On the Death of Decency in Discourse
Among the most depressing and upsetting news of recent days has been the
disgusting outbreak of crass racism and threats of violence aimed at
lawmakers, and the families of lawmakers. Among the most vile of these
acts have been death threats made against legislators' children. The
despicable cowards responsible for these outrages may not have any
actual plans to carry out their threats, but they know that a man or
woman who might face threats against themselves with a certain
sang-froid is a lot less likely to be able to where their children are
I blame Rush Limbaugh for this depravity.
Ever since Limbaugh took to the airwaves with his take-no-prisoners
style of rhetoric, since imitated by Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glen
Beck, Ann Coulter and others, he has given energy and validation to the
worst elements of our society. Limbaugh may not realize it, but he is
far and away the favorite media personality of the white criminal class.
I say this of my own knowledge. When I still practiced law, I did
criminal defense work and got to know many of my clients rather well.
Murderers, rapists, robbers, drug dealers-they all LOVE Rush Limbaugh.
They hang on his every word. Why? Because he speaks their language,
because they know the code. When Limbaugh talks about "welfare cheats"
they nod sagely and say, "Yah, damn n*gg*rs!" This of course, ignoring
that fact that many of THEM are on "disability" because they are drug
addicts or alcoholics--. When Limbaugh excoriates "femiNazis," it's
"Yah, uppity b*tch*s!" -where "uppity b*tch" is defined as any female
that won't put out for them. Because of Limbaugh and his ilk, these
people, who have committed every crime in the book, feel privileged to
refer to the President, the First Lady, the Secretary of State, the
Speaker of the House, in terms they would not use to describe crack
whores of their personal acquaintance.
These people are not "dittoheads" or members of any online community. A
lot of them can't read and don't own a computer. They are frightening
because they are the natural Brownshirts, the ones that you would
recruit to break up a demonstration, to break heads and bust kneecaps,
to toss bricks or flaming bottles through a window at night. And they
are the ones who sit home alone, tolling up their grievances, fondling
their guns, and thinking about what they might do if they ever go close
enough to certain people.
I do not say that all their grievances are not legitimate. The common
people have much to be angry about, but to encourage them to jeer and to
smear, to curse and to threaten, is destructive, not constructive. To
trivialize such behavior as "blowing off steam" is despicable toadying
on the part of would-be movement leaders, and it is a black day in
American politics when anyone would stoop to curry favor by trying to
justify such incidents.