Rush Limbaugh and the Glass House

By now everyone has heard Rush Limbaugh’s admission concerning his addiction to prescription pain killers. He has sent himself off to a ‘facility’ where within thirty days he’ll be good as new… maybe.

I’ve never been addicted to anything worse than cigarettes (16 years, pack and a half a day when I quit in 1984) so I guess I don’t know exactly what Rush has been going through. I’m sure it’s hellacious. My guess is, he didn’t set out to get hooked. It just happened, and by the time it did, it was beyond him.

My first thought in a case like this is, be lenient. I’ve never considered jail the right place for people with drug problems. There aren’t too many adults I know who didn’t puff or ingest something illegal way back when. They certainly didn’t belong in jail.

On the other hand, if your use of drugs causes you to commit other crimes (robbery, burglary… any crime to another person), I don’t think the drugs should get you off the hook.

I’m not as rigid in this regard as Rush. After all, the New York Times reports him saying, “Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. … And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” (Rush Limbaugh TV Show, October 5, 1995).

And, before you start feeling bad because of all the ‘good’ Rush has done, he also said, “too many whites are getting away with drug use.”

This is a pip. Forget that he admits he illegally abused prescription drugs. It’s the allegation that he got his maid to act as his bag man that, to me, is the real crime.

But what do we do with Rush?

I’m afraid no matter how strident his opinions are (and to me, he has become more shrill and mean spirited with time), I won’t change my opinion about not locking him up for simple possession or use. If, however, he enticed someone who worked for him to do something she wouldn’t have otherwise done, he deserves everything he gets.

Though others found his Friday monologue poignant and self revealing, I found it to be totally self serving. Much of what was said, was said to evoke pity. I’m not buying it.

I’ve had discussions in the newsroom and with friends about how Rush’s audience will react. The prevailing wisdom is they’ll continue to follow. I felt that way earlier, but don’t anymore.

Rush has become too much a paradox… a contradiction of his own principles. He’s sold those principles very successfully into a radio career. Without them he’s nothing. And now, he’s without them.

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