Rush to Judgment

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One of the most nauseating memes in the otherwise enjoyable story of Rush Limbaugh's exposure as a pill-popping hypocrite is the idea that the formerly zaftig radio god has somehow shown "courage" by admitting that he has a substance-abuse problem.

(Full disclosure: Rush has had kind things to say about Reason, once even declaring on air [scroll down], "You want a good magazine? Reason magazine… It's a magazine for libertarians. It's a magazine for everybody. It's a magazine for the world. Reason magazine: A good, good magazine." Around here, we like to think it wasn't just the OxyContin talking.)

This Sunday, the Fox News gang–especially Fred Barnes (surprise!)–spoke of Rush's "courage" and gave him props for publicly admitting that he was a gentleman junkie. Yesterday, in National Review Online, Jay Nordlinger recasts Rush as a latter-day Stoic, writing:

[T]here is a lot of virtue in him.

In fact, it's amazing how he carried on during the period of his addiction ? coupled with the loss of his hearing. He was addicted to pills, felt his hearing slipping away, until it left him entirely ? and he carried on manfully in public, doing his show, retaining his poise, never complaining, never whining. And now he has looked his monster in the eye and is taking care of it.

Please. I've never subscribed to Al Franken's view that Rush is a big fat idiot (or, post-diet, simply an idiot). At his best–that is, before he became a de facto mouthpiece for the Republican party during the first Bush administration–Rush was pretty funny and an interesting, bracing figure on the American pop cult landscape.

But to suggest that it's courageous or brave for Rush to fess up to an addiction after being outed by his housekeeper, tied to an illegal drug operation, and stepping down after a major media flap is plain horseshit. That's not courage, that's damage control. Indeed, if Rush had any bravery, he wouldn't have made his statement about entering rehab just before a long weekend, a p.r. move designed to minimize coverage. He would have admitted his problem long before it became personally advantageous to do so.

And just how is he a hypocrite? As Reason's Jacob Sullum and Ellis Henican of NY Newsday have pointed out, back in the day, Rush suggested that illegal drug users should go to jail.

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  1. First, it was very likely the drugs that took his hearing.

    His hearing. Not mine. None of my business.

    Second, he has probably shortened his life expectancy by damaging his liver.

    His liver. His life. Not mine. None of my business.

    Sorry, claiming that drug use can be bad for the user is still not a justification for outlawing said drug use.

  2. When the topic of Rush’s addiction problems first arose, I asked, “What would have been his reaction if it had been Hillary who had come forward with a drug problem?” A St. Louis columnist did me one better by actually

  3. Maybe Rush isn’t a hypocrite. I can see a few “outs” for him. Did he ever suggest jail-time for drug offenders like himself after he became addicted? If not, then maybe his earlier statements arose from his ignorance of the realities of drug use. If so, then it was a simple lack of courage that he failed to voice his change of heart to his radio audience.

    Or… perhaps he has always believed that perscription pain medication abuse is completely different than other drug abuse, so different that pain med offenses should not be jailable offenses.

    Or… maybe he really does think he deserves to serve time for what he’s done. Sure, he’s going to rehab now, but how will he defend himself in court when and if the time comes? Maybe he’ll plead “no contest” and accept as righteous the sentence of the court.

    Calling him a hypocrite might be analogous to labelling someone as hypocritical who believes murder should be illegal but nonetheless murders someone. That’s not a hypocrite, that’s just a murderer.

  4. R.C.:

    Sorry, claiming that drug use can be bad for the user is still not a justification for outlawing said drug use.

    Quite true. The point I thought was being made, though, was that it was premature to assert that Limbaugh’s chronic drug use didn’t interfere with his life or career. It is quite possible that it severely threatened both (I find his loss of hearing, apparently a known side-effective of abusing the drugs he took, to be too conveniently timed to be a coincidence).

    One can stipulate that free individuals in a free society have a right to act in whatever manner they wish, consistent with others’ right to do the same, without finding it necessary to argue, as so many do, that the action need be benign. What libertarians are doing by advancing this kind of argument — government shouldn’t ban something because, after all, it’s not really that dangerous — is giving away tremendously important and useful rhetorical ground. If the general public is urged to equate legalizing behavior, in this case drug use, with accepting or embracing it, they’ll never agree to the former.

