Every time Rush Limbaugh opens his mouth I grow less enamored with the mindless fetish for free speech that permeates American culture. And notice that I use the word “culture” and not “civilization.” Because as long as this sort of thing is routine on our airwaves, we ain’t got that civilization thing.

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Comments

  1. #1 Thinker
    January 15, 2010

    This reminded me of the story (legend?) about Mahatma Gandhi visiting Europe. A journalist asked him “Mr. Gandhi, with your deep knowledge of the East, what is your opinion about Western civilization?” Gandhi is said to have replied: “Actually, I think that would be a very good idea.”

  2. #2 MadScientist
    January 15, 2010

    We’d have even less of a civilization if assholes like Rush were suppressed. Hey Rush, sell me some of your drugs, K? Folks shouldn’t be shy to tell Rush what a vile little sack of puke he is though. Well, OK, big sack of puke … Scores of thousands are suffering from an earthquake that would devastate any city and he says don’t help ‘em out.

  3. #3 INSECT REVOLUTION!!!!!
    January 15, 2010

    It’s not a “mindless fetish,” it’s a principle: free speech includes offensive speech. To silence someone just because they offend you sets a dangerous precedent, encouraging fundamentalist scumbags to silence any opposition to their dogma in the name of sensitivity and hurt feelings, but it reduces all of us to children, who need to have decided for us what is suitable for us to hear.

  4. #4 Frank Cornish
    January 15, 2010

    Last night on a conservative talk radio station, someone called in and said “If we are sending troops to aid Haiti, won’t that make us more vulnerable to another terrorist attack?”

    I don’t see how that makes us any more vulnerable than having our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and keeping them there in a “stop loss” so that soldiers who thought they had served their tour are kept away from their families for longer periods of time than they had signed for.

    Humanitarian aid is something that shits like Limbaugh don’t understand because they don’t see a profit avenue from it. There is a great deal more profit to be made by keeping us so afraid of our own shadows by using the words “commie” “socialist” and “terrorist” to make us feel like like we need to hand over all of our money and privacy to them.

  5. #5 Frank Cornish
    January 15, 2010

    I think that what Greg is saying, correct me if I am wrong, is not that free speech should be suppressed. He is saying that “free speech” is being used as a shield to do and say anything, no matter how irresponsible, nasty or completely asshattish. Anyone who has access to a microphone and a contract from sponsors can spew garbage without any prior restraint “just because they can.” If there were thoughtful dialog behind any of what the reich wing had to say, it would be more interesting and fruitful, but as my parents taught me when I was a kid “Just because you can say it, doesn’t mean you should.”

  6. #6 Thomas
    January 15, 2010

    The problem isn’t that Limbaugh is allowed to say whatever he wants but that so many people want to listen to it. You’d expect people like that to shout from a soapbox in a street corner, or today run a blog, not have a large audience in television.

  7. #7 Orac
    January 15, 2010

    It’s not a “mindless fetish,” it’s a principle: free speech includes offensive speech. To silence someone just because they offend you sets a dangerous precedent, encouraging fundamentalist scumbags to silence any opposition to their dogma in the name of sensitivity and hurt feelings, but it reduces all of us to children, who need to have decided for us what is suitable for us to hear.

    Exactly. Even the thought of suppressing free speech because someone doesn’t like how this person or that is using the right to free speech sends chills up my spine–and not in a good way. The First Amendment is arguably the best bulwark against tyranny there is. So what if famous assholes like Limbaugh use that right to say horrible things? Suppressing Limbaugh would be using a thermonuclear weapon to kill a rat. The rat would be dead, but the collateral damage to our freedom would be far beyond any possible benefit that could come from it.

    Putting up with despicable speech is one price we pay for freedom. It’s a price worth paying.

  8. #8 Marshall
    January 15, 2010

    Ummm… RushLimbaugh.com has a giant ad at the top to donate to Haiti. He has encouraged people to make donations on his show, and he did so within minutes of that line that Olbermann quotes out of context. UNPLUG YOUR BRAIN FROM MSNBC!!!

  9. #9 James Ernst
    January 15, 2010

    Marshall @7

    Um… no. I just looked at RushLimbaugh.com, and it does not have an ad for Haiti donations.

    Granted, I also don’t see anything about gold coins.

  10. #10 dean
    January 15, 2010

    Right now (January 15, 8:00 est) rush’s site has a banner that says “Haiti Earthquake: Latest News and Relief Information”. It takes you away from his site.

