of Rush is the free market at work miss the mark by a wide margin….So, the free market would be working if advertisers were voluntarily withdrawing their support because the size of Rush’s audience was voluntarily contracting.

    This entire rationale misses the mark by a wide margin because it ignores the fundamental fact that the political, social and economic are constantly interacting in free societies and markets. If for any reason (social, political or economic) a marketer perceives potential damage to his sales or reputation he’s entitled to protect his interests.

    Hate speech is a liberal invention….We have lots of laws to regulate speech without creating special “hate speech” laws. They’re usually torts, like slander, libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc.

    This is hilarious. Hate speech doesn’t exist, it’s a liberal invention, but we have lots of laws that regulate it. Of course it exists and it’s usually directed at minorities but I agree that in practice it is constrained by many laws but they are usually ones of property or public order and not the ones mentioned by our legal and economic expert.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  139. anjin-san says:

    The advertisers have contracted with Rush to provide listeners to receive their advertising message.

    I think it’s safe to say you have zero real world experience with advertising, brand management, and corporate sponsorship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  140. al-Ameda says:

    I definitely hope that Rush keeps speaking his mind about contraception, birth control and women’s reproductive rights – it’s been of great assistance to the campaign to re-elect the president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  141. steve says:

    Corporate sponsors bailed when Tiger had his issues. Same here. When you say controversial things, you risk crossing the boundary between what is hyperbole and bring in more revenue, vs what is insulting and causes advertisers to leave. I think everyone who makes their living in the public media, including Sullivan, would like to be immune to any economic consequences from anything they say, but that is not how the world works.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  142. An Interested Party says:

    Free Speech doesn’t require sponsers to pony up for it…

    Lighten up.

    You would do well to follow your own advice…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  143. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san: I think that 99% of the visitors to the Media Matters website are conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  144. An Interested Party says:

    Calling people names on the internet – you must be so proud.

    Pots…kettles…stones…glass houses…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  145. @Joshua Saunders:

    For what it’s worth, I think your post was pretty civil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  146. (And remember, while I tend to criticize the right, that’s because I’m like an ex-smoker. It’s about what I used to be. Actually not quite. I was an old-school conservative, one who actually believed the “compassionate” part. The new right gets under my skin like nothing else. I don’t pay terribly much attention to any leftist bad actors you claim, but I certainly don’t read or listen to them either. If you think any of them have gone beyond the pale and want to boycott them, tear it up. Of course the Dixie Chicks thing is kind of a caution on that. You might stop to note that they were f’n right. You’ve only now caught up.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  147. Tillman says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Limbaugh’s comments didn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights and therefore there’s absolutely no reason to limit his right to repeat them in the future.

    Who is limiting his right to repeat his comments? Depriving him of the money to run a radio show is hardly denying him the ability to speak. The right of free speech is not the right to a wide audience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  148. Tillman says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The only thing I said is that concerted efforts to target people because of their content of their speech trouble me and strike as being inconsistent with the values embodied in the First Amendment.

    The values of the First Amendment would necessarily only concern government attempts to limit the free speech of citizens. Those values concern autocratic government protecting itself from its own citizenry, not that citizenry ‘policing’ itself of unwanted and hateful speech.

    I get Maher’s, Sullivan’s, and your apprehension about this, but it seems horrifically misplaced. When someone says something no one wants to hear (for whatever reason), it is imperative on them, if they wish to avoid pariahdom, to frame it persuasively, either through amicable rhetoric or eloquent reason. The right to free speech does not also entail a freedom from the consequences of that speech, as has been said over and over again in this thread.

    You speak of being troubled about concerted efforts to silence speech, but it appears to me that concerted efforts are usually the way this has gone about. I imagine it was the concerted efforts of one group or another that changed ‘nigger’ to ‘the N word.’ Are we free to say nigger? Yes, we are. Should we be free to say nigger in public without consequence? Hell no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  149. Tillman says:

    I actually have a comment in moderation right now because some groups concerted their efforts about one particular kind of free speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  150. @Tillman:

    And again, my argument isn’t a legal one. Legally, this effort to pressure advertisers is protected speech.

