When Rush Limbaugh is called out for saying something morally reprehensible, he claims he's using "absurdity" to fight "absurdity." But unlike smarter and much funnier satirists like Sasha Baron Cohen, Limbaugh is treated as a serious political commentator by conservatives, the mainstream media, and amazingly, a large number of our elected officials. And yet Limbaugh is well known for making factually inaccurate statements, particularly in areas of science and history. He also says some pretty offensive stuff regarding race, women, homosexuals, and perhaps most unforgivably, professional football. Here are eight choice remarks from the man Ted Koppel called, "An icon to millions of conservative listeners around the country."
"(Feminism) did start with the premise that men and women are the same, and the only thing that makes women subservient to men is that men have run things, so we gotta get rid of men running 'cause we're gonna run things."
This comes from a transcript of Limbaugh's March 5, 2012 radio show titled "How Feminism Screwed up the Sexes." A man called in to discuss with Limbaugh how traumatizing it had been for him in high school to be taught that men and women were equal. Apparently, he had been taught in the classroom that opening a door for a woman was demeaning to the woman. The caller, a Chinese-food delivery man, tells Rush: "You know, I felt like if I approached a woman, I was a monster, just for approaching them." Ladies, whenever you order Chinese take-in, please keep the chain on your door.
"It has not been proven that nicotine is addictive, the same with cigarettes causing emphysema [and other diseases]."
Limbaugh, who loves a good cigar, shared this bit of misinformation on his radio show April 29, 1994. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported back in 2000 that a single cigar provides as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. And nicotine's addictiveness has been reported since the turn of the century. The link between smoking and chronic disease is made explicit in the Surgeon General's warning included on the packaging of cigarettes. But remember, comedian Denis Leary once said cigarettes could be packaged in "a black pack, with a skull and a cross bone on the front…" and smokers would still buy them.
"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. … This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."
The disease Limbaugh refers to in this quote from his Oct. 23, 2006 radio show, is Parkinson's disease. Actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's, is an effective spokesman and advocate for research to find a cure. Fox to his credit, ignored Limbaugh's statement at the time, simply stating, "It's ironic, given some of the things that have been said in the last couple days, that my pills are working really well."
"Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."
This quote comes from a list of several quotes Limbaugh provided to the Sacramento Union in 1987 under the title "35 Undeniable Truths of Life." Perhaps we should add a number 36 to include, as an undeniable truth, the establishment of talk radio to allow unattractive men to nationally broadcast their unattractive opinions without the fear of actually having to confront the subjects of their rants face-to-face?
"So urinating on yourself — urinating on other people, creating diseases, spreading diseases — that's something you people want to have the right to do, and it's insulting when people tell you that you ought to clean up? Is that what you want us to believe? Because they do. It's exactly it."
Even taken in context, in this case, the transcript of Limbaugh's Nov. 21, 2011 radio show, this quote is a real head scratcher. Limbaugh began this show quoting fellow fathead Newt Gingrich on the Occupy Wall Street movement as saying, "All the Occupy movement starts with is the premise that we all owe them everything." Newt doesn't clarify who "we" is, but Limbaugh runs with it, insisting that the agenda of the Occupy movement is to secure the right of its members to urinate on each other without having to clean up afterward. Which begs the question of how this image of people urinating on each other got into Limbaugh's head, but what you do in your private life, and Gingrich would probably agree with this, should remain private.
"Black unemployment is terrible. The black frame of mind is terrible, they're depressed, they're down — Obama's not doing anything for 'em. How is that hoax and change workin' for ya? They're all livid … And I'm sure Tiger Woods' choice of females is not helping 'em out with their attitudes there either."
From his Dec. 8, 2009 radio broadcast, "On the Black State of Mind." Where Limbaugh found data that speaks to a collective, all-encompassing, yet quantifiable "black state of mind," i.e. the emotional health of every black person in the United States, is anyone's guess. Like professional football, as you'll read in the next item, Limbaugh's lack of knowledge and compassion for whatever subject he chooses to talk about is rarely taken to task by his listeners and conservatives. If you're loud, obnoxious, and host a heavily financed radio show, you can almost convince people you actually know what you are talking about.
"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."
Limbaugh's knowledge of professional sports is pretty limited. He's probably given some respect by his listeners for his football commentary only because he physically resembles a lot of NFL fans and at least one coach. Limbaugh compared NFL players to Crips and Bloods gang members on his radio show back in January 2007. He didn't clarify which specific players reminded him of Crips or Bloods, so we can only assume Eli Manning, Brett Favre, and Drew Brees had him seeing blue and red. And then there's that original gangsta, Tim Tebow…
"If we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."
This knee slapper is part of Limbaugh's now infamous Feb. 29, 2012 rant where he called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, who testified at a Congressional hearing Republicans held about women's health, a "slut" and a "prostitute." Limbaugh was taking issue with the fact that Fluke advocates that birth control pills be covered by university health care plans. In Limbaugh's world, women who take birth control pills have sex, and women who have sex are "sluts" and "prostitutes." Limbaugh neglected to mention that Fluke pointed out in her testimony that birth control pills can be prescribed as a means of controlling and treating serious health issues.