    On the right, under “Rush commodity center” is a scrolling list of commodities and their prices (example: Gold: $1135.50, down $1.50)

    So, he doesn’t specifically have a way to donate from his site, but does have a link to one that might (I didn’t look at the other site), and he does have an item relating to prices of various precious metals and commodities (I didn’t investigate that either).

    None of this adds to or subtracts from the asinine quality of his statements about the relief effort – those simply add to his legacy as a buffoonish, unprincipled entertainer (to some) who happens to have a racist worldview.

  11. #11 dean
    January 15, 2010

    By the way, roger ebert, on his site, has a brief letter to rush about this.

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100114/OPINION/100119985

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    January 15, 2010

    INSECT: But it is a fetish. Otherwise you might have a thing or say to say about Rush, rather than about free speech.

    Frank: It would be nice if radio and TV shows all had only one sponsor, and always a commonly used retail product, like back in the old days.

    Marshall: Yeah, and I have an ad for Russian Brides or something at the top of my web site. It’s called a banner ad.

  13. #13 Julie Stahlhut
    January 15, 2010

    Free speech most definitely includes offensive speech. It also includes offended responses to offensive speech. Limbaugh has exercised his legal right to say something that was stupid, cruel, and generally obnoxious. Other public figures with wide readerships (like Roger Ebert, not to mention ScienceBlogs writers) are exercising their right to call out Limbaugh for being stupid, cruel, and generally obnoxious.

    Thomas has it right. Bigots and other asshats have been among us for millennia, but now the guy who used to rant in the bar can rant on radio or TV and get paid millions for it. I’m less concerned with what made Rush Limbaugh a bigoted asshat than with the dittohead phenomenon in general. Limbaugh gets paid for being a bigoted asshat, and his listeners are the reason why.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    January 15, 2010

    Julie what about the fact that Rush Limbaugh, unmitigaged, generates more dittoheads?

    I essentially agree, by the way, with the free speech principle. What I am not so sure about is the fact that it is fetishized to the extent that a conversation about particular hateful speech turns into a conversation defending the hateful speech more easily than it turns into a conversation bout the negative effects of the speech.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    January 15, 2010

    Exactly. Even the thought of suppressing free speech because someone doesn’t like how this person or that is using the right to free speech sends chills up my spine–and not in a good way.

    Suppressing? Nobody is calling to suppress anyone.

    Something other than “The free speech, it roolz!!!!” should be the main reaction to shit like Limbaugh slings. Something like “who is paying for this … let’s avoid those products” is perhaps an appropriate reaction.

    Which, as a reminder, would not be suppression. One of the pieces of evidence that this is, in fact and on the ground, a mindless fetish rather than a principle (in practice for many people other than our resident Constitutional Scholar, Orac) is the fact that so many people are willing to jump in to protect speech from things like boycotts or “voting with the feet” behavior. Such real and pragmatic effects of speech are not protected by the first amendment in practice or in principle.

  16. #16 History Punk
    January 15, 2010

    I think Greg and others angry with Limbaugh are just mad at him for articulating how they felt about Haiti before the earthquake. I bet that 90% of Americans who knew Haiti existed before the earthquake(an important qualifier given the average American’s knowledge of geography.) didn’t give two shits about Haiti before this earthquake. Give it six months time, and they’ll forget this earthquake ever happened.

  17. #17 Naughtius Maximus
    January 15, 2010

    Stop persecuting the pro-life christians!

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    January 15, 2010

    History: Just to be clear, you should articulate who “they” is in your first sentence.

    Then I’ll feel free to kick your ass, k?

  19. #19 History Punk
    January 15, 2010

    They, in my sentence, are those angry with Limbaugh. For the record, I support Clinton’s decision to dispatch troops to Haiti and thought we should have done there what we later did in Bosnia, appoint a smart Western to run it until the local gained the ability to do so. Had we done that, Haiti would be far better off.

  20. #20 Miss B.Having
    January 15, 2010

    The problem is not so much “free speech” as “equal speech”. The media seem to give the same weight and and merit to all speech with little regard to factual (or any other kind) integrity in the name of “fairness”. Birthers, Dittoheads, nuclear physicists, the media “equalize” them all. BTW, Mr Naughtius Maximus, that’s spelled “Nauseous”

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    January 15, 2010

    I don’t think what is going on in Haiti is even close to what is going on in Bosnia. Nor do I think that ANYONE who is complaining about Limbaugh is complaining that he is saying what we were thinking.

  22. #22 Matt
    January 15, 2010

    —I grow less enamored with the mindless fetish for free speech that permeates American culture.

