Limbaugh: Reporter Should Kill Himself

Rush Limbaugh has gotten everyone from Media Matters to The Guardian to Andrew Sullivan to Paul Krugman to Raw Story to FireDogLake up in arms because he allegedly suggested that a NYT reporter kill himself.  Except that, to anyone familiar with either Limbaugh or the conventions of American English, it’s rather obvious he was illustrating absurdity by being absurd.

Here’s the actual quote, as supplied by Media Matters:

I think these militant environmentalists, these wackos, have so much in common with the jihad guys. Let me explain this. What do the jihad guys do? The jihad guys go to families under their control and they convince these families to strap explosives on who? Not them. On their kids. Grab your 3-year-old, grab your 4-year-old, grab your 6-year-old, and we’re gonna strap explosives on there, and then we’re going to send you on a bus, or we’re going to send you to a shopping center, and we’re gonna tell you when to pull the trigger, and you’re gonna blow up, and you’re gonna blow up everybody around you, and you’re gonna head up to wherever you’re going, 73 virgins are gonna be there. The little 3- or 4-year-old doesn’t have the presence of mind, so what about you? If it’s so great up there, why don’t you go? Why don’t you strap explosives on you — and their parents don’t have the guts to tell the jihad guys, “You do it! Why do you want my kid to go blow himself up?” The jihad guys will just shoot ’em, ’cause the jihad guys have to maintain control.

The environmentalist wackos are the same way. This guy from The New York Times, if he really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet, humanity is destroying the climate, that human beings in their natural existence are going to cause the extinction of life on Earth — Andrew Revkin. Mr. Revkin, why don’t you just go kill yourself and help the planet by dying?

Rather clearly, Limbaugh isn’t so angry about a silly blog post that he actually thinks Revkin deserves to die.  Rather, he thinks Revkin is an idiot with really screwed up priorities. Limbaugh is employing standard reductio ad absurdum logic here:

  • Revkin argues that we should reduce the number of babies being born as a means of reducing CO2 emissions and thereby saving the planet.
  • By that logic, “the planet” is more important than people
  • Revkin should demonstrate his commitment by ending his own life.

Update (Alex Knapp): Actually, Rush Limbaugh’s big crime here isn’t “telling someone to off himself” — it’s plagarism. This is almost exactly the same joke that the late, great comedian Bill Hicks did in his act around 1991:

People pay lip service to saving the planet, but they don’t — they fail to make the big leap that if you want to save the planet, kill your fucking self. The planet will be saved without you. And what a delightful place it’ll be.

I’ll give Limbaugh credit: he’s stealing from possibly the best comedian of the 20th Century.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Humor, Media, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    You poor guy. Defending Rush AGAIN?

    No, he was not “illustrating absurdity by being absurd.” He was being Rush, and Rush == absurd so much of the time.

    Of course, “Rush == absurd” is a dangerous idea, because Rush is sooo important to the conservative movement in 2009.

    They (and James) can’t quit Rush.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Of course, “Rush == absurd” is a dangerous idea, because Rush is sooo important to the conservative movement in 2009.

    They (and James) can’t quit Rush.

    I haven’t listened to Rush in years. But this controversy is entirely ginned up.

  3. Idiot says:

    What really upset the Left about Rush is his existence.

  4. odograph says:

    As someone who tries to ferret out the rational costs and benefits in environmental questions, I didn’t have to wait long to get turned off in that quote:

    I think these militant environmentalists, these wackos, have so much in common with the jihad guys. Let me explain this. What do the jihad guys do? The jihad guys go to families under their control and they convince these families to strap explosives on who? Not them. On their kids. Grab your 3-year-old, grab your 4-year-old, grab your 6-year-old […]

    I’ll stop reading right there. That’s nuts.

    But you want me to go past that James? To find something “ginned up?”