    However, as I’ve said in several comments already, I do not like the idea of a “heckler’s veto,” and I despise the entire “political correctness” meme and the way in which it has been used to silence unapproved speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  151. Jared says:

    @steve:
    I think Rush and BIll Maher are both tools. I’m personally OK with people encouraging advertisers to pull there content. If I owned a big business I wouldn’t really want to be associated with something controversial on either side unless my product really targeted that group. I totally disagree with this call to file petitions with the FCC to take him off the air because he doesn’t offer anything to communities. That is a very dangerous precedent to set right there, scary.
    The guys a tool making millions just like Maher. You should fact check what you hear on all of these extreme peoples shows, because most of it is untrue or an extreme exaggeration. The real problem is ignorant people that actually believe what he is talking about. He’s more of an entertainer than anything, so treat it that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  152. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Legally, this effort to pressure advertisers is protected speech.

    So you agree with me

    However, as I’ve said in several comments already, I do not like the idea of a “heckler’s veto,” and I despise the entire “political correctness” meme and the way in which it has been used to silence unapproved speech.

    Calling a private citizen on the airwaves a slut and prostitute and suggesting she should be required to perform sex shows on TV is not by the remotest stretch of the imagination a debate about political correctness. No one is more opposed to PC than me but calling this egregious breach of taste and propriety a matter of PC is bizarre.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  153. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Jared:

    He’s more of an entertainer than anything, so treat it that way.

    The entertainer label as applied to Limbaugh is nonsense. His content is almost entirely political and as everyone over the age of ten knows he’s a major force in the Republican party. Are all these other rightwing radio crazies like Levin and Hewitt just entertainers as well?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  154. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: Thanks for confirming once again, WR, that you’re absolutely cool with frauds and plagiarists just as long as they’re suitably liberal. No sins are too great as long as your leftist credentials are in order.

    No great surprise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  155. LC says:

    So your only problem is that the boycott is organized? Or because it is organized by an org you dislike?

    So it is ok for me to ask a sponsor to stop supporting a program, but it is bad if I ask my neighbors to join me? And worse if I use public media to organize more than my neighbors?

    You did object to the “million moms” campaign against JCP for employing Ellen Degeneress?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  156. Tillman says:

    @Doug Mataconis: ‘Political correctness’ is just a euphemism for ‘avoid taboos.’ Avoiding taboos so you can talk without being silenced? That’s a fact of human existence. It’s called society ’cause we have to be social to one another.

    Also, could you explain what you mean by ‘heckler’s veto’? I’m not sure I, and probably many others, quite understand where you’re coming from with that phrase.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  157. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I didn’t call you a fraud, just because you used to post here under the name JWest and praise slaveholders as the only real Americans, and I didn’t call you a plagiarist, even though you’ve stolen your new name from George Lucas. So I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about. Which, I suspect, makes two of us.

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  158. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: Your addle-brained nature is even worse than I thought. I was referring to Ward Churchill, the professor you specifically cited as being fired for his poltiical beliefs. In reality, he was fired for countless academic offenses, from plagiarism to fraud.

    You’re wrong about everything else, too. For one, George Lucas didn’t create my pen name, but Ann Crispin. It makes me wonder if “WR” is not your initials, but an admission of “Warped Reality.” ‘Cuz what you say bears no resemblance to reality whatsoever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  159. Gloria Hutson says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I don’t know. Glen Beck is still around, he may be harder to find, but he is still around to exercise his freedom of speech. I hope Limbaugh pays out his pocket book for his divisive rhetoric. In Limbaugh’s case, his politician cronies did nothing to shut him up and even used him to push their own agendas. I agree a lawsuit is the wrong way to go. However, pressuring advertisers by consumers is a valid option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  160. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Gloria Hutson: Noted non-hate group The Nation of Islam is taking a break from their non-hateful intimidation of voters and calls for genocide to go after Glenn Beck now. I love the totally non-Antisemitic epithet they used on him — “minion of the synagogue of Satan.” You’ll never hear that from low-grade idiots like WR, who has not a trace of poetry in his soul.

    And remember: the Nation of Islam calling Obama a “murderer” and an “assassin” and their calls for white genocide don’t make them a “hate group.” The SPLC says so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  161. G.A. says:

    I love the totally non-Antisemitic epithet they used on him — “minion of the synagogue of Satan.”

    Muslims…Sigh….

    Man if we could only turn lib hate, delusion and confusion into energy….