    Greg, it must pain you that your political opinion and Rush’s political opinion are legally worth exactly the same. Such is life in a democracy. Youve now expressed your distaste for the first and second amendments in the Bill of Rights. The founders did not put those in order unrelated to their deemed importance. From this fundamental opposition I deduce you are seriously unhappy with the American Experiment.

    Are you proposing we work towards some other more perfect form of government?

    Can you lay out the principles, at least regarding speech, which would have an eliminative effect on Rush, but not you?

  23. #23 History Punk
    January 15, 2010

    Mr. Laden,
    I meant that the United States, in 1994, should have done what they did in Bosnia in 1996, appoint a rather smart Western to run the place until locals could figure out how to do it themselves was my point. Now, and in 1994, Haiti was never as bad as Bosnia.

    As for Limbaugh, people are pissed, in part, because they held the same exact attitude as Limbaugh until 72 hours ago when Haiti became a trendy cause. Give it six months time, they’ll revert right back to it. Except with more self-righteousness, after having donating a token sum.

  24. #24 Frank Cornish
    January 15, 2010

    Where is your reading comprehension, Matt? Greg has specifically said what he intends by this and neither the 1st and 2nd amendments have anything to do with that.

    Unless you mean that you have the right to hold a gun to my head to buy from Limbaugh’s advertisers.

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    January 15, 2010

    Matt: Greg, it must pain you that your political opinion and Rush’s political opinion are legally worth exactly the same.

    No, it does not, and if you had read what I’ve said you would not say say this. I am a huge supporter of the first amendment, and nothing I’ve said here contradicts or obviates that.

    History: OK, I get it. By the way, I was busy trying to get people interested in Rwanda back when they were starting to shift their focus to Bosnia. No one who knew anything at the time did not see Rwanda and the Congo War coming.

  26. #26 Matt
    January 15, 2010

    Greg, you state youve become less enamored with the mindless fetish around the First Amendment.

    Taking that literally that means at one point your were greatly enamored with the mindless fetish that surrounds free speech.

    Seems to me your thinking about ways to limit speech. When asked about that, you change the subject to boycotts. If you wanted to organize a boycott on Rush, by all means have at it, ive boycotted him all my life. But dont lede your post with a titillating muse about the downsides of the first amendment and then jump on people when they rise to defend it.

  27. #27 Matt
    January 15, 2010

    Frank,

    Gregs comments on the 2nd amendment have come in other posts, not this one.

    Regarding the 1st amendment, boycotting Rush has nothing to do with that. So why bring up the constitution at all if you want to boycott Rush?

  28. #28 Stephanie Z
    January 15, 2010

    Matt, I know this requires some parsing, but the “mindless fetish around the First Amendment” is not the First Amendment. If it were, no preposition (“around”) would be necessary. As written, Greg is explicitly not talking about the First Amendment. He is talking about people confusing what is actually in the First Amendment with the amendment itself. The reason to talk about the amendment is make the distinction between it and the idea that speech should be without repercussion.

  29. #29 Raging Bee
    January 15, 2010

    History Punk: got any actual evidence to back up your rather sweeping allegations in #16? (And no, complaints about past US actions, legitimate or not, don’t count as “evidence” in this case. Neither does “everybody knows Americans are dumb.”)

    IIRC, you also pasted exactly the same insulting mini-screed in a Salon Letters thread; and you didn’t do that good a job of backing it up there either. Do you always reflexively lash out at people who express concern for others?

  30. #30 CuCO3
    January 15, 2010

    Nice people – like us :-) – obviously don’t want to do un-nice things such as making offensive remarks. So shit-heads like Limbaugh and his ilk around the world will tend to be more audible.

    There is another matter, though, associated with free speech. I support free speech, but that doesn’t mean I or anyone else has to give a platform to bigots. The madia – like all other industry – seems to be fetishising not gratuitous offense but the making of money. Capitalism and the free market are reasonable things, I think, but there’s nothing about them which means that the people running the businesses can’t and shouldn’t behave in a moral and ethical way. Too many businesses seem willing to do morally dubious things provided it’ll make more money for them. This is helped somewhat by the rather impersonal share holders. It’s all too easy to ignore the moral implications of ones actions if the reins are held by some faceless corporation.

  31. #31 Matt
    January 15, 2010

    thanks for the update, Stephanie. I get loud and clear that Greg wants Rush’s speech to have some repercussions. What I dont get is why he doesnt get on with talking about what those should be, rather than wave a false flag regarding the 1st..page views maybe. They have nothing to do with one another, and that is the point Greg fails to make with his misleading and antagonistic post, but you are now spelling it out for him. While I’ll grant many average Americans (thinking of the misleading free speech backlash about Imus, Sharpton, etc now) can confuse the two, can you point to anyone on this blog who needs that education?

