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Hello all, Dave Muscato here, and I’m going to talk to you today about Rush Limbaugh.
Sure, you’ve heard his name. You’ve heard reports about some of the things he’s said. He’s been in the news lately for two reasons especially: for calling Sandra Fluke a “prostitute” and a “slut,” and for being inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians at the Missouri State Capitol. For each inductee, there is a bust of the person in the foyer, right between the rooms where the House and Senate meet. Other famous Missourians represented here with busts include Samuel Clemens (pen name: Mark Twain), Sacajawea (who appears on the United States $1 coin), writer Dale Carnegie, President Harry S Truman, Walt Disney, scientist/inventor George Washington Carver, saxophonist Charlie Parker, astronomer Edwin Hubble, and 30 others.
The initial announcement of Limbaugh’s consideration for induction pissed a lot of people off, especially Missouri’s Democratic lawmakers, who signed a letter protesting the selection. Limbaugh is a major advocate of conservative Christianity and right-wing politics, despite being married 4 times (divorced 3) himself. His on-air accuracy has been called into question by Senator Al Franken and others. Quoting the previous link:
A defense fund report authored by Princeton University endowed geoscience professor Michael Oppenheimer and professor of biology David Wilcove lists 14 significant scientific facts that, the authors allege, Limbaugh misrepresented in his book The Way Things Ought to Be. The authors conclude that “Rush Limbaugh … allows his political bias to distort the truth about a whole range of important scientific issues.”
Limbaugh was also, during a period in the early 2000s, a drug addict. He was arrested and charged with “doctor shopping” (seeing multiple doctors for the same condition for the purpose of obtaining duplicate prescriptions, usually for narcotic painkillers, without notifying each doctor that another doctor is already treating the condition).
I am barely scratching the surface with this guy. Feel free to poke around Google for more info. He is a hateful man, a shock jock who says anything he wants so long as it gets attention, and he has seemingly no problem with making up information, or at least with failing to fact-check. He is not a role model, unless you desire to be a bigot.
The reason for the title of this article is that there is another English word that fits the bill much more appropriately:
Rush Limbaugh is not famous. He is infamous.
There is an important difference. Famous means “much talked about; well-known; honored for achievement; celebrated.” Infamous means “having a reputation of the worst kind; notorious as being of vicious, contemptible, or criminal character; having a bad name as being associated with something disgraceful or detestable” (see citations below).
Limbaugh is vicious. He is contemptible. He is — literally — a criminal. He is a disgrace to journalistic integrity, and I detest him for what he has done (and is doing) to twist and poison the minds of his listeners with false information and heavily-spun political rhetoric and bias.
As someone originally born in Missouri, and as someone who has lived here 26 out of my 28 years, this really pisses me off. I remember going to the State Capitol in Jeff City on elementary school field trips and seeing the Hall of Famous Missourians. It was inspiring. It was exhilarating. I am angry that the excitement I felt as a kid, visiting the Hall for the first time, will be contaminated, corrupted, poisoned in this way for future generations of young Missourians.
The person who selected Limbaugh for inclusion in the Hall, House Speaker Steven Tilley, when asked about the choice in a radio interview I heard Monday on our local NPR station, said that (paraphrasing) although some people may not agree with the choice, the Hall of Famous Missourians is intended for famous people who are from, or heavily associated with, the state of Missouri (emphasis in original). He stressed that not everyone likes the same celebrities, but that doesn’t mean Limbaugh isn’t deserving of this. In other words (my words), it’s not a Hall of Heroes; it’s a Hall of Well-Known People from this state.
Tilley took some extra heat on Monday following the induction ceremony, because the time and date of the ceremony was not made public until literally 20 minutes before it began. Unlike previous induction ceremonies, which have been open to the public and to other members of the House & Senate, this was an invitation-only ceremony, with armed Highway Patrol officers guarding the room. Democratic lawmakers were not invited. Republican members of the House & Senate & their staff attended, as well as Limbaugh and his entourage.
Representative Tilley, I have a suggestion for your next inductee:
How about inducting the outlaw Jesse James?
Jesse James was a gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer who was assassinated at the age of 34 by a member of his own gang, Robert Ford, in an attempt to collect a state reward for his head. He became a legend of the Wild West. There are a half-dozen museums dedicated to him. He is a very high-profile figure of Missouri history and symbolic of an entire era in the history of the the post-Civil War United States. He is arguably one of the most “famous” people ever to come from the great State of Missouri. There was even a major Hollywood movie made about him in 2007, starring A-list actor Brad Pitt.
I personally do not see Jesse james as much of a role model, but surely someone as well-known as he deserves a place in the Hall of Famous Missourians.
Looking forward to your response.
“famous.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (17 May 2012).
“infamous.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (17 May 2012).
Until next time,
Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is http://www.DaveMuscato.com.
and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!