    “You should have a legal right to act stupidly” is a major better argument, I think, than “recreational drug use isn’t stupid.” Good luck selling that anywhere outside of academic and ideological cloisters.

  5. “y’all are welcome to find a crack addicted airline pilot and fly with him, or a heroin addicted cardiac surgeon, or for that matter, some knucklehead on PCP commuting at rush hour on the I-5.”

    Based on NIDA’s own statistics, these people are quite possibly out there, possibly with perfect records even! Take law enforcement out of the equation, it is even more likely that I can find you one of the above. Pilots complain about working long hours, sometimes experiencing drowsyness. If they earned their wings in Vietnam of Gulf War I while consuming “go pills,” I am sure they can function quite well on crack!

    I believe Mr Sullum’s latest book discusses a doctor who prescribed himself many opiate based drugs and lead a successful practice.

    PCP use on I-5? On my commute in Seattle, I am positive these people have passed me a million times! I once rode with a guy along I-5, headed to Whistler, that had a sack full of coke and a tank of nitrox in the back seat! He drove all night from San Luis Obispo, non-stop!

    These people are out there and you would never know it, just like the faithful Rush listeners!

  6. fyodor

    I’ll concede owning your own body may not be the strongest or the trump argument for ending the war on drugs, but, like chopping down a tree: let’s first pick a likely spot before beginning to chop. As it is, everyone is swinging axes all over the place… dangerous to even us like-minded buddies… while the tree seems hardly nicked.

  7. The real question raised by Rush’s behavior is response to his exposure is about his personal integrity. If Rush really believes that drug users should be fully prosecuted (and I’d bet good money he’ll shortly be back on the radio advocating just that), then he should insist on being aggressively prosecuted himself and cooperate fully with the relevant authorities to that end. To do anything less will demonstrate with abundant clarity that in fact Rush does not believe what he’s been saying all these years but rather thinks only some users should be prosecuted, namely those lacking money and influence.

    Now if that’s Rush’s opinion, fine–he’s certainly entitled to it. However, I do wish he would state it honestly, for the record, and explain exactly why he feels that way. Otherwise, why should we think he’s being honest about anything else he discusses?

  8. Jonah Goldberg writes, “Would Limbaugh really be a better person if all along he’d been telling the world, ‘Go ahead, take lots and lots of drugs. It’s your own business’?”

    The answer is yes.

    The reason “recrational drug use isn’t stupid” has the potential to be accepted outside of “academic and ideological cloisters” is that most people practice, or have practiced, recreational drug use. They smoke, they drink, they smoked pot in college, whatever, and they’re OK. I won’t accept that recreational drug use is a “vice.” It’s just normal human behavior.

  9. JSM, are you a Samoan lawyer?

  10. I can’t wait until it comes out that Al Franken is addicted to suppositories. Things will get ugly then, for sure.

  11. joe,
    I’ll get back to you, right now, I am waiting for white rabbit to peak!

    White Rabbit……white rabbit…..!

  12. As noted above, Limbaugh himself said he did not want to be seen as courageous for this in any way… and as Ellis Henican fails to note, this is completely consistent with his remarks on Jerry Garcia.

  13. Of course Mr Limbaugh didn’t whine. Only liberals and those they claim to represent can whine; conservatives righteously and manfully (even if high-pitchedly) complain how unfair it all is to good productive people like them.

  14. Having listened to his farewell speech, its clear that Rush is in denial. In his own eyes he’s not a junkie but a victim. He implicitly blames his failed back operation, his doctor for prescribing the drug (in the beginning of his addiction), etc for his addiction. Given the large amount of pills he consumed, he wasn’t taking it for the pain but for the high. Once he understands this, maybe puncture some of his other illusions, too.
    The only way to find out if he learned anything is by what he’ll have to say once he’s out of rehab.

  15. The die-hard dittoheads and the mustache-twirling detractors make essentially the same mistake: they take it all waaaaaay too seriously. Calling Rush a hypocrite assumes the real guy really believes everything the on-air persona says. Maybe he does, and maybe he doesn’t, but the bottom line is this: It’s entertainment, folks. His job is to get a rise out of people by expressing strong opinions. I’ll say it again: it’s entertainment. Rush is no more a hypocrite than Governor-elect Schwarzenegger is because he ain’t really the Terminator.
    Uh, it’s entertainment, folks…

  16. Hypocricy – the last acceptable act of judgement.

  17. Drugs may have caused Rush to lose his hearing, but it’s not like he was using it anyway.

  18. The reason “recrational drug use isn’t stupid” has the potential to be accepted outside of “academic and ideological cloisters” is that most people practice, or have practiced, recreational drug use. They smoke, they drink, they smoked pot in college, whatever, and they’re OK. I won’t accept that recreational drug use is a “vice.” It’s just normal human behavior.