  32. #32 Blustery Blusterbuss
    January 15, 2010

    Somebody on the internet is WRONG! And I just can’t stop myself from typing my opinion about it.

  33. #33 llewelly
    January 15, 2010

    Every time Rush Limbaugh opens his mouth I grow less enamored with the mindless fetish for free speech that permeates American culture.

    It does have the advantage of enabling us to identify the blatantly racist.

  34. #34 Danny Glover
    January 15, 2010

    “When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I’m sayin’?”

    Let’s be fair and non-partisan in our RUSH to judgement….

  35. #35 wheelbrain
    January 15, 2010

    The same witless idiocy behind the attack on Greg’s statement is responsible for Limbaugh’s continued success on the airwaves. The first amendment as concerns free speech is limited and specific: the federal government may not infringe upon free speech. That’s it. Corporations and private citizens are free to limit or attack speech all they like. That’s why Greg is free to blog about Limbaugh, Limbaugh is free to rant about Haiti, and we are all free to talk about it and support one side, the other, or none at all. The problem is that private citizens have taken it upon themselves to defend the first amendment as though it were within their purview. Talk of “silencing” and defending “offensive speech” is to be expected from these ninnies who lack the cojones to stand up and say anything of moral substance. We’ve all heard the quote attributed to Voltaire, but what we tend to forget is that Voltaire himself didn’t shirk from vociferous attacks upon his opponents’ ideas (especially religious fundamentalists). There is no provision in the first amendment against speaking out against your enemies, even drowning them out, or destroying their platform, or alienating their listeners. On the contrary, the first amendment protects us from people like Limbaugh, who, in an America without such an amendment, would probably be given state sanction.

    When you attack Greg for suggesting that America’s obsession with free speech goes too far, you are suggesting that Limbaugh somehow deserves his radio show. He doesn’t. His show is protected from government interference*, but that’s not even close to the same thing. In short, stop defending the rights of people whose rights are not in any danger. You give them the appearance of your support, inadvertently or not, and that’s all they need. Greg never suggested that the government do anything about Limbaugh, and that is the only instance wherein the constitutional application of free speech is relevant.

    *Actually, that’s not true. The government controls usage of the airwaves, which has always been an obvious infringement of the first amendment**. Like copyright, among other things. It would actually be illegal but strictly constitutional to shut Limbaugh down simply by physically drowning out his show. Whether that would be right or wrong, I leave to you.

    **Amusingly, Limbaugh wrote an article addressed to President Obama about regulation of the airwaves. It’s odd to think he supports licensing, and probably doesn’t think you should be able to say “fuck” on an AM morning show, but brings up the first amendment at the first sign of “regulating content”.

  36. #36 Bad Guy
    January 15, 2010

    I’m still curious why we bother helping any country in the first place. All we hear is how much the world hates America, how much America needs to mind its own business, blah blah blah.

    Oh look natural disaster. Well crap, let’s call America. They’re a forgiving group of people, our insults were done before we needed help!

    But this is when I am called a bad person for not wanting to help people who constantly don’t want us around.

  37. #37 History Punk
    January 15, 2010

    “History Punk: got any actual evidence to back up your rather sweeping allegations in #16? (And no, complaints about past US actions, legitimate or not, don’t count as “evidence” in this case. Neither does “everybody knows Americans are dumb.”)”

    My position, albeit slight hyperbole, is based on the numerous surveys on Americans and their knowledge of history and geography and combined with a skepticism of the idea that Americans ignorant of their own nation, despite living in it and it being a priority of the education system, would know that much more about Haiti. I might be wrong, but then again homoeopathy might work.

    As for disliking people help others, well I was an altar server, I was injured in the USAF defending the rights that Mr. Laden is then less enthused about, and I work for a charity and I have an ego and I like myself. So, no, I don’t have a problem with people helping others. What do I have a problem, Mr. Bee, are people who hold an attitude of not giving a shit until it becomes trendy, and then go off on someone for holding that attitude 48 hours long than they did.

    As for repeating myself, I have repeatedly stated that there are fifty stars on the American flag. At least a thousand times, should I lie or make up a number to appear less repetitive for your benefit?

  38. #38 wheelbrain
    January 15, 2010

    I’m still curious why we bother helping any country in the first place. All we hear is how much the world hates America, how much America needs to mind its own business, blah blah blah.

