Pubdate: Wed, 22 Oct 2003
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune (MO)
Copyright: 2003 Columbia Daily Tribune
Note: Prints the street address of LTE writers.
Author: Henry J. Waters III, Publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune


Sympathy or Disdain?

We learned recently that Rush Limbaugh has been hooked on prescription 
painkillers for years and apparently has been buying them illegally in 
massive amounts. Excessive drug use of this type can cause the profound 
hearing loss the talk show host suffered.

Die-hard supporters of Limbaugh's hard-line conservatism love him with a 
passion undimmed by the drug revelations. Die-hard haters find no sympathy 
in their hearts. When and if he resumes his broadcasts with full energy, 
his audience will remain intact and so will his horde of detractors.

Limbaugh deserves disdain for his hypocrisy. He has often argued for harsh 
punishment against drug users and traders. Several years ago he said people 
"selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs . ought to be 
accused, and they ought to be convicted, and they ought to be sent up."

Now he will, implicitly at least, seek mercy, praying that the sort of 
admonition he earlier issued will be forgotten.

Pious righteousness deserves its comeuppance. As several supporters have 
said, Limbaugh's problem could happen to anyone, but the message issued by 
the arrogant one through the years is the opposite. He has said drug 
abusers are sinners and criminals who deserve harsh moral and civil 
punishment. Like so many such absolutists before him, he set himself up for 
a mighty fall.

The main lesson to be learned from the Limbaugh drug episode is humility. 
The sort of arrogance expressed by Rush is expressed in U.S. drug laws. No 
telling how many righteous politicians who tout these laws as they pander 
for votes are scofflaws on the side. We might learn from Limbaugh the 
dangers of standing in righteous judgment, posing as better than our peers 
and, thus, advertising ourselves as superior.

If Limbaugh still believes in his punitive attitude about drugs, how does 
he think that philosophy should apply to him? He'll seek and receive a pass 
not because he is deserving but because the laws are empty.
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