    This is a good example of the rhetorical problem to which I previously referred. A little more discernment and maturity is needed here. Sure, drinking alcohol is common. So is the experimental use, typically in youth, of other drugs, often illicit ones. But you fail to recognize that the perception of the negative consequences that accrue to at least some users (I’ll take Jacob’s point that it’s a minority) is also common.

    It is a fallacy to suggest that if something is a “normal” human behavior, it is not a vice. The norm is for most human beings to yield to temptation and engage in one vice or another. It is also the norm for some to feel remorse, for others to want to be saved from themselves, and for still others to hope that their vice becomes more commonplace so that they won’t feel shame.

    Plus, there is a lot of rationalization and cognitive dissonance involved in each of these cases. You can call it hypocrisy if you want to, but it is also quite common. In fact, some might say it is normal human behavior to say one thing and do another, or at least something like it.

    It is not usually an effective political strategy to try to force people to resolve their contradictions and dissonance. I don’t think that most Americans will be willing to equate drinking a beer or drinking wine at dinner to smoking a joint or shooting up. Jacob makes some interesting points in his book, much of which I have read, but it struck me as I was reading it how unlikely it was to be persuasive to anyone not already on board with the public-policy notion that governments shouldn’t be prosecuting the drug war.

    If true, then the best way to change the policy would be to continue to persuade Americans who (rightly or wrongly) fear the widespread use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and the like that the costs of the drug war, financial and otherwise, exceed the benefits. Look at Prohibition. The policy was changed not because previously teetotaling voters lost their disdain for alcohol, or because they became persuaded that alcohol had no negative consequences for society. They were persuaded that the government’s ban was too costly to retain.

  19. “I don’t think that most Americans will be willing to equate drinking a beer or drinking wine at dinner to smoking a joint or shooting up.”

    Shooting up, no. Smoking a joint, maybe. The risks associated with these behaviors is drastically different, as is their acceptability to mainstream American society.

    Prohibitionists blur the distinction, because admitting that marijuana isn’t that harmful undermines their ability to demonize it. Many anti-prohibitionists blur the distinction because the harmlessness and familiarity of smoking pot is an effective way to overcome the viceral opposition many Americans have towards “illicit drugs” in the generic sense. Like mid-centry Communists in America, they are opposed to reforms that improve the situation a little, in the hopes of getting the public on board for a truly radical change. In other words, worse is better.

    This is not to say I support the continuation of the War on Drugs except for pot. But there is an argument for the legalization of mj that isn’t there for other drugs.

  20. “[Alcohol prohibition] was changed not because previously teetotaling voters lost their disdain for alcohol, or because they became persuaded that alcohol had no negative consequences for society. They were persuaded that the government’s ban was too costly to retain.”

    They knew the cost of prohibition was high, but they might have thought it less costly than legalization if they pictured alcohol users the same way most people picture heroin and cocaine users today. Fortunately, alcohol use was common and open before Prohibition, so most people didn’t need to rely on propaganda from the Partnership for an Alcohol-Free America to form an opinion.

  21. I’ve seen that 1995 quote from Rush all over the place. Are there more recent quotes calling for harsh penalties for drug users?

    I didn’t listem to him often, but I seem to recall him ridiculing Libertarians for advocating drug legalization (and for harming Republican candidates).

    Does anybody have any recent quotes about this? If he’s recently been silent about this, or even positive about considering easing the drug war, then he might be as hypocritical as it seems.

    I just don’t know what he’s been saying lately.

  22. To focus on a person’s hypocrisy, and conclude that the person’s arguments are worthless, is a pretty sophomoric rhetorical trick in argument, and if it’s something one practices to test out and affirm their own belief systems… well, they’d be better off reading a journal called “Superstition” than one called “Reason”. As Hayek would point out (and as Burke and Kirk would agree) sometimes experience is a good teacher. The man with a bandaged finger who warns you that fire burns, probably has a deeper understanding of the hazards of fire than the man who has never been burned. The only way to avoid being hypocritical is to be an unquestioning, amoral, valueless fool with no memory and no foresight.