    In this case, it should be sufficient that in 2004, the US government supported a coup to overthrow Haiti’s democratically elected president to the extent that US marines were actually used to kidnap him. This action was also supported by France, which was being sued for reparations* by Aristide, demands that were dropped by his successor. Had the demands been met, Haiti would not be in such poor financial straits today.

    *Which was entirely justified, considering France is the entire reason Haiti is bankrupt in the first place, not just from colonization but also from forcing Haiti to buy its freedom.

  39. #39 Rutee
    January 15, 2010

    “IIRC, you also pasted exactly the same insulting mini-screed in a Salon Letters thread; and you didn’t do that good a job of backing it up there either. Do you always reflexively lash out at people who express concern for others?”
    He posted the same screed on PZ Meyers’ blog. He also didn’t back it up there either. He’s not very good at the thing in his title.

    “My position, albeit slight hyperbole, is based on the numerous surveys on Americans and their knowledge of history and geography and combined with a skepticism of the idea that Americans ignorant of their own nation, despite living in it and it being a priority of the education system, would know that much more about Haiti. I might be wrong, but then again homoeopathy might work.”

    Are you aware that the capabilities of the average Merikan are not the same as the capabilites of every Merikan?

    “What do I have a problem, Mr. Bee, are people who hold an attitude of not giving a shit until it becomes trendy, and then go off on someone for holding that attitude 48 hours long than they did.”
    Saying that shit after a monumental earthquake is at best insanely insensitive. I think, also, that this same situation would come up if he’d slammed people donating to Haiti when they *weren’t* in the throes of a disaster, just because it’s so terrible there. You probably would only see this call to action after a disaster, of course, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reacting differently after a disaster then you do in your day to day life.

  40. #40 Rob Monkey
    January 15, 2010

    You know what? I didn’t really give a shit about New Orleans until Katrina. Why? Because before then they weren’t under 8 feet of goddamn water! Jesus History Punk, I can’t think of a more pointless opinion. “Gasp! Americans weren’t constantly thinking of how to improve Haitians’ lives until the earthquake! That must mean they’re hypocrites for caring about them after the quake!” No, it’s just that a few days ago, they hadn’t had a huge natural disaster! The reason Limblech doesn’t speak for any of us is because when the disaster happened, we actually gave a shit instead of spouting off about how they deserved it (Robertson) or how it was just a political ploy to help them (Limbaugh).

  41. #41 José
    January 15, 2010

    All we hear is how much the world hates America, how much America needs to mind its own business, blah blah blah.

    Well, some people hate it when we do bad stuff,and like it when we do good stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think the percentage of people that actually hate America is small though, even in the Middle East. In my experience, most of the world looks at the United States with some level of admiration, even if they don’t agree with all our policies.

  42. #42 Joya Beebe
    January 15, 2010

    I think Greg’s main point, probably, is that Rush was being a jerk, not that the free speech of jerks really needs to be eliminated. Although, since I don’t know him personally nor that long through the internet, I am not really certain of where Greg draws the line between free speech and inciteful/hate speech – this is a difficult line for anyone to draw; hence why, legally, more than one person must draw it using code and precedent as a guide. My take on Rush’s comments is that his primary insensitivity is that he so values his self-image as a rabble rouser, his ratings, and his own political opinion, that he would immediately use such a basic human tragedy as an opportunity. This to me is the core of why I reacted with revulsion. Yes, I am aware that we humans tend to pillory those we disagree with for anything, while giving the benefit of the doubt on everything to those we agree with. Were Rush to have said, “This is an awful thing, AND I hope the White House doesn’t exploit it as an image-booster,” that would have been at least an arguable point of view, with which one might agree or disagree and remain at the level of reasonable civil discourse. I understand his image is to be shocking. Saying deliberately shocking things occurs on both sides of the political spectrum. Personally, I mostly roll my eyes at it, usually. But that he could not or would not put being human before being self-aggrandizing – this tells me he is not worthy of respect. As for dissuading charity, some of my Republican friends have argued that he personally gives a lot to charity. I cannot confirm nor deny that. Certainly I think there is little room to stand on for those who claim he was not intending to give the message, “don’t give.” I think he knew well what he was saying. It doesn’t matter if he meant it. It’s heartless if he meant it, and heartless if he just said it to keep up his image and make another point on taxes. By the way, the $100 million that is the only firm commitment Obama made publically is nothing. It’s a few blocks of real estate in Southern California. Given that we have over 300 million people in the U.S., it’s essentially 33 cents a person. So that he would say we should begrudge that 33 cents, and not give even the $5 to $10 more that for us is a trip to the drive-through and for a Haitian is a week’s expenses … And even if one wants to look at it from a purely non-emotional point of view, investing 33 cents in goodwill is not only important for our world image, Haiti is in a strategic area, and we could then call on in it obligation, right next to Cuba that was historically such an issue, and so it’s a good investment. [Meanwhile, the $3 billion war effort, which may or may not be the most reasonable thing to continue – I’ll leave that aside for the moment – costs about $1000 per person, and is terrible for our world image, though it is arguable whether it is net positive or negative for our national security.]