    I’m thinking matrix batteries lol……

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  162. MarkedMan says:

    Jenos, if you want to start up a boycott of the Nation of Islam and any radio show they sponsor, I’ll be happy to join you. If they have a radio show themselves, I’ll be happy not to buy things from the advertisers. I also promise not to buy those pies they sell. Now will you join me in boycotting Rush’s sponsors?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  163. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: I’d never organize a boycott against the Nation of Islam, not even of their “Your Black Muslim Bakery.” I’d rather they be criminally investigated and charged with voter intimidation, incitement to riot, terrorism, and a host of other crimes. Hell, their official spokesman called for… well, let’s let Khalid Muhammed’s own words about white people speak for him:

    “We kill the women. We kill the children. We kill the babies. We kill the blind. We kill the crippled. We kill the [imitates a crazy person]. We kill ‘em all. We kill the faggots. We kill the lesbians. We kill them all.”

    By the way, Khalid Muhammed was closely associated with Professor Derrick Bell, Obama’s college mentor. And Mr. Muhammed was given a high place in the Nation of Islam by Louis Farrakhan, who was a staunch supporter of Obama until he started making veiled threats against the president, hinting that Obama might be assassinated and a Muslim framed to take the blame.

    So, boycott? Nowhere near enough. They’re a hell of a lot more dangerous than one guy who sits on his ass and shoots his mouth off.

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  164. anjin-san says:

    I wondered how long it would take for Jenos Tedium to get around to scary Muslims…

    I’d never organize a boycott against the Nation of Islam

    Of course not. Why actually do something when you can whine endlessly on a blog?

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  165. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Actually, I hadn’t given Beck any thought until I happened to check Drudge and saw he was being threatened by the Nation of Islam (which isn’t part of “mainsteam Islam,” as most Muslims are eager to point out), and then Gloria mentioned Beck and it clicked in my head. The irony — all the liberals getting bent out of shape about Limbaugh’s calling someone a name while ignoring actual death threats — was just too much to not mention.

    Besides, it’s letting me avoid dealing with the incredibly awkward reality that I’m agreeing with Doug and Bill Maher. Although in Maher’s case, it’s hardly principled — he’s just trying to save his own ass. He talks about how he doesn’t have “sponsors,” and technically that’s true. But he does have one big sponsor — HBO. And if HBO decides they don’t want to sponsor him any more, like ABC did… he’s just another pathetic, hate-filled loser.

    Remember, this is the same guy who showed up to a Halloween party in a Steve Irwin costume, complete with bloody stingray barb in his shirt, just about a month after Irwin died.

    Oh, and Maher’s also given about a million bucks to Obama’s SuperPAC. I wonder if they’ll keep the money?

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  166. An Interested Party says:

    Here we go again with, “Hey, look over there!”…

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  167. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: Should I apologize for bringing context and nuance to the table? Did I disrupt your little hypocritical liberal hate-fest? I’m so, so sorry.

    How many times has the left tried to destroy Limbaugh? Each time, he just comes out stronger than ever. I’d recommend doing what I started doing about 20 years ago — just ignoring him.

    Unfortunately, you’re addicted to your hate. And “cold turkey” just won’t work for you, will it?

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  168. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Oh, and Maher’s also given about a million bucks to Obama’s SuperPAC. I wonder if they’ll keep the money?

    I’m absolutely on board with this as long as the Repubs do it too. A politician must return donations from anyone who has crudely or rudely insulted their opponents. Not sure how you would enforce it but hey, let’s go for it. Hmmm, I was assuming you were proposing this for both sides, weren’t you?

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  169. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Oh my, so defensive and projecting even…speaking of cold turkey, did you recently try to quit smoking or something…

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  170. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I do apologize for the fact that you are unable to construct a coherent thought. But thank you for identifying the author from whom you have plagiarized your current identity, JWest. Now tell us again why slaveholders were so much better to black people than those terrible abolitionists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  171. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “I’d never organize a boycott against the Nation of Islam, not even of their “Your Black Muslim Bakery.” I’d rather they be criminally investigated and charged with voter intimidation, incitement to riot, terrorism, and a host of other crimes. ”

    Shorter Jenos: “You mean you want ME to stand up for what I claim to believe in? No way, man, that’s why we have a government. Even if I spend all my time whining about how evil the government is.”

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  172. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: It’s you, IP. I just can’t quit you.

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  173. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Please, it seems like it is WR who you can’t quit…

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  174. Nikki says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You know…I put that phrase (“we kill the…”) into google so I could get the context with which that quote would be made. The only websites that carried that quote were all right wing political blogs. I wonder why that is?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  175. Nikki says:

    @Nikki: Ah…found the context. Yes, what he said was horrible. They were doing in South Africa what’s been going on in the US for centuries.

