A few months ago, my husband lost a “friend” over his “hatred” for Rush Limbaugh. I put quotes around the words “friend” and “hatred”, because I’m being facetious. Anyone who knows Bill knows that he doesn’t hate anyone. He doesn’t even hate his ex wife, who probably deserves his hatred more than anyone on the planet. The point is, my husband isn’t a hater. But he never liked Rush Limbaugh. Neither did I.
Last night, we found out that Rush finally kicked the bucket at age 70. He’d been suffering from lung cancer, having announced his illness in February 2020.
Back in October 2020, Bill was labeled a hater by a former friend because he had noticed that the very organ that had allowed Rush Limbaugh to spread hatred and bigotry toward large groups of marginalized people was also going to be the death of him. Bill had posted his thoughts about Rush’s illness on his Facebook timeline, and some of his friends went freakin’ nuts. One even accused him of being a “bad person” for stating this:
I know what I’m about to say is the result of unskilled thinking, but this appears to be an example of Karmic Justice. The organ used to spew years of hate, vitriol, and self-centeredness will be his undoing.
We weren’t rejoicing in Rush’s illness in October, and we’re not rejoicing in his death now. I don’t generally celebrate when people die, even people I think of as highly contemptible, and worthy of disdain or even outright hatred. I think Rush Limbaugh qualifies as someone who, in life, was highly contemptible. And while I’m not particularly happy that he’s dead, I am relieved that he won’t be spreading his toxic negativity, ignorance, and bigotry anymore. He won’t be saying or writing hurtful things to or about people who aren’t like him and don’t share his opinions.
In the aftermath of Rush’s death, we’ve also seen yet another falsely attributed quote arise from the dead. If you’ve been on Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen people sharing this meme.
I know a lot of people like to share these kinds of cute and clever memes, and many people don’t actually care who said it. I care, though, because I like to give credit where credit is due, and I don’t like false attributions. So where did this quote come from? According to the article from The Atlantic I linked above, no one important actually said or wrote it in that precise manner. Alex Eichler, the person who wrote the article for The Atlantic, writes:
Matt Blum at Wired has the fact-check: the quotation actually comes from Clarence Darrow, the lawyer of Scopes Trial fame. Here’s a fuller version of the quote, which appears in Darrow’s 1932 work The Story of My Life:
All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.Clarence Darrow
I know some people are glad Rush is gone. Some are actually jubilant about it. And I would never tell them they don’t have the right to feel whatever it is they feel. I’m not in a group that Rush openly mocked, unless you want to call me a liberal. I’m not actually that liberal, but I don’t like the way the Republican party has gone in recent years. I think their embrace of both evangelical Christians and Donald Trump is confusing and wrong. And Republicans often say regrettable, heartless things to people who are in trouble and need help.
Case in point. Yesterday, I read about former Colorado City, Texas mayor Tim Boyd, who basically went off on his constituents for begging the government for help. Texas, as you probably know, is in serious trouble right now, thanks to a terrible winter storm that has disrupted the power grid. People are suffering because of power outages. Some people are even dying! They’re either freezing to death, or poisoning themselves with carbon monoxide by doing things like running their cars in closed garages or using barbecue grills indoors to generate heat. But Mr. Boyd, proud Texan conservative he is, had this to say in a poorly written and now deleted Facebook post:
And then he continued with this:
I’ll bet Tim Boyd is sad that Rush is dead. I’ll bet Boyd was a Limbaugh fan. I don’t know for certain that he was, but what he posted is the same kind of hateful, mean-spirited shit that Rush Limbaugh was spewing for YEARS on the airwaves. And ignorant, compassion challenged people who are deeply saddened that the raucous voice of their belief system has died don’t seem to understand that Rush hurt a lot of people with his snarky, hateful rhetoric.
This has been a very difficult year for so many people– from the deaths and illnesses caused by the pandemic, to the many natural disasters, to the massive job losses, and complete upending of of normal life for everyone. It’s really sucked on many levels. And so, when an elected official like Tim Boyd mocks and lectures people for their valid complaints, it stings a bit. Rush Limbaugh was of the same ilk, and people like Tim Boyd looked up to him. He had no compunction about saying awful things to and about anyone, especially people who have historically suffered and been marginalized by privileged people.
Let me remind Rush’s supporters of a few things. Rush Limbaugh mocked Michael J. Fox for having Parkinson’s Disease and accused him of exaggerating his symptoms. Rush Limbaugh called women “sluts”, and referred to Barack Obama as the “magic negro”. And he wouldn’t have thought much of me, either…
Anyway… I’m not glad Rush is dead. I don’t care enough about him to rejoice in his death. Besides, everybody has to die sometime. It was simply his time to go. I’m not going to celebrate his death. But I’m also not going to shame or blame anyone who is glad to see him gone. I figure they have their reasons, and many of those reasons, while perhaps hypocritical, are understandable. We all have our own karma to tend.
In other news, our heating went out last night. It’s not as bad here as it is in Texas, but I am a bit chilled. Hopefully, the landlord will have it fixed soon, so my hands, feet, and nose won’t be so cold. And Bill has to go away for three weeks next Saturday. Hopefully, he won’t bring any COVID-19 viruses back with him. Otherwise, people might be cheering about my death.
So long, Rush… You served a purpose and now your work is done. And, as Folk Uke reminds us, even shit has a purpose.