  43. #43 Brian X
    January 15, 2010

    wheelbrain:

    When you talk about First Amendment rights regarding radio and TV broadcasting, you run into a few technical issues regarding resource scarcity that print, Internet, and cable TV don’t have to deal with; this scarcity was a big part of the reason for the Fairness Doctrine that Limbaugh is so petrified of. There’s only so much airwave space that can be allocated to each service — FM broadcast is just over 20MHz, while AM is somewhere around 1.2MHz (and less outside the Americas), and TV coverage is in flux due to the decrease in necessary bandwidth for digital broadcasting and the accompanying reclamation of band space by the FCC. Any discussion of broadcast content regulation has to count that into the situation; you could argue the point on sexually charged or violent content, but it’s particularly relevant to political speech and local vs. syndicated content.

    You could perhaps liken it to the situation that sovereign citizen activists with homemade driver’s licenses and plates face when arrested — the Constitution guarantees a right to free travel around the country, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to a car to do it in. You could take a bus or a train. Similarly, Limbaugh (or even more odious people such as Michael Savage) certainly has the right to spew all the bile he wants, but he shouldn’t have that right at the expense of the opposition not having access to the same venue he enjoys, and if he doesn’t like it he can battle Bill O’Reilly to the death for a spot at Fox News.

  44. #44 Rich Wilson
    January 15, 2010

    Every time Limbaugh opens his mouth an angel has an enema.

  45. #45 Raging Bee
    January 15, 2010

    What do I have a problem, Mr. Bee, are people who hold an attitude of not giving a shit until it becomes trendy, and then go off on someone for holding that attitude 48 hours long than they did.

    Did it ever occur to you that no significant portion of any country’s population can give a shit about every trouble-spot 24/7? We’re humans, not saints, with limited multi-tasking abilities; and chances are, in a given day we’ll have certain bad events in certain parts of the world taking our attention away from the rest of the billions of suffering poor people all over the Earth. In the case of America, we have TWO WARS hogging our attention, and the vague possibility of a third, not to mention the economy and environment.

    Also, in case you haven’t noticed, reporters are pretty thinly spread even in the best of times, so some suffering just never gets airtime. Even if everyone listened to Al Jazeera and BBC every day, we’d still not get the up-to-date scoop on ALL the world’s suffering; and if another disaster happened when they weren’t looking, you could then ridicule us for not giving a shit about that far-off corner of the world in advance too.

    Just because some country’s suffering isn’t front and center in our minds today, doesn’t mean we don’t give a shit; nor does it mean our concern is less sincere when we do notice it.

    BTW, we’re not faulting Limbaugh for “holding that attitude 48 hours long than they did,” we’re faulting him for saying something pointless, stupid and insensitive, and for using Haiti’s current troubles as a sounding-board for his own totally unrelated partisan hatred. And no, I don’t think any of us were thinking what Rush said 48 hours before the quake.

  46. #46 Raging Bee
    January 15, 2010

    BTW, when I read the bir about free speech, I thought it was just half-humorous hyperbole. The sentence: “Every time Rush Limbaugh opens his mouth I grow less enamored with the mindless fetish for free speech that permeates American culture.” could easily be read as just another way of saying “Rush Limbaugh gives free speech a bad name.” It’s just a way of epxressing how much the author despises Limbaugh; and we don’t have to trash the Constitution to agree with it.

  47. #47 Observer
    January 15, 2010

    “A journalist asked him “Mr. Gandhi, with your deep knowledge of the East, what is your opinion about Western civilization?” Gandhi is said to have replied: “Actually, I think that would be a very good idea.”

    Posted by: Thinker | January 15, 2010 5:21 AM”

    I remember Ricky Gervais in ‘Politics’ asking why then did he wear glasses, an invention of said civilization?

  48. #48 Anonsters
    January 15, 2010

    FWIW, the 1st Amendment kind of sucks, at least as far as the Supreme Court has interpreted it. The Supreme Court does have a fetish for ripping the guts out of civil liberties, though.