    As for the merits of the argument, I know a lot of formerly productive people who wrecked their lives with hard drugs. I would be sad about this, but people don’t live and die in isolation – they leave behind impoverished dependent family members, unpaid debts, and they often steal and destroy other people’s property as they burn in. One doesn’t have to live in the ghetto to see this; at the ripe old age of 36, I’ve seen a large number of middle class friends burn in. There are externalities, and arguments disregarding these costs are doomed to fail miserably – regardless of the hypocrisy of lawmakers and pundits. And if you don’t think there are externalities, you’ve never lived in a drug infested inner city, or for that matter, a drug infested suburb.

  23. What anti-prohibitionists have argued that legalization of marijuana should be opposed if not part of a package?

  24. Between pandering to his audience and shilling for the Republican establishment, I susptect Rush says many things he doesn’t mean.

  25. it’s entertainment. Rush is no more a hypocrite than Governor-elect Schwarzenegger is because he ain’t really the Terminator.

    But the rabble believe Rush speaks from a position of Truth with a capital T. Arnold is just an actor. Not even the unwashed masses are dumb enough to mistake an entertainer’s staged successes for him having some sort of competence in real life, are they?

    What? Governor-elect? Never mind.

  26. I’m just curious about the impact this will have on our pro-WOD ‘pubbie bretheren. Will they start to understand that it’s possible to be a functional drug addict, and perhaps come to doubt the War on Drugs? Not likely, I’m thinking. Instead it’ll be “Drugs are so bad — look, they even got Rush! What a scourge”

  27. Jonah Goldberg thinks it’s okay that Rush is a hypocrite. He says hypocrisy is not a bad thing, and those that point out hypocrisy are missing the real story. I love the irony in how Goldberg himself has pointed out [often incorrectly] hypocrisy in liberals. So he’s a hypocrite, not that that’s bad, of course.

  28. I am also curious as to which example will be set with Rush’s addiction. I agree that the example should be that a drugs can be consumed responsibly. Even though Rush admits to addiction, he should also be admitting to the fact that the addiction didn’t prevent him from doing his job, functionally.

    However, as with William Bennet, reality suggests that Rush’s addiction will be further spun into how addiction, whether through drugs or gambling or any “immoral” vice, can take down even the most “virtuous” of people. This of course, will cause all those that have experminted or used frequently with no ill effects except for law enforcement, to insert finger into gullet and spew forth the morning breakfest.

    I have deep pity for those serving time for the same crime as Rush heads off to Detox.

  29. In his defense I point out that Rush stated pretty clearly in his anouncement that no one should consider him courageous or heroic for what he was doing.

    In his prosecution I point out that he emphasized the “addictiveness” of his drug so much that he appeared to be shirking responsibility for his plight, which is pathetic and damaging and further grist for the Drug War machine.

  30. I still haven’t seen any quotes later than 1995. One poster here said he sometimes takes callers who support legalization, and dismisses them as “pot-heads”. A freeper gave that some partial (very partial) confirmation by saying that he sometimes makes fun of “pot-heads”.

    I don’t agree that it makes any difference. He was harshly critical of Jocelyn Elders for suggesting the government even study legalization. I’ve read lately that he repeatedly misrepresented her as an outright advocate of legalization, and that is consistent with my somewhat dim recollections. Then there are the now familiar quotes in which he specifically said _users_, not just dealers, should be incarcerated, and that too many white people were getting away with using drugs.

    So far there is no evidence Rush ever _repudiated_ any of those statements. If he stopped saying things like that when he became an addict himself, he was just covering his ass, like Bill Bennett carefully excluding gambling from his list of socially destructive vices.

    The remarkable thing is that neither his allies nor his critics seem to have noticed his being AWOL from this particular front.

  31. Funny, I consumed oxycontin for a week following foot surgery, I didn’t end up addicted. I have gambled a couple of times, yet I am not addicted. I have smoked pot, nope, not addicted there either.

    The addictive qualities of these vices is severly overblown and down right dishonest.

    Guns don’t kill people….