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Some people just cannot manage hearing the truth. Odograph is a case in point. The logic of what Rush answers to the stupidity of what Mr. Revkin writes escapes those who hate. Rush simply invites Revkin to put his money where his mouth is. (Now pay attention to this for it does not often happen) Dr. Joyner comments on how those on the left twist the arguement to attack Rush rather than direct thier discussion to what was written or said. Here Odograph lumps Dr. Joyner in with the ditto heads who blindly support Rush because he leads some movement. Just shows some people do not understand anything. Conservatives believe in Amercia and most of America is conservative to one degree or another. Conservatives believe in tradition. My parents taught me right from wrong. I learned of America’s greatmess in school. My grandparents came here so they could make a profit. Now they are trying to make profit a bad thing. Odograph, Hugo Chavez has created a paradise for you in South America, move.

  6. James Joyner says:

    But you want me to go past that James? To find something “ginned up?”

    The controversy that all the linked folks and more are whining about is the “kill himself” quote. If they’d been whining about “Rush compares environmentalists to terrorists” angle — which I think is mere hyperbole but rather silly — I wouldn’t have bothered posting on it.

  7. odograph says:

    That’s funny. Zelsdorf sees me as iconic of a group … when of course I see him the same way. Doubly. In spades.

    Why the heck would you think I am on the same page as Hugo Chavez (a nut of the Linbaugh caliber who has himself a country)?

    I get it actually. This is the way New Republicanism works. If I try to give rational consideration to environmental problems … I am a terrorist, or I am Hugo Chavez (never mind that he is on a whole other axis, and probably has a terrible environmental record himself).

  8. Eric Florack says:

    I quote from a post on BitsBlog, dated Aprl 9th of last year:

    Committing Suicide for the Environment: Speaking of the environment, I related a story recently as regards an enviro-zealot who approached us a few years ago. He advised us that the planet has too many people on it, and we need to take immediate steps to solve this crisis. I advised him that committing suicide thus removing his negative environmental influence on the planet was a far more effective means to the end of solving the crisis, than was bitching at us about altering the American lifestyle. Of course, he took offense. Yet he couldn’t deny that was the logical conclusion to draw. And after all, the earth depends on what we do next…. and it’s a crisis, needing immediate action. He did stop babbling. Ya know, you’ve got a hand it to the Unabomber. He had a heavily underlined copy of “earth in the balance” in his collection. Say what you will about him, I will likely agree. But at least, he understood the relationship between what the environmentalists preach, and the logical conclusion of it. It’s funny. I don’t seem to recall to many environmentalists labeling him an “extremist”. Or, for that matter, a “terrorist”. Yet, so he was. One would think that these kind of events would get the enviro-wchack-jobs to reexamine the logical basis of their arguments, when the logical conclusions present themselves as such. I tell you with no uncertainty whatsoever, that these extreme examples that I’ve cited, are the logical conclusion of that brand of non-thought. That we have people now controlling our government who subscribe to that logic, makes the way this thing will go quite predictable.

  9. odograph says:

    Two things bit. First, a “too many people” guy may just be advocating smaller families, which isn’t killing anyone. It may just be an encouragement.

    Second, using a guy like the Unibomber to brand enviornmentalists is a bit like using Tim McVeigh to brand conservatives.

    Yeah, there was one Unibomber, and there was one Tim McVeigh, what does that really tell us?

  10. buermann says:

    Standard reductio ad absurdum logic? All Revkin suggested was expanding the availability of contraception because he thinks the planet is important to people. He wants “to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits”, it says in the little box with his picture. To quote George Carlin, the planet is going to be fine without us. Limbaugh’s misconstruing his priorities, it’s not logical at all, it’s a strawman fallacy.

  11. Drew says:

    You must not get out much, Alex. That hyperbolic argument has been made so many times by so many people.

  12. reid says:

    “By that logic, “the planet” is more important than people”

    I don’t follow (though I admittedly didn’t bother reading the original environmentalist’s piece). By saving the planet, we are saving ourselves. If we don’t save the planet, where does that leave us? Seems like common sense; the only debate is how much damage we’re doing. Overpopulation will be a problem, if it isn’t already. What will happen to the planet with 10 billion people? 20? Obviously, reducing the birth rate is a painless way to reduce the population over time. Saying “go kill yourself then!” is just idiotic fodder for the base. I do agree it was said as hyperbole, but it doesn’t make it any less idiotic.

