So I leave Missouri for a week and guess what happens when my back is, figuratively speaking, turned? The Speaker of the Missouri House, Steve Tilley, decides that Rush Limbaugh, who just made headlines for particularly vile behavior in regard to women, deserves to be enshrined in the State Capital’s Hall of Famous Missourians along with such significant individuals as Dred Scott and Buck O’Neil. Which is to say, Speaker Tilley has decided to join Limbaugh and spit in the faces of Missouri’s women. The irony is, of course, that Tilley, partisan GOPer though he may be, has something of a reputation for inspiring a more civil tone in the House than has been the case in the recent past. Oh well …. score zero for civility and one for the triumphant GOP zeitgeist.
Tilley seems to think that celebrity, distasteful as Limbaugh’s may be, is sufficient justification for one of the state’s signal honors. By that standard, Missouri ought to put a bust of Ma Barker in the Statehouse – she was born in Springfield, after all, and is still as much a byword as Limbaugh.
A defiant Tilley claims that to deny Limbaugh a place in the capital’s gallery of honored sons and daughters would be giving in to “intolerance,” because “many of the honorees … are “people who in their time said controversial things or took controversial actions.” To think that Limbaugh can be compared to other “controversial” Missourians that Tilley cites, people like “Mark Twain, former Gov. Warren Hearnes and John Ashcroft,” is insane. Each of those men, whether or not you agree with the views they expressed, were individuals who devoted serious effort to thinking about either public good, as in the case of the two statesmen, or the nature of the human condition. How could a reasonable person claim that Limbaugh – a nasty-tempered bully who made a fortune exploiting the prejudices of a few of the more mean-spirited souls on the right – belongs in such a group. I mean, really, can you imagine comparing Mark Twain and Rush Limbaugh?
As for Dred Scott and Buck O’Neil, the two African-Americans who will be honored, it’s probably a good thing they are no longer with us. I imagine they suffered enough from the behavior of men like Limbaugh during their lives; it’s a shame that they are to be sullied by association with him in death. Limbaugh, after all, does not only consistently revile women, but is notorious for such racist remarks about African-Americans as:
They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?
Just think about the chutzpah it takes to lump O’Neil into a group with the man who famously declared:
Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.
So I say to Speaker Tilley, as far as I’m concerned, this sort of nastiness, which is all Limbaugh has to offer, goes way beyond controversial, and I’m ashamed that anyone in my state thinks not only that it’s acceptable, but that it deserves to be honored.
Last sentence of 2nd paragraph moved to third paragraph to increase stylistic clarity.