  32. As the complexity experts at the Santa Fe Institute might say, the war on drugs is a “robust meme” able to deflect many withering assaults by truths.
    Which is why I keep suggesting focusing on the weakest spot: Do we “own” our bodies or not?

  33. Maybe Peter Bagge can add two panels to his “Acts Of Contrition” strip.

  34. Goldberg makes at least one good point: If you believe drug addiction is a disease, it’s heartless to make fun of Rush for being stricken by it. I suspect that disease-theorists-cum-Rush-tormenters are being inconsistent, rather than cold.

    However, Goldberg neglects a strong argument to tackle a weak one when he writes, “To argue that every conservative must be perfect before he or she can offer an opinion is to say that conservatives can never offer their opinions.” I would never say that, but I still see a purpose in pointing out Rush’s hypocisy, other than humiliation. I hope that conservative drug warriors finally realize that there is a disconnect between their public rhetoric about illegal drugs (Illegal drugs invariably lead to the destruction of self and others), and what they see in their own lives (Some users are happy, function well, and harm no one). Maybe that realization would stop them from calling for the imprisonment of users, and the execution of sellers.

  35. Eric says Goldberg makes a good point, that “If you believe drug addiction is a disease, it’s heartless to make fun of Rush for being stricken by it.” Eric then accuses those disease theorists of being inconsistent (or hypocritical?). I disagree. I think most Rush-tormentors are tormenting him for his hypocrisy not for his addiction. This is precisely what is driving Goldberg mad. He thinks people should be tormenting him for his addiction not his hypocrisy.

  36. Ruthless,

    Of course strong arguments are better than weak ones. But what makes you so sure the liberty issue is such a trump card? There’s no lack of rationalizations out there about why we don’t own our bodies. Liberty as a principle has little political clout in mainstream America, at least when fear rears its ugly head. Showing there’s not so much to be afraid of seems as good a strategy as any. And of course, these various arguments aren’t mutually exclusive, anyway.

  37. Galois,

    You’re right. Even if addiction is a disease, as Rush now says, he didn’t argue that way until he was caught. I revoke my good point award from Goldberg, and transfer it to you.

  38. Everyone is a hypocrite and to deny this while pointing our fingers at someone else is the height of hypocrisy. What should be pointed out is that he managed to function at the height of his career. The true culprits here should be the collusion between the Federal Government and the Drug Companies for keeping the availability of these drugs small and the costs high.

  39. Not everyone is a hypocrite.

  40. Reuben, its not the “collusion” between drug companies and the feds that makes these drugs illegal to obtain without a prescription. The doctors are the ones who fight like wolves against any attempt to weaken THEIR monopolistic chokehold on pharmaceutical distribution.

  41. Just remember, I, for one, never said I wasn’t a hypocrite! 🙂

    The hoopla about this should have nothing to do with Rush himself. The focus of the attacks should be the rhetoric that Limbaugh and others have used to attack drug users as a clearly delineated “other.” (I think this is the same point Eric H made.) BTW, sure am glad I had that cup o’ Joe this morn!

  42. My mom was addicted to prescription drugs and was absolutely against “illegal” drugs. We couldn’t even listen to White Rabbit on the radio because it was a “drug song”. One day she mixed two drugs that shouldn’t have been mixed and it killed her. That was 12 years ago and I miss her every day. If she were still here I wouldn’t rub her nose in her hypocrisy and gloat. I’ve never been a fan of Rush but his addiction makes me sad for him. I hope he gets better. I’m glad for him that his loved ones didn’t find him lying on the floor, dead like my mom the hypocrite.

  43. A conservative talk show host is a drug addict… therefore the war on drugs, or for that matter, any approbation directed at drug use, is facially invalid.

    Hmmmm… pretty good logic there.

    By that logic, I suppose the Red Sox probably should never again aspire to the World Series if they fail this year. If their stated policy goal – winning the Series – doesn’t work out perfectly, must mean it’s ineffective and worthy of being discarded.

    As for drug addicts being functional – y’all are welcome to find a crack addicted airline pilot and fly with him, or a heroin addicted cardiac surgeon, or for that matter, some knucklehead on PCP commuting at rush hour on the I-5. Or are the warnings “do not take this and drive, operate heavy machinery or engage in hazardous activities” also invalid, failed policies? I appreciate the point people are trying to make about one’s right to put one’s self into a chemically altered state, but please don’t try and justify it by claiming that getting twisted doesn’t affect your performance.

