I know, I know. I shouldn’t write this.
Not because this man’s devout followers will inevitably descend upon this blog post like jackals. (Do your frickin’ worst. I’ll even leave your troll comments here. I won’t delete them, as long as you utilize Webster’s Dictionary and leave the four-letter bombs out of it. It’ll say so much more about you than it’ll say about this essay.)
I shouldn’t write this because of how much I admired the object of this man’s nonsensical armchair psychoanalysis.
I shouldn’t write this because I think maybe this man didn’t get enough attention from his mommy, so he’s got to compensate now. (Speaking of compensation. Big man. Impressive. Bring others down, even if they’re dead – before they’re even buried. Way to prove your manhood.)
I shouldn’t write this because of this man’s raging case of psychological projection.
I shouldn’t write this at all, because by writing about this man, I will merely spread the public awareness of him – of his offensive remarks, and of his very existence as a media figure and as a miserable human being – to more people than he frankly deserves.
But I just spent a couple of weeks with fine people, teaching other potentially fine people how to march and how to conduct and how to error-detect-and-correct but most importantly how important it is to be decent to each other because that’s the best way to start getting positive things accomplished, and then I’ve got to return to the world of this?
“Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday tied Robin Williams’ death, which sheriffs believe was a suicide, to the ‘leftist worldview.’
“A caller on Limbaugh’s radio show lamented how much coverage the media has given to Williams rather than to other news stories, and asked Limbaugh, ‘What do you think the political reason for their doing this is?’
“The conservative radio host first discussed his concern that people commit suicide for the attention.
“‘The thing I worry about, I really do, they’re making such heroism out of this that I hope it doesn’t inspire a lot of copycats by people seeking the same kind of fame,’ he said. ‘To kill yourself is one way to get the media to spend a lot of time talking about you, if you want to be talked about.’
“He then said he didn’t think that the media’s coverage of Williams was driven by politics, but he said it was a factor.
“‘But I don’t think that the politics is driving it. I think there was, on the part of media and Hollywood, genuine affection for the guy that is driving it, but there is politics,’ he said. ‘If you notice the coverage is focused on how much he had, but it wasn’t enough.’
“‘Now, what is the left’s worldview in general? What is it? If you had to attach not a philosophy but an attitude to a leftist worldview, it’s one of pessimism and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy, are they? They’re always angry about something. No matter what they get, they’re always angry,’ Limbaugh continued. ‘They are animated in large part by the false promises of America, because the promises of America are not for everyone, as we see each and every day.’
“The story behind Williams death, fits with liberals’ outlook on the world, according to Limbaugh.
“‘He made everybody else laugh but was miserable inside. I mean, it fits a certain picture, or a certain image that the left has,’ he said. ‘Talk about low expectations and general unhappiness and so forth.’”
Talk about it, indeed.
Rush needs to shut up.
Sorry. As a kid I was told that this phrase is not the one we ought to use. And perhaps it was my initial, knee-jerk, snap-judgment response. So, to my teachers and my parents, I say, sorry.
Ordinarily I would now suggest many possible behavioral adjustments that might make Rush’s life better, happier, more productive – as well as the lives of anyone who chances to listen to him, on purpose or not.
Ordinarily I might go on for a bit about the Golden Rule … or the concept of empathy … or the concept of compassion … or at the very least the idea that knee-jerk reactions and snap judgments usually are made without all the proper information that would otherwise better inform the reacting or judging person.
Ordinarily I might express how appalled I am that some people, particularly those in position to shout it from the media rooftops (who are therefore not only prone to shout but paid to shout), cannot see past their own profession or their own beliefs, and thus cannot avoid making everything all about politics, all the time. Right-wingers commit suicide, too, y’know. So do centrists. So do people who don’t give a wet slap about politics. So do people who perceive that they have been placed in unsolvable situations by the beliefs and policy decisions of other people, about whom they can do nothing.
Ordinarily I would do those things, because I’m a teacher (but also, I hope, because I’m an okay human being). My job is to deal with children who haven’t been on earth a super-long time. Who maybe haven’t grasped these ideas, not by any fault of their own, other than they’ve not had a lot of experience, comparatively, with these ideas. My job – my instinct – is to try to present these thoughts, make these suggestions, in such a way that they might take away a fresh perspective, that they might learn from them. Not because I told them so, but because these ideas contribute to decent and civilized human relations, and also their lives may be less stressful if they keep them in mind.
Rush has been on earth for sixty-three years now. You’d think he would have grasped some of these, either through personal experience or observation of others or something.
Maybe it’s an entertainment-industry persona. Maybe if you actually talk to the guy, he comes off as not “radio Rush” but “human-being Rush”. Maybe, to paraphrase a favorite fictional character, he does care about anything, or anyone.
After all, we are now being treated to anecdotes about Robin Williams’ off-stage persona – for example, how, even though he was a “wild and crazy guy” on stage, he always expressed a caring attitude toward stagehands and production assistants and other entertainment-industry “little people”. American entertainment is littered with examples of people who were one thing on stage, and another when the lights went down.
So I’d like to leave open that possibility in Rush’s case.
But the problem is, movie stars’ performances mostly inspire their fans and followers to admire them, and to go see another of their movies. I don’t know how many people watch, say, Tom Hardy as Bane or Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter … and then go out and treat other people the same horrible way, just because they saw and heard what remarkable things those actors did to make those characters come to life.
Y’know … I was about to suggest that Rush is in a different position within society, one in which his on-stage behavior – the way he says things and what he actually says – does have the opportunity to encourage his fans and followers to think and feel certain things and then to go and act on those beliefs, to behave in ways that do dramatically affect other people’s lives – regardless of whether he’s a good or awful person away from the spotlight.
But I don’t think that’s fair, because you can take that last paragraph, rip out the name “Rush” and plug in the name “Mother Theresa” or “the Pope” or name-your-universally-beloved-public-figure … and the paragraph would still be true. Charles Barkley once said that just because he was a successful NBA basketball player, that didn’t mean he felt he should be seen as a role model. To which I remember saying, sorry, man, it’s out of your hands.
Instead, perhaps, my thoughts boil down to this:
And unfortunately, because I’m probably not the only person who will pen a scathing reply to your utterance, you will not be encouraged to heed this advice. Quite the contrary.
And yeah, I’m a little bit of a leftist and you just damn well bet I’m angry, but not for the reasons your political stripe causes you to believe.
I’m angry at you.
I’m angry at what you say, and how you say it, and how it belittles the people that you don’t like, and how it encourages other people to behave inhumanely. Damn right I’m angry at you.
But I’m not so angry that I would wish physical or other harm upon you, no indeed. My worldview is not so dark that I think that physical violence solves anything, or that I think people who believe differently than I do are automatically evil or “takers” or drains on society or any of the rest of that crap that we’ve been subjected to for some time now.
But I’ve been subjected to it for long enough now, I think.
So, Rush, just stop.
Don’t stop and think.
Don’t stop and consider.
Don’t stop and then issue an apology, or revise your statement, or claim you didn’t mean or even didn’t really say such a thing.