I quite disagree with our host, who writes:

May Limbaugh Burn In A Thousand Fires

[..] I really don’t understand why people are so squeamish about wishing pain and death upon truly despicable souls. After all, we wish a thousand sufferings upon Osama bin Laden, right? Why not also Rush Limbaugh?

What would a thousand sufferings upon Osama bin Laden look like?  Torture, perhaps? Does advocating such a punishment become acceptable so long as we’re not the ones doing it? He “had it coming”, poetic justice, etc.?

It is natural to wish vengeance on those who strongly offend or have wronged us.  Picture yourself as the father of a girl who has been raped and murdered, and imagine that one year after the perpetrator is apprehended, you find yourselves alone in a room and have some guarantee that you won’t be connected to the scene. (or even without such a guarantee!) What would you do?

The human thing, I expect. But there is a reason we don’t allow victims’ families to be judge, jury, and executioner or prison staff. If asked to consider a different but analogous situation objectively, such a father—or relatives of those who were massacred on 9/11—would probably appreciate the wisdom of blind, dispassionate justice free of conflicts of interest.

The question then becomes: What should our attitude be in the vast middle ground between the passion of victims and formal justice? For instance when we empathize with their pain in a blog post, or a conversation among friends? And should it make a significant difference if we declare a wish for drastic retribution to be carried out by an abstract force of nature rather than volunteering or explicitly advocating others do the deed?

It is a truism that protecting free speech entails protecting vile speech, including that of would-be-censors like the religious right or the PC left. Similarly, promoting tolerance entails some tolerance of people who are themselves intolerant.  And in the particular case here, promoting decency requires a certain level of decorum towards indecent, despicable bile spewers like Mr. Limbaugh.

As Andrew Sullivan put it:

The only decent thing to do is to hope for [Limbaugh’s] swift and full recovery so we can get back to exposing his blarney and bile. Get well soonest.

Now our host may choose to waive this decorum and belittle my concern as squeamish— so may many of you, for that matter. But to do so is to act as a wingnut—by definition.  And should it happen often, my opinion of you will approach my opinion of typical Limbaugh fans.

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  1. schu says:

    I find myself in total agreement with you. I can dislike, or even despise someone like Rush, but hatred is just to powerful of a emotion to spend on someone as despicable as Rush.

    • Gherald says:

      *nod* What about an Osama bin Laden?

      • schu says:

        If he is killed while we try to capture him, of if he has a fair trial by our laws and is executed, fine. Like most mass murderers, I do not hate him, as i do not need to hate. This does not mean that I want to turn a blind eye to him and let him go. Just hunt him down and dispense justice as we would do any mass murderer.

  2. @iquanyin says:

    so how does the "dispassionate justice" get decided? to me, much of what's called justice seems to be merely institutionalized vengeance, when it's not merely protecting the interests of the wealthy. where's the justice in years behind bars for using marijuana, for example? the hemp ban originated in a trade battle when rope was king, it was demonized for economic reasons. i don't even smoke the stuff, btw, but so what?

    rush, just like saddam, is a person who spends most of his life on earth spewing lies and hatred in order to enrich himself in some way. this is why so many people hate him. because he has no love for his fellow man, only for his own greed. saddam wanted to enrich himself with power, as does rush, tho i think rush is perhaps more in it for the straight up power of cash.

    how many people wished mother teresa dead? florence nightengale? marie curie? albert einstein? the buddha? not many. now why is that? because most people will love and support those who care about humanity. and rightly so. those who care only for themselves, and play a deliberate, active role in creating or perpetuating the suffering of millions, naturally generate ill will toward themselves. very simple.

    • gregoryp says:

      He doesn't even believe the crap he spews.

    • Gherald says:

      > where's the justice in years behind bars for using marijuana, for example?

      There is none--marijuana use is a victimless crime, and doing time for it is an injustice. Obviously our laws could be improved, but this fact is no reason to throw our legal system out the window or call for the death of people we don't like.

      > those who care only for themselves, and play a deliberate, active role in creating or perpetuating the suffering of millions, naturally generate ill will toward themselves.