  13. odograph says:

    James sees this as “mere hyperbole” but I think we can see that Rush has built a following that really does have this binding. Consider an environmental problem? You are Hugo Chavez. You are the Unibomber.

    I’d ask Eric and Zelsdorf to consider this scenario: We all have rivers upstream of us somehow. Either our water comes from lakes and rivers, or our wells are replenished by lakes and rivers. What if a fish farming operation sets up on that river, and returns his outflow. He uses some combination of antibiotics and antifungals in his crowded fish ponds. Now, do you want anyone measuring what comes out of the pipe, to later appear at your tap? Or do you have faith that somehow the market (prices for the fish? prices for the water?) will work it out?

    If you want to know what’s in your water, you are a whacko. You are Hugo Chavez. You are the Unibomber. Hey! That’s fun.

  14. Wayne says:

    “ditto heads who blindly support Rush because he leads some movement. Just shows some people do not understand anything”.

    Sound like you have mistaken ditto heads for Democrats who blindly follow their leaders’ even if it goes against their beliefs just because it is their leader. Ditto heads generally agree with Rush because they generally agree with Rush. If any of you actually listen to his show instead of blindly following the “popular” crowd who is against him, you would know this. If there is one thing Rush hates is someone who can’t think for him or herself. On a daily bases he throws out traps to catch blind followers and to make sure people know why they think a certain way instead of just parroting conclusion.

    Unlike many of the opposition who tend to want to repeat conclusions and\or lies enough time that it becomes “undisputed knowledge” with little concern the supportive argument behind it.

  15. Wyatt Earp says:

    Media Matters is an oxymoron. They, and the mainstream media, have not actually mattered to anyone in years.

    You would think Soros would follow his own site’s advice and “Move On,” from the partisan hackery.

  16. Alex Knapp says:

    Drew,

    As far as I was able to tell when I checked up this morning, Bill Hicks had the earliest iteration of the joke.

  17. Franklin says:

    I agree with reid.

  18. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Thanks, Wayne. Many of the comments here represent folks who do not listen to Rush but criticize him none the less because they believe what others say about him. Unlike those who hate him, Rush presents his arguments, his beliefs if you will, and through the telephone accepts challenges to those arguments. Rush always backs up his statements with facts if needed and waits for people to disagree with his premise. Odograph, call Rush with your disagreement or are you afraid listen to him will cause your brain to explode. Funny when presented with the opportunity to go to a place where what Obama is trying to establish is already in place you balk. After all, just read Alinskys rules and tell me Obama is not using them.

  19. Our Paul says:

    I have always held that Rush is a comedian of rare skills and that hidden in his rants are sequential syllogisms of unusual brilliance. I may receive some heat for supporting Dr. Joiner’s formulation, or for pointing out that to a comedian, the topic is of no importance, only the punch line.

    Before folks on the left start sharpening their knives, I would urge them to put on a Beatle record and listen to the lyrics backwards. It is an essential exercise to grasp Rush’s logic.

    I am confidant that if we could consult St. Thomas Aquinas, he would ponder the matter for a short period of time, and then with a sardonic smile, murmur: res ipsa loquitur.

  20. odograph says:

    In other words Zel, wait till your daddy gets home?

  21. Eric Florack says:

    Two things bit. First, a “too many people” guy may just be advocating smaller families, which isn’t killing anyone. It may just be an encouragement.

    You’re trying to pass it off as a matter of degree. I’ve no doubt that’s how the guy I was referring to saw it. I’m also quite sure he’s far from alone. Ex; the guy Limbaugh was on about.

    Trouble is, the basic logic of what they’re preaching still comes down to exactly what I said. There’s no way to spin your way out of that linkage.