    I propound the following solution for all those growing sick blah blah blah free speech. Don’t post videos of idiots like Limbaugh. Ignore them. Deride them when someone else mentions them to you. Ooooorrrrr, you can stare at it like a slow-motion train wreck and work yourself into such a frustrated and disgusted frenzy at the bottomless deeps of stupidity in our world that you can do nothing more than post a video of Limbaugh and then go stand in the corner and softly weep at the dying of the light.

    Myself, I’ve gone the former way with people like Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and their ilk. I’ve been much happier since.

  49. #49 Jadehawk
    January 15, 2010

    He posted the same screed on PZ Meyers’ blog. He also didn’t back it up there either. He’s not very good at the thing in his title.

    not only that, but he then went on into some derail about how colonialism/imperialism is actually a good thing. so… yeah.

    anyway, back to the OP. It’s indeed a fetish to talk as if there are never supposed to be any consequences to saying stupid, vile shit. That’s not right, and it’s not what the 1st Amendment is about, either. While it’s not acceptable for the government to punish/limit/censor Limbaugh’s ramblings, boycotting, protesting, and even demanding he be fired and similar drastic measures are perfectly legit ways for private individuals to make it clear that they do not agree with him and find his ramblings unacceptable*. As long as the government isn’t involved, it’s not against the 1st Amendment, and it’s a sign if fetishizing free speech when non-governmental reactions to speech are considered unacceptable.

    ——

    *exceptions to this exist, but have more to do with various anti-discrimination laws rather than the 1st Amendment.

  50. #50 dean
    January 15, 2010

    “I remember Ricky Gervais in ‘Politics’ asking why then did he wear glasses, an invention of said civilization?”

    A rather snarky statement. It would seem that, like many, many, devices, glasses didn’t just pop into being all at once, but were the eventual result of the same observations and inventions made and lost in many places over many years. There are writings from the time of Nero that point toward the use of a clear bowl of water as a magnifying device to aid in reading. The date of the earliest known evidence of a “magnifying device, a convex lens forming a magnified image”, and the name of the person who published it are noted here:

    Corrective lenses were said to be used by Abbas Ibn Firnas in the 9th century,[5] who had devised a way to produce very clear glass. These glasses could be shaped and polished into round rocks used for viewing and were known as reading stones. The earliest evidence of “a magnifying device, a convex lens forming a magnified image,” dates back to the Book of Optics published by Alhazen in 1021. Its translation into Latin in the 12th century was instrumental to the invention of eyeglasses in 13th century Italy.[3]

    Alhazen was from Iraq (present-day Basra area).

    Hardly seems fair, or reasonable, to say glasses were “invented” in western civilization.
    I’m not knocking western civilization; I’m always a little distressed at the blanket assumption that anything useful had to have been the result of the efforts of one particular group.

  51. #51 Anonsters
    January 16, 2010

    I hasten to add that I don’t disagree with Jadehawk @ #49 and others who have pointed out that the 1st Amendment is not implicated here.

    My point was rather simply that it makes life sweeter to exclude from one’s consciousness teh stoopidz.

    I do, however, disagree that there is any fetishizing of the 1A going on. I don’t think you can fetishize something you patently misunderstand, although you can, of course, fetishize your patent misunderstanding of the thing. So it’s not the 1A that’s being fetishized. It’s people’s widespread misunderstanding of the 1A that’s being fetishized. The 1A itself is simply being misunderstood.

    Of course, having said all that, I also happen to think that the state action doctrine is a load of horsepoo.

  52. #52 Norris Hall
    January 17, 2010

    Rush Limbaugh is coming across as a bitter angry man with a grudge.
    Instead of appealing for donations to aid one of the most devastating catastrophes in our hemisphere, Rush launches an attack against the president accusing obama of using the earthquake to score political points and of siphoning aid money for his political war chest.
    Only those with the most twisted minds could agree with him.
    Limbaugh has spent so much his time trying to characterize the President as Adolf Hitler that he can\’t deal with it when Obama , like everyone else, wants to find a way to help in Haiti.
    Instead of joining with the president (as former President Bush has done) in encouraging people to help he has actually hurt the relief effort by planting doubt in people\’s minds that their money would be pocketed by the Obama administration.

    Limbaugh should apologize and begin collecting money on his show for the relief efforts.

    He should make a strong statement to his listeners that Haiti is going through the worst natural disaster in modern history and that as citizens of the world we should all do as much as we can to help the citizens of Haiti.

    He ought to devote an entire day to raising funds.