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  176. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: True, but you gave me (pardon the pun) the “straight” line…

    Besides, you’re moderately intelligent. You’d get the joke. You might not like it or appreciate it, but you’d recognize it.Subtlety and innuendo and humor’s wasted on that clot…

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  177. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Nikki: That’s quite the interesting moral standard you’re applying. Because something happened in the US at one point, we have no business saying it’s wrong? Even after we put an end to it?

    And “for centuries?” Christ, exaggerate much? You’d be hard-pressed to find such instances occurring out of a single 100-year stretch — 1865 to 1964. Before 1865, slavery made such practices moot; after 1964, the civil rights movement was in full swing.

    Your own citation shows a range of 1870 to the 1930’s. Hardly “centuries.”

    And your own racism is showing — it’s all right to call for the slaughter of whites and “faggots” and lesbians as long as they’re not Americans? How tolerant of you.

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  178. Nikki says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Beg your pardon? In what part of my comment did I state what Muhammed said and/or what white folks in the US did/are still doing was all right?

    I will state, though, that you guys on the right appear to be really terrified of black people. Both Bell and Muhammed are dead, yet you must paint them as radical as possible to scare as many people as possible, and then use that same brush to smear the fear onto the president. What’s up with that?

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  179. Kater Murr says:

    Give me a radio show and pay me millions of dollars a year to spout whatever nonsense comes into my head, and I’ll take your argument seriously. I’m exercising my First Amendment right to support the boycott. Let the fat fuck contribute to the ‘free’ exchange of ideas at his local tavern, like the rest of us.

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  180. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Nikki: Where did I get the idea that you were all right with Khalid Mohammed’s calls for genocide? I might have picked up on a hint or two of that when you dismissed it with a lie about American history. “Equivalence” and “equivocation” are related concepts.

    Let me save you your next argument: I didn’t bring up and denounce the “Sundown Towns” because they’re not a current issue in the US. The Nation of Islam is current. I don’t have time to go around and denounce every bad thing that ever happened in history; I barely have enough time to get upset about the bad things happening right now.

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  181. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Kater Murr: Give me a radio show and pay me millions of dollars a year to spout whatever nonsense comes into my head, and I’ll take your argument seriously. I’m exercising my First Amendment right to support the boycott. Let the fat fuck contribute to the ‘free’ exchange of ideas at his local tavern, like the rest of us.

    Typical sense of entitlement. No one “gave” Limbaugh his radio show and his money; he earned it, the hard way through years and years of work. Feel free to put your own time and effort into equaling his success.

    I’ll be in the corner, snickering at you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  182. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Kater Murr: Give me a radio show and pay me millions of dollars a year to spout whatever nonsense comes into my head, and I’ll take your argument seriously. I’m exercising my First Amendment right to support the boycott. Let the fat f*ck contribute to the ‘free’ exchange of ideas at his local tavern, like the rest of us.

    Typical sense of entitlement. No one “gave” Limbaugh his radio show and his money; he earned it, the hard way through years and years of work. Feel free to put your own time and effort into equaling his success.

    I’ll be in the corner, snickering at you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  183. @Jenos Idanian:

    I think you missed Kate’s meaning, but then strangely, you adopt it yourself. You say Rush “earned” his position? Well, maybe he just “un-earned” it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  184. (Pardon, “Kater”)

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  185. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: Perhaps. But since Rush’s deal with his advertisers is to deliver listeners, I’d be curious to see how his ratings do after this latest silliness. But only marginally curious.

    I still remember when nearly every Democrat in the Senate signed a letter denouncing him, and he was pronounced professionally dead by so many of his enemies. Instead, he turned that around into a huge PR coup for himself, a huge fund-raiser for a worthy charity, and made a bunch of Democrats all look like the buffoons they were.

    Why do you keep trying, when you keep failing? I repeat myself: join me in ignoring him.

    I offer that advice secure in the knowledge that it won’t be taken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  186. Curtis says:

    I, too, will defend his right to say what he says. And I will let the companies that advertise on his show know that I find being associated with Limbaugh to be toxic to their brand.

    There are two mechanics near to my home that I have used for car repairs in the past. One of them plays Fox News in their waiting room. The other has Dr Phil or Ellen or somesuch on. While I am sitting there, I am reading, not watching television. But I now go exclusively to the Dr. Phil mechanic because there the TV does not actively annoy me.

    I am not boycotting the “Fox News” mechanic. But I am also not going there. But from his perspective, is there any difference? And if I were a small businessman, wouldn’t I want to know what the reason was why a client stopped coming?