    Second, using a guy like the Unibomber to brand enviornmentalists is a bit like using Tim McVeigh to brand conservatives.

    Go ahead, and tell me about how that wasn’t being done, and how it hadn’t become a permanant part of the leftist mantra before the dust settled in OKC.

    And an aside for Odo; What your argument has to do with the one at hand seems somewhat less than clear.

  22. Eric Florack says:

    And by the way, Odo, look close at that line again; I made no equivalency. IN fact I drew a rather sharp distinction between the two. Of the two only the Unibomber really understood the underlying logic of the earth-firsters.

  23. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    When those that have tell those than have not, they need to cut back on what they should expect to have. I would like to see them be the first to give up what they probably got at the public trough. Somewhat like Revkin wrote. I gave no one the power of God over me. You do not get to tell me how many kids I should have or that I have to buy some product. I do not want to force my beliefs on you but I will fight to the death to protect my right to believe what I wish. I read opinions on what Revkin said, that was not evident in Dr. Joyner’s post. In Rush’s view it was a radical statement. Where is the evidence humanity is destroying the planet? Where is the proof humanity is changing the climate? If you think CO2 is a pollutant, take Biology 101.

  24. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Odograph. FOAD! I have lived for 6 decades and what I have learned you will never know.

  25. Rick Almeida says:

    Indeed, ZRIII, none of us are able to figure out what you’ve learned.

  26. reid says:

    “If you think CO2 is a pollutant, take Biology 101.”

    Brilliant. I’d applaud your Rush-like level of comedy, but I suspect you’re serious….

  27. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Rick, that does not suprise me. Reid, take a note. Every living mammal exhales CO2. Every living plant needs it to live. Every living mammal depends on plants to live directly or indirectly. I hope you do not have too much trouble following the logic that would follow. If a scientist told you humanity was responsible for the breakup of Pangea, would you believe it?

  28. Marty says:

    Wayne wrote:

    If there is one thing Rush hates is someone who can’t think for him or herself

    Gotta remember not to read this blog while eating lunch…Need to get something to clean off my monitor…

  29. reid says:

    ZRIII, to use an analogy: I guess you wouldn’t mind if I burned your house down with you in it, since there’s no mention of arson in the biology books? What, fire is a pollutant?! Stupid liberals!

  30. DavidL says:

    Rush has exposed another in a long line of hypocrites.

    Yasser Arafat believed that Palestinian mothers should encourage their children to suicide bombers while his children were safe in Paris.

    Ted Turner fathers five, and then preaches population control.

    Al Gore prattles about so-called anthropogenic global warming whiling flying around in his private jet.

    Andrew Revkin babbles that the world is over populated, but seems to have no problem over populating it himself.

    Enviromental wackos are not pro-Earth. They are anti-people. Revkin does not believe what he writes. So he should simply shut-up.

  31. I disagree. I think Revkin is completely sincere in his beliefs but that he feels he is exempt from the rules that apply to the hoi polloi.

  32. Alex Knapp says:

    Every living mammal exhales CO2. Every living plant needs it to live. Every living mammal depends on plants to live directly or indirectly.

    I suppose that, according to this logic, since every living thing also requires water to live, it’s impossible to drown…

  33. buermann says:

    “Rush always backs up his statements with facts”

    Where are these 3, 4, and 6 year old suicide bombers?

  34. Wayne says:

    Alex
    Are you saying water is a pollutant? After all too much of it can cause harm.

  35. Alex Knapp says:

    Wayne,

    Are you saying water is a pollutant? After all too much of it can cause harm.

    I’m hoping you’re trying to be cute and not willfully obtuse. Obviously what I’m saying that something that is safe at one level of dosage can be dangerous at a different level.

    Although, yes, water is regulated at a pollutant in certain circustances, which anyone who does large scale infrastructure projects knows.

  36. Wayne says:

    Marty
    You sound like another one who doesn’t listen to Rush and believe anything bad anyone says against him because your leaders say say. Just another mindless liberal sheep.