  44. SF,

    Of course that’s a gross over simplification of anything anyone’s said here (but I’m not supposed to say “strawman”! 🙂 As for your baseball analogy, the problem isn’t simply that the Drug War “failed this year.” It’s failed every year and it’s rotten at its core.

    As for “please don’t try and justify it by claiming that getting twisted doesn’t affect your performance,” some twistedness can be very good for some types of performance! 🙂 As my joke demonstrates, depends on the substance and the type of performance you’re talking about. If anyone’s really claimed that drugs cannot possibly have no negative effects, of course I would disagree with that, but I don’t think anyone’s said that. I think the focus has been on whether “addiction” per se necessarily dooms a person to life encompassing dysfunctionality, which of course it doesn’t. That said, I imagine not all hardcore Drug Warriors claim that, either, so maybe that would be a better point to make.

  45. Stephen, I don’t think people here are arguing that folks who use illegal drugs recreationally are unaffected WHILE they use the drugs. The point is that it’s demonstrably more common than not for people who use illegal drugs recreationally to have healthy, functional lives when they’re not using.

  46. Stephen,

    Whomever you’re arguing with, I haven’t seen him here. I agree that Rush’s illicit drug use and hypocrisy doesn’t debunk the case for a drug war all by itself. I also agree that inebriation can be dangerous to self and others, although it’s difficult to see how that fact argues more strongly for heroin prohibition than it does for alcohol prohibition.

  47. but the people who found rush to be an interesting enough to listen to regularly didn’t even know he was a pill-popper. this becomes especially hilarious when a large chunk of said block, including the pill popper himself, have a “jail ’em all/spend more money” approach to the war on some drugs.

    obviously not every user is dysfunctional or an addict, and not every addict is a violent, uncoltrolled maniac, which is a claim that no one on the drug warrior side will publicly acknowledge. this doesn’t make excessive drug use any less harmful or even make certain substances any safer, but it does raise an 800-lb gorilla for the drug warriors who insist that all use is abuse and all abuse is addiction or will become so in due time.

    incidentally, there are a lot more doctors with drug problems than you would care to know, mr. fetchet.

    i think it would be right funny and quite interesting to hear what rush thinks about his jail em all approach to drug use and abuse after spending some time in jail himself for procuring and popping his happy pills. it obviously won’t cure him of his problem, if he actually has one (perhaps he just enjoys getting high?) but it would be hilariously just desserts for someone who spent years insisting others go to jail for what he was doing in his own home.

  48. Jonah Goldberg writes, “Would Limbaugh really be a better person if all along he’d been telling the world, ‘Go ahead, take lots and lots of drugs. It’s your own business’?”

    Nothing makes me gag more than someone who I take to be halfway intelligent being shamelessly disingenous!

    No, Jonah, Rush Limbaugh would be a better person if he said, “Drugs aren’t good for one’s health. People who get addicted to drugs should be allowed to be treated without fear of being thrown in prison.”

    Instead, Rush Limbaugh, the big fat (er, just big) hypocrite has advocated throwing addicts in prison. Now he’s an addict. What does he think should happen to himself? (Hint: Did he check into a prison, or a fancy-schmancy drug rehabilitation clinic?)

  49. Their are a couple of problems with suggesting that Rush’s example shows that addiction isn’t so bad.

    First, it was very likely the drugs that took his hearing.

    Second, he has probably shortened his life expectancy by damaging his liver.

  50. “I have deep pity for those serving time for the same crime as Rush heads off to Detox.”

    I have pity for those serving time. But I have anger for the people who sent them there. Stinkin’ conservatives. Especially stinkin’ conservative hypocrites.

    And liberals. It’s even more amazing that those who call themselves “liberal” support immoral and illegal drug laws.

  51. “Which is why I keep suggesting focusing on the weakest spot: Do we “own” our bodies or not?”

    The problem with that argument is that both conservatives and “liberals” answer, “No.”

    Conservatives don’t think you own your body, if you are going to do “immoral” things with it. (With *them* supplying the definition of morality, of course.)

    And “liberals” don’t think you own your body, if you’re going to hurt yourself. (Or use your body in such a way that it denies the omnipotence of the government.)

