The Risible and Contemptible Rush Limbaugh

Post by Jim Newman


Rush has finally gone overboard and regrets it? I am not so sure. He seems to love the excitement. He carefully words his apologies so they are not—gee, I’m sorry you feel offended—a trick most kids learn in Middle School. Rush is risky. Oral sex is not real sex, right. It’s not the act, it’s the lying—huh? Regretting words and not actions is politically astute.

Recently I read stockbrokers are more likely to take risks than psychopaths.

“A clinical psychopath is bright, gregarious and charming, writes DeCovny. He lies easily and often, and may have trouble feeling empathy for other people. He’s probably also more willing to take dangerous risks — either because he doesn’t understand the consequences, or because he simply doesn’t care.

Tracking this back to a Swiss study in a Spiegel article

“Naturally one can’t characterize the traders as deranged,” Noll told SPIEGEL. “But for example, they behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test.”

Doesn’t this explain radio personalities like Rush, Howard Stern, Don Imus, Laura Shlesinger, and even TV rot like Dr Phil, Springer, and Oprah? It seems like they are way too willing to offend people. They seem to thrive on emotional stress.

Another study shows Emergency Services Personnel use sick jokes to help alleviate stress; as do military personnel.

“The act of producing humor, of making a joke, gives us a mental break and increases our objectivity in the face of overwhelming stress,” says Rosenberg. For people in jobs that require quick and accurate decision-making, humor’s distancing effect makes it easier to maintain focus and competency.

However, jokes may not alleviate aggression but exacerbate it—which is the point if you are channeling aggression into energy. I certainly write angrily because I am offended at injustice and this is the best way for me to fight back. Sometimes it helps my day, sometimes the opposite.

“A third aspect of humour theories is that humour provides a release for aggression although there is uncertainty about whether aggression is reduced or increased by the more overtly aggressive humour. If aggressive humour occurs in emergency work it may be more likely to be directed at an organisation rather than an emergency situation. Indeed, humour in most organisational contexts commonly reflects an aggressive component at least some of the time.

Yet another article states that people who say they thrive on stress are mentally sick. Hans Selye, the founder of stress studies disagrees indicating that stress ands its hormone cortisol have value.

“He saw stress as “the salt of life.” Change was inevitable, and worrying about it was the flip side of thinking creatively and carefully about it, something that only a brain with a lot of prefrontal cortex can do well. Stress, then, was what made us human—a conclusion that Selye managed to reach by examining rats.

Finally, this recent study on twins shows correspondence to personality in genetics.

“Although it is likely that we are driven to react strongly to perceived threats against values partly because of their connection to our social environment, the present evidence indicates that such reactions may also be driven by deep-seated connections to our personality and the biological fibres of our being.

Does our voice create us or do we find the voice that best fits us?

Rush was born into a Republican family and began radio at age 16, and continued in radio. His mother said

“he flunked everything”, and “he just didn’t seem interested in anything except radio.”

Rush Limbaugh signed an 8 year 400 Million dollar contract in 2008 for Clear Channel. He eschews guests. He is not interested in engagement with others but rather self display.

His show is the most popular, most famous talk show in radio history. Clearly, millions, perhaps 15 million people agree with him or at least continue to listen to him.

Bill Mahrer even confused us with his support of Rush when he tweeted:

“Hate to defend #RushLimbaugh but he apologized, liberals looking bad not accepting. Also hate intimidation by sponsor pullout.”

But then we laugh with Mahrer when he attacks religion but chastise him on vaccinations and women. Even Nixon created the EPA. People are not monolithic characters.

Astute commentators have noted the viciousness is felt more because Fluke is a common citizen; we expect public figures to be attacked.

“An attorney says that Georgetown law School student Sandra Fluke could “definitely” sue Republican talk show host Rush Limbaugh for slander because she does not fit the legal definition of a public figure.

Christopher Hitchens certainly was an abuser of emotions to make his point and no fan of political correctness.

“What a country, and what a culture, when the liberals cry before they are hurt, and the reactionaries pose as brave nonconformists, while the radicals make a fetish of their own jokey irrelevance.

It is not enough to “have” free speech. People must learn to speak freely. Noam Chomsky remarked in the sixties about the short-life ultra-radicals on campus who thought that Marx should have been burning down the British Museum rather than writing and thinking in it. The less political descendants of that faction have now tried to reduce life to a system of empowerment etiquette, and have wasted a lot of their own time and everyone else’s in the process. But the real bridle on our tongues is imposed by the everyday lying and jargon, sanctioned and promulgated at the highest levels of media and politics, and not by the awkward handful who imagine themselves revolutionaries.

Robert Helbling in his book the “Power of Negative Thinking; the Grotesque in the Modern World” emphasizes the importance of negative talk and experience in its ability to support what is considered to be, deeply, a more moral experience.

My mother always maintained that a joke always made fun of someone, and always had an aspect of rudeness or lack of compassion within it. Either, one made a self deprecating joke, or a direct attack.

OK, that was gratuitous.

Rush and other radcons are contemptible not because of how they say it but because they believe it and what they believe is foul. A slut is by definition a person who has sex out of wed lock. A prostitute, according to old time feminists, is also a woman who stays in a bad relationship for tangible reasons. The sex tape thing was a wish of his that betrayed his virulent desire to see her screwed; a projection of his sexual repression into an aggressive desire for her conquest, and then published for public ridicule and further conquest.

Hitchens writes in his review Michael Lind’s book “The Next American Nation,”

“Mr. Lind is one of the few contemporary writers to have noticed the salient fact that identity politics is a perfect pretext for the traditional practice of divide-and-rule. How convenient it is, from the point of view of the oligarchs, that the saps should be tussling among themselves about second-order grievances like political correctness.”

We get hung up on the words to avoid discussing the issues. While some may say the words open the door, the visible issue with Rush has been his words and not the salience that he is an utter asshole, to whom 15 million Americans listen and love each week.

We should really be looking at the obscene yet risible insistence that all sex out of marriage is a sin.  We need to deal with the power of men controlling women’s lives. It’s only been a couple of generations since men decided women could vote. One of the greatest horror of most religions, including Buddhism, is they emphasize female oppression and estrangement.

Several stories have come out, what about the men? Why aren’t they mad at Rush? Unfortunately, many liberal and leftist men are still misogynist assholes. They may think it is not their issue in order to hide their insane desire to control women more obliquely.

Additionally, many conservative women still want control of family planning. Not every conservative woman is a Stepford Wife, a Sarah Palin, or a Rose Carter.

If men wanted sex more as they often claim perhaps they would rise to this occasion and insist that women be free from the worry, every time they engage, they could be procreating.

History, written by the winners, dictates social humor and taboo. Let’s rewrite the rules such that it is the context and the word– the experience, the philosophy–and not just the words that matter. Rush is an asshole all the way to the core but he accurately reflects a huge chunk of the population in its sincere belief that sex out of wedlock is evil and the main cause of social turpitude. If conservatives do it, it is because they are weak, inherent sinners, and need to repent, and go sin again. Even lusting is the sin.

Still, men and women have a too human relation to bipolar aggression and its usefulness in society–another post. What we accept in ourselves, we don’t in whom we consider outsiders, for good reasons.

Jim Newman, bright and well

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