  37. Wayne says:

    Alex
    Something causing harm is not necessarily a pollutant. Yes water can be corrosive and too much of it can cause harm. However calling it a pollutant in general would be inappropriate. It occurs often in nature and is needed often in nature. Same applies for CO2. Just because someone can create specific scenarios where a substance can be call a pollutant doesn’t mean that substance should be called a pollutant in general.

    Yes I was being a little tongue in cheek but your example pretty much correlated with CO2 and hurt your argument even though you thought it help it.

    Fire sometimes results in pollutants but is not a pollutant itself except if very special cases.

  38. reid says:

    The point is that insisting something isn’t dangerous because it doesn’t fit some definition of “pollutant” is silly. We all know CO2 isn’t a biological hazard, thanks; no one’s suggesting it is, so quit attacking that straw man.

  39. Wayne says:

    Reid
    You seem to be one of those insisting that CO2 be call a pollutant and ridiculing anyone who claims otherwise.

  40. reid says:

    Wayne: I never said anything about CO2, particularly whether it be called a pollutant. I couldn’t help but point out how silly and insulting ZRIII’s argument was. Does this make sense to you: “Man isn’t causing climate change because CO2 isn’t a biological hazard”. The sad thing is that I would expect that level of debate (deception?) from members of Congress.

  41. the Q says:

    Does anyone realize that 17% of the pollution I breathe in daily in Los Angeles comes from pollution sources in China?

    These pollutants are man made and as China’s economy grows without restraint the pollution I breathe will increase as well.

    I highly recommend to anyone who doubts the deleterous impact mankind has on the environment to see “Blue Planet”. This movie was shot for IMAX from the space shuttle. See this link for a clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GicUYn8xPQo

    If you are not scared shi%less after watching this movie and the frail, thin sliver of atmosphere which separates us from being a lifeless speck of cosmic debris in the vast cosmos, then you must be a conservative dittohead.

    Its not as if we can import from another planet a new atmosphere.

    Take a good look at the opening sequence in the above link showing earth as this shining blue ball against the vast darkness of the universe.

    Then think of the shrill, ignorant, pompous ranting against “environmental Nazis” that thinking people have to put with from myopic morons who could care less.

  42. Drew says:

    Alex –

    As far as I was able to tell when I checked up this morning, Bill Hicks had the earliest iteration of the joke.

    C’mon, Alex. There’s no need to marginalize yourself over this. Its a well worn hyperbole.

  43. Marty says:

    Wayne – Somehow, a group that self-refers as ‘Ditto-heads’ does not inspire confidence in their capacity for independent rational thought. The absolute last thing talk radio hosts like Limbaugh (and his advertisers) want is an audience that thinks.

  44. Wayne says:

    Reid
    “”If you think CO2 is a pollutant, take Biology 101.”
    Brilliant. I’d applaud your Rush-like level of comedy, but I suspect you’re serious….”

    I’m not sure how to take that except that you think CO2 is a pollutant. If that wasn’t your intention then you need to be clearer in the future because we can’t read your mind. ZRIII was pointing out several overstatements by the left including CO2 as a pollutant which they use to claim we need to regulate it. Power plants construction has been halted by State Governments using the claim that CO2 is a pollutant so the claiming of it is a pollutant has significance.

    If you want to claim CO2 is a green house gas, fine but so is water vapor. Both are influence in a small way by humans but also occur quite frequently naturally. One side claims that human influence is insignificant compare to nature and that we don’t know what the ideal temperature should be. For all we know CO2 we produce could be helping us. The other side disputes this. IMO human produce CO2 is insignificant. The debate goes on.

  45. reid says:

    Wayne: So you think the people on “the left” who are in favor of classifying CO2 as a pollutant actually believe that it’s a biological hazard, and that they need to take Biology 101? There’s no other reason they might want to do so? That’s what ZRIII and, it seems, you are implying and arguing against.