  52. “To argue that every conservative must be perfect before he or she can offer an opinion is to say that conservatives can never offer their opinions.”

    Now, that’s the best suggestion I’ve read in a long time!

  53. Many “addicts” are quite capable of confining their use to evenings and weekends.

    I agree that addiction should be a disqualification for being an airline pilot. Lots of things disqualify for that, such as less than perfect eyesight.

  54. “y’all are welcome to find a crack addicted airline pilot and fly with him, or a heroin addicted cardiac surgeon, or for that matter, some knucklehead on PCP commuting at rush hour on the I-5.”

    How about a meth using fighter pilot? The air force gives fighter pilots meth. And our “high” pilots are the best in the world.

  55. The 1998 drug/tobacco quote has gotten a lot of play. I think it’s confused and ambiguous, unclear as to when Rush is serious and when he is sarcastic, not really expressing a policy position at all. That’s why I wasn’t counting it when I said I haven’t seen “any quotes later than 1995.” I had in mind quotes in which Rush clearly took a position.

  56. Here’s another source for the 1998 quote, with less editing.

  57. I have a second though about the relevance of Rush’s hearing loss to legalization.

    If Rush’s drug of choice was oxycontin, and if oxycontin had been freely available, then Rush would probably never have done Vicodin at all. His hearing would have been spared.

    This is another example of how prohibition can increase the damage done by addiction.

  58. This is bit off-topic, but I wanted to post it on the newest Rush thread.

    This satire has been posted at FreeRepublic.com. I soon gave up on the Freepers’ responses. They ignored all the points the writer made and went right into ragging on Clinton, cheerfully agreeing with one another that Clinton would never have handled such a situation as “well” as Rush did.

    Just when I thought my opinion of conservatives couldn’t go any lower . . .

  59. I am shocked, shocked, to find someone in the entertainment business addicted to drugs; Oxycontin, no less. I understand the NAACP is demanding the death penalty.

  60. Nick Gillespie you’re a spiteful little prick. Nick likes to kick rush when he’s down, and he gets dozens of “atta boy’s” in the comment webpage from all of you angry people. Many of you are just plain mean. You are taking pleasure in the agony of someone else. Examine your hearts: why does kicking someone when they’re down make you feel better?

    And what the hell do you expect Rush to say? He admits on live radio, to MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, that he’s addicted to painkillers. That is tough, people. He admits failing to beat the addiction even after 2 stins in rehab. He asks for prayer. He says he’s no hero. He says the real heros, if any, are those who can’t afford rehab but stare down their addictions and beat them with no help. He says he realizes it will never “be over” and that he will battle his addiction foreve, even when clean. I mean what the fuck is wrong with you people? You hate rush limbaugh, okay, fine. He’s your worst enemy, you hate his stinking guts, okay fine. But if you knew a damn thing about addiction, you wouldn’t wish it upon your worst enemy, or upon someone whose guts you hate. And then you drag out a couple of sentences from the millions of sentences he’s said onair and say “ah HA! he’s a hypocrite!!” You are gleeful at someone’s drug addiction. That is just mean spirited hate. Shame on you.

  61. This “hypocrisy” nonsense is just that, nonsense. First, as another reader has already pointed out, there is no evidence that Limbaugh came down hard on drug abusers after becoming addicted himself. Second, there is no moral equivalence between a person who becomes addicted to pain pills that were prescribed to him by a doctor and someone who becomes addicted to drugs that he experimented with recreationally. How many crackheads do you know who became crackheads because they had a legitimate medical condition that a doctor treated with crack? Third, and most importantly, hypocrisy charges, even when accurate, serve no purpose other than to muddy the waters. So Rush doesn’t do a perfect job of living up to his own standards. So what? That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with standards themselves.

    Nick, if you can show that Rush’s views (preferably those espoused a bit more recently than 1995) are wrong on their merits, then by all means do so. But if all you can do is gleefully point out that he has done an imperfect job of adhering to his own principles, save your breath. “I know you are but what am I?” may be a winning argument in debates between five-year-olds, but it has no place in serious discussions between adults.

  62. The only way to avoid being hypocritical is to be an unquestioning, amoral, valueless fool with no memory and no foresight.

    No, you can avoid being hypocritical by living up to your principles and treating everyone who doesn’t equally—with rachmones, I should hope.

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