    So by being very vocal about the reason why I am avoiding their product, I am giving Rush’s advertisers good information about how they can improve my perception of their brand.

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  187. Kater Murr says:

    @john personna: Thank you. You’re right, the corner-dwelling fellow with the nervous laugh did miss my point.

    For the irony-impaired: The First Amendment guarantees your right to speak. It doesn’t guarantee your right to be paid to speak, because no such right exists. It also doesn’t compel advertisers to sponsor your speech. Nor does it compel a private company to provide you with a platform from which to utter your speech.

    And you there in the corner: I don’t have a sense of entitlement. What do I look like–an investment banker?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  188. Michael V. Caldwell says:

    FIRST OFF, I ABSOLUTELY DO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM OF SPEECH, BUT I ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY & DUTY OF ANY PUBLIC FIGURE IN AMERICA TO FIND WAYS TO RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE WITH SOMEONE, WHEN DOING IT PUBLICLY, ESPECIALLY NOW DAYS WITH SO MANY COMMUNICATION LINKS.. “OUR WORDS IMPACT THE WORLD”

    “It’s Up To All AMERICAN’S TO LEAD BY GOOD EXAMPLE” All of us make choices everyday that have a Major Impact on Our Country on Our World on Ourselves,on Our Children & Their Children. Our Children and Grandchildren, are always watching us to see how we treat each other when we have a disagreement. “FIVE LOST WORDS IN AMERICA”That, NEED TO BE FOUND AGAIN when disagreeing with each other Especially Publicly & Especially with anyone who is choosing to be “Part Of The Solution” by Using Common Sense, Ameri-Can-Do Attitude and Respect as their “Guideline To Follow At All Times” These Five Words that need to found again and used when disagreeing with with each other are; “I RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE WITH YOU” Each of us can choose to be “Part of the Problem” or to be “Part of the Solution” this choice is up to each individual to make in our daily lives by the words we choose to use and by our attitudes. “PART OF THE PROBLEM” Disrespectful Words & Attitudes that hurt Ourselves & Others, Lack of Team Work, Constant Criticism instead of offering Solutions to the Problem at hand.
    “PART OF THE SOLUTION”
    Mutual Respect, Ameri-Can Do Attitude, Team Work & Suggesting New Ideas That Solve Our Problems As A Respectful Nation, That Leads Our World, Our Next Generation By Good Example Not By Bad Example.

    What ever Choices that each of us choose Impact “OUR CHILDREN, OUR GENERATION, THE NEXT GENERATION & OUR WORLD ! !
    I choose to be “Part of the Solution” always trying my best to use Respect as my Guideline to follow at “All Times Publicly” it’s not an easy Choice to make at times but it is; THE RIGHT CHOICE TO MAKE FOR AMERICA & for “OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE” Respectfully, Michael V. Caldwell Who Is Always Striving to be “Part Of The Solution” Using Respect, Common Sense & Ameri-Can-Do Attitude as my Guidelines to follow at all Times, Especially Publicly Because Public Comments “Impact So Many Lives”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  189. Nikki says:

    @Jenos Idanian: What makes you think sundown towns in the U.S. are (1) a lie on American History and (2) a thing of the past? And I can assure you that sundown towns are as relevant today as the Nation of Islam. Only you right wing bloggers are scared sh*tless of Islam, and Muslims. The rest of us know that Farrakhan and the lot are basically fat-mouthed blowhards and Muslims in the U.S. just want to live and let live. But keep screeching that SHARIA IS GONNA KILL US ALL! Gives us more stuff to point and laugh at.

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  190. anjin-san says:

    But since Rush’s deal with his advertisers is to deliver listeners

    If you have not reviewed the relevant contracts, you really don’t have a clue about those relationships, beyond the fact that they exist.

    But not having a clue never stops you, does it?

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  191. anjin-san says:

    Typical sense of entitlement. No one “gave” Limbaugh his radio show and his money; he earned it, the hard way through years and years of work.

    There is a funny quirk about success that is not really known by people who have not had a lot of it in their lives. Maintaining success is just as hard as attaining success. You can get to the top of the heap and fall right off.

    It generally takes brains to become successful, you have to make smart moves. Making the wrong moves can derail anyone, it happens every day. There is no “right” to stay at the top, no matter how hard one worked to get there.

    I’ll be in the corner, snickering at you.

    Seriously, how old are you? That is a line one expects from a 19 year old with an inflated opinion of himself.

