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.
People think of Mark Twain as a kindly uncle with a twinkle in his eye. Actually, Twain’s humor–especially in his later life–had a dark underbelly. “The Mysterious Stranger” and “Letters from the Earth” mercilessly skewered religion. But even the relatively light “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has such moments. For example, Huck describes the pigs who go into the local church during the week to get cool: “If you notice, most folks don’t go to church only when they’ve got to; but a hog is different.” (101)
“Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope.'”
“I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.” (Watch George Carlin rant about voting.)
The news reports after Carlin’s death, though, focused on how much people loved Carlin’s riff on seven words you can’t say on television. Maybe that’s because the public was ready to hear that message and much less ready to hear what he thought about religion and politics. Darrin Bell, the writer of Candorville, thinks so (follow the links to large, easy to read versions of these two strips):
He means we deserve Claire and Barack folding on FISA? Yes. I listened to newsmen on Diane Rehm’s Friday News Roundup recently talking about Obama caving on that issue. They calmly explained that he had figured the political calculus and done himself some good by being seen as a moderate. No one so much as mentioned the Constitutional damage being done. The discussion was all and only about the numbers. Obama isn’t voting for new citizens. He’s dealing with the selfish, ignorant ones he’s been given.