    How he can support the life of the unborn on one hand and spend valuable air time criticizing the President for trying to help starving, thirsty homeless children is beyond me

  53. #53 HDenise
    January 19, 2010

    I have not and will not help haitians. I don’t want any more haitians here. There are many of them in Brooklyn, N.Y. and have turned beautiful neighborhoods into filth laden ghettos. If Obama wants them here, let them all move into the White House with him, Michelle the Muscle Man and the rest of them. Then after his term is over, he can take all the haitians back to Kenya where he was born.

  54. #54 anon
    January 19, 2010

    HDenise, atheists like you are a bad example.

  55. #55 Stephanie Z
    January 19, 2010

    anon, why would you ever assume HDenise is an atheist?

  56. #56 anon
    January 19, 2010

    We should let HDenise settle that question, don’t you think?

  57. #57 Stephanie Z
    January 19, 2010

    anon, I didn’t ask about HDenise, and I didn’t say s/he isn’t an atheist. I asked about your assumption.

  58. #58 anon
    January 19, 2010

    I don’t know if HDenise is an atheist. I was assuming HDenise was a Christian, and I was prodding HDenise (him or her) to admit that. However I don’t think that is going to happen now.

  59. #59 Observer
    January 19, 2010

    “I don’t want any more haitians here.”

    Came across some interesting figures recently. Apparently investigations of the fiscal impacts of immigration, by the National Research Council, found that low-skill immigration costs $120.000 per immigrant, in 2009 dollars. This was using the over-optimistic assumption that immigrants 100% converged to natives in 3 generations (not true empirically).

    So the fiscal cost of 50% of Haiti immigrating to the US would be $600 billion. That is comparable to the direct costs of the Iraq war so far.

  60. #60 Stephanie Z
    January 19, 2010

    Interesting, the one NRC document I find on the economic effects of immigration says, “the vast majority of Americans are enjoying a healthier economy as the result of the increased supply of labor and lower prices that result from immigration.”

  61. #61 Greg Laden
    January 19, 2010

    Having lived for a few years in a Haitian neighborhood I’d say that it would have been a bad idea to restrict immigration. The Haitians totally swamped out the long term local right wingers that were very annoying in that area.

  62. #62 HDenise
    January 20, 2010

    I’m far from an atheist. You must walk in my shoes if you critize. I am surrounded by Haitians. Would you like your next door neighbor throwing his garbage out of a window? Would you like that garbage all over your neighborhood streets? Would you like to hear music blasting at 3:00 a.m.? Would you like to see 5 women dancing in the street at night, while one of their little kids are walking in the streets with cars passing? Want me to go on and on? Not all haitians are like this, but 95% are. Besides this, they knock babies out like rabbits then cry that their kids are dying from lack of food. Stop opening your legs to any gorilla that passes.

  63. #63 Vanessa
    January 21, 2010

    You know all are you people are so close minded. Ya only think the world is about y’all only, guess what when your what have happen in Haiti could of happen anywhere,Haiti is curse blah blah and blah, ya irritates me, you guys judge people by they cover some of you guys are even making things up to say about Haiti for God sake.You know whats funny is that all of you guys are adults, the one that should be setting an example but instead a sixteen years old can view thing beyond what the answer to the question is all about. I wonder if you guys will stop being racist and realize that it doesn’t matter what you do or say, because in front of God you nothing but the dirt and you will always be the dirt.To paraphrase you nothing you wont b living here forever, one day you’ll b dead. Furthermore you guys saying Haiti is cursed and blah blah Haitians are going to hell. Oh please like you guys going to heaven. Just so you know HDenise probably you the one who opens your legs to Gorillas and i done know that Haitians don’t throw they garbage out of the window stop making things up. Why cant you see that a way of God putting us on a test to see how we help our neighbors. My question to you is do you know how you will fade away from the face of earth. I’ll keep you with that question in mind. Stop judging people by the way they look. If i describe as a stupid, idiot, close minded, pig, would you be fond of that. I know you wouldn’t be the things you don’t like people to call you these words you wont be fun off don’t say them to other people. All of you guys who commented stupid comment about Haiti act like you guys know every single Haitians that existed. You know what I’ll let God do the rest of the talk. Haitians people are not the only one who will b punish. Yours is not fa behind. Anyways you guys doesn’t know all Haitians people that ever exist in this world. Don’t say all of them are the same. If you have something negative to say don’t post them, these words are hurting many, and many of those people wouldn’t wish to say something bad to you like this. Just so you guys know we all are brothers and sisters in front of God without our skin color or differences.

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