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  192. William Van Vechten says:

    You said, “I will defend to the death his right to say what he says. And so should anyone else who believes in free speech.”

    Do you defend my right to scream “Fire” in a crowded theater?

    Do you defend my right to make up stories about your daughter and repeat them over 3 days to millions of people, even though they have no correlation to the truth?

    My right to swing my fist is important, but it doesn’t extend to hitting someone in the face.

    Thanks for listening.

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  193. MPZ says:

    Once again, the spinelessness of Democrats amazes me. Defending the “right” of a radio blowhard to attack, insult, slander and lie about a private citizen who dares to speak publicly before a panel of elected officials. Haven’t you ever heard the old canard about the “right to free speech doesn’t give you the right to shout FIRE in a crowded theater”? How about the right of a citizen to speak out in public? Why aren’t you cowards defending HER right to free speech?

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  194. Tillman says:

    I just wanna know who willingly goes into a corner to snicker at people. Kindergarten teachers send kids to the corner as a punishment, for Christ’s sake. It is not meant as a place to snicker from.

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  195. Jackson says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Typical Liberal. Unable to make a point, valid or otherwise, without profanity and name calling.

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  196. anjin-san says:

    I just wanna know who willingly goes into a corner to snicker at people.

    One gets the sense that Jenos has pretty much spent his life standing in the corner…

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  197. An Interested Party says:

    The Nation of Islam is current.

    But, of course, has nothing to do with the subject of this post…

    I repeat myself: join me in ignoring him.

    Indeed, his own actions are causing advertisers to do just that…

    Only you right wing bloggers are scared sh*tless of Islam, and Muslims.

    Hmm…you’ve noticed that too? There’s a certain type that can’t seem to exist without the bogeyman…

    That is a line one expects from a 19 year old with an inflated opinion of himself.

    Perhaps you have hit upon the truth…

    Unable to make a point, valid or otherwise, without profanity and name calling.

    Considering the subject of this post, OzarkHillbilly was certainly staying within the theme…

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  198. Mikey says:

    Do you defend my right to scream “Fire” in a crowded theater?

    Depends on whether or not there’s actually a fire.

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  199. William Van Vechten says:

    That’s my point. There was no slut or prostitute. He made it all up!

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  200. Mike says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Spokesman for the Republican party? I suggest you at least make the attempt to listen to his show, if only once. You’ll likely hear, among other opinions, critical commentary concerning the current Republican leadership. This, by the way, has been the case for years, and his criticism centers around certain reasons why the Republicans lost the White House and the Congress in recent years. If Limbaugh’s a spokesman for anything it’s for Limbaugh himself, and self-promotion is simply a form of advertising.

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  201. Gurn Blanston says:

    You libs are all hypocritical jokes. Bill Marha was accused of batter of a black woman and call Sarah Palin the most vile hateful things and even attacked he down syndrome child. You are the people that spew the hate in this country! You are then ones who have to lie and try to tell us its the truth. Its my hope and dream that there will one day be a real civil war with the right and the left. We’ve put up with as much of your crap as we’re going to stand. Take Rush off the air and watch the real hell you’ll pay! We work for a living. You freelaod off of us! This will all be a distant memory by next week and you’ll have to come up with some other distraction to hide Obama failure. No matter what you do, people are pissed off and fed up and know the left is behind the disaster that is destroying our nation, not Limbaugh. Nice try! See you @ssholes in November!

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  202. Jenos Idanian says:

    Let’s look at how Rush Limbaugh became the face/voice/de facto leader of the GOP. It’s because liberals have proclaimed him as such.

    Deliberately or not, it’s a splendid example of one of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Unfortunately for them, they’re been too incompetent and Limbaugh too crafty for that to truly work. Every attempt so far has failed miserably. I heard one time he actually “accepted” the position — and then immediately resigned it. I found that quite amusing.

    It can be a very successful tactic, so I’m not surprised they keep trying it on him. But sooner or later, you’d think they’d realize they simply aren’t smart enough to pull it off. But that requires a level of self-awareness that simply escapes them.

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  203. An Interested Party says:

    Let’s look at how Rush Limbaugh became the face/voice/de facto leader of the GOP.

    Because Republicans are afraid to criticize him and those that did have had to come crawling back to him with apologies…but yes, by all means, bring up ALINSKY’S RULES!!1!!

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  204. anjin-san says:

    Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals

    Shorter Jenos – “I am a blithering idiot. That is all.”

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