  46. Franklin says:

    If you are not scared shi%less after watching this movie and the frail, thin sliver of atmosphere which separates us from being a lifeless speck of cosmic debris in the vast cosmos, then you must be a conservative dittohead.

    Why would conservatives be afraid of that, when there are some bad guys hiding in caves on the other side of the world?

  47. G.A.Phillips says:

    “Rush always backs up his statements with facts”

    Where are these 3, 4, and 6 year old suicide bombers?

    They blew up?

    If you are not scared shi%less after watching this movie and the frail, thin sliver of atmosphere which separates us from being a lifeless speck of cosmic debris in the vast cosmos, then you must be a conservative dittohead.

    Or just not a brainwashed liberal.Dude like really, you need to take science fiction with a grain of salt, it’s not real.

    they don’t no **** about this planets Eco system, or what effects it on a global scale, they just think they do, and say they do, but like always, in a short period of time their theories and conclusions will change, they always do.

  48. Andrew says:

    Some people bring out bullet points to clearly delineate the steps in a logical argument.

    Others, like our dear author here, just throw random bullet points into the middle of a completely spurious argument and hope they’ll lead their audience to believe that serious logic was used.

  49. BC says:

    GA, you are killing me. So THAT is what happened to those suicide bombers?

    Honestly people, this planet has experienced huge temperature and CO2 swings over geologic time. Ancient humans thrived despite those swings. We modern folk will too. Forget Rush, forget Revkin. They are just pimples on the big events. Let’s just deal with reality. If the poles melt, New Orleans needs bigger dikes, as does the Netherlands and other swampy places like Bangladesh. Al Gore will not help us, nor will silly laws passed by silly, non-complying governments. We (or more likely our kids) just need to deal with whatever comes.

  50. anjin-san says:

    If you are not scared shi%less after watching this movie and the frail, thin sliver of atmosphere which separates us from being a lifeless speck of cosmic debris in the vast cosmos, then you must be a conservative dittohead.

    I was going to introduce you to bithead, but it seems that you already know him…

  51. floyd says:

    Suggestion…. Do an article with no text, just the title “Limbaugh!” then sit back watch the knee-jerk responses from all the “Fitto-Heads”[lol]

  52. Republicans still sucking ass says:

    Note to moron author:

    The planet is more important than people, our life depends on it, not the other way around.

  53. Republicans still sucking ass says:

    Climate change is real. If you want real climate science go to the preeminent source of science publishing Nature.com. There is no question among science professionals as to whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a major contributor.

  54. james stevenson says:

    yeah, but bill hicks was funny AND smart.

  55. Larry says:

    Who the heck is Bill Hicks?

    Don’t try to diminish Rush. It never works.

  56. Mindless Liberal says:

    Do not question the Gore. He is smarter than you will ever be.

    We must give over all of our manufacturing to China. So sayeth the Gore so say we all.

  57. anjin-san says:

    Don’t try to diminish Rush. It never works.

    True. Must be all those “conservatives” that have their lips vacuum welded to his ass giving him additional mass…

  58. Herb says:

    “(T)his controversy is entirely ginned up.”

    It would seem so. Of course, if you spent time debunking all the controversies ginned up by Limbaugh himself, then you would have no time to blog about anything else.

  59. Herb says:

    PS. If Hicks was still around, he might have this to say about Rush’s plagiarism:

    “I have a scoop for you. I stole Limbaugh’s act. I camouflaged it with punchlines and to really throw people off, I did it before he did.”

  60. G.A.Phillips says:

    Ain’t it funny how the liberals here rule five Rush then when we tell them “to knock it off” lol, they try to make us understand with some obscure halfjack dodo philosophy to explain how they See to the true side of the story that we as conservatives can’t possibly understand, LOLZZZ….

  61. G.A.Phillips says:

    Climate change is real.

    lol, ya it’s called the 2nd law of thermal dynamics and it can not be stopped my man.

    But if you liberals really want to do your part in reducing carbon emissions STFU and STFD and then then stay there!!!!!