      Sure, but there's a difference between having such a thought or feeling (which is normal) and stating it publicly (which is indecent and part of what Limbaugh does on his show for entertainment purposes).

      • schu says:

        While our laws and concept of justice are not perfect it does stop most of us from taking personal action. Which would lead to vigilantism, vendetta, and chaos. As to your examples you do know why Albert Einstein fled Germany? You do realize why he helped develop the bomb, and who he wanted it used on? And that the only reason that the British did not kill Gandhi was the political problems? I think that your views are really to simplistic.

  3. gregoryp says:

    Evil people should die. Period.
    I am tired of accepting otherwise.
    I have no sympathy for Rush Limbaugh or any other
    asshole who lies in a pathological manner just to prop up
    ideas that aren't worth pissing on. What this country needs is an epiphany
    that it isn't about US but rather is about our fellow citizens. Greed, sociopathy,
    and narcissistic superiority need to die and quickly. We need to fix our country
    and now. Having assholes like Rush around to propagate filth and lies
    are a detriment to the good of everyone.

    • Gherald says:

      Oh yippee, can we kill all the religious fundamentalists and other evil people I disagree with next?

      *rolls eyes*

      (By the by, greed (profit motives) are foundational to any healthy economy. People who complain about "greed" tend to be lazily trying to complain about the disregard for some other consideration, but it behooves the complainer to explicitly state which ones they're talking about….for instance, indiscriminate pollution or a breach of expected contract like rescissions)

      • gregoryp says:

        I wasn't actually talking about killing people. Metaphorically, yes. We don't need people like Rush propagating lies. Look if you have to lie to support your position or suppress the position of another then you have nothing and need to be marginalized. That is the death I was talking about. Not letting people spew hate, lies and propaganda at others expense. Now, I don't believe I should have sympathy for evil people, ever. When it is their time to die I am not going to be sad. Wasn't sad when Saddam Hussein passed away. Won't be sad when Limbaugh passes away either. Not exactly the same as saying we ought to kill people now is it?

        • Gherald says:

          So…

          "Evil people should die. Period." == "I won't be sad or have sympathy for evil people, ever."

          O-okay then…

          I'm certainly not going to insist you feel sympathy for evil people--or non-evil people, for that matter.

          But your choice of metaphor is absurd.

        • schu says:

          But in wishing for someone to die, to get on the net and project that wish, moves us to the same standard as they are. If we do this, what is the difference between our stands. We constantly decry the wingnuts for these very positions. Why then do we want to become wingnuts?

      • schu says:

        And who choices? Do all the nonbelievers die, or just the ones we dislike? Do all the religious people die, or only the ones we disagree with? Do we kill all the capitalists or only the really successful ones? Do we kill the unhealthy, or simply let them die off because they cannot afford insurance? While I do not like Rush, and do believe he will reap what he sows, I will not wish him dead.

        • Metavirus says:

          just a more callous perspective. i wouldn't want some random person to go kill him. i would just hope that fate will someday rid the world of his hatred

          • Gherald says:

            "May Limbaugh Burn In A Thousand Fires"
            wishing "pain and death upon truly despicable souls"
            "Evil people should die. Period." "Amen."

            "What? No, I'm not saying they should be killed, I'm just being callous and hope fate solves the problem."

            Uh-huh. Backtrack much? I would wink, but this isn't a laughing matter.

            Wingers spew violence-inciting rhetoric all the time and when called on it most ofent insist they were just wishing God or some other abstract force (fate, a thousand fires) "solve the problem for us. "

            You don't want to go down this route.

  4. Metavirus says:

    But their position is baseless nonsense while ours is sound and factual

    • Gherald says:

      You're just exploiting ambiguity in the word "positions"--not the best word for him to have chosen, schu should be more precise.

      • schu says:

        Sigh, sometimes I am no precise. My point is that in wish death on someone we move our argument to their levle and we become the wingnuts.

    • schu says:

      But then they feel that their position is sound and factual while our position is baseless nonsense. My position is that you are moving our argument to their lower position.

  5. TinaFCD says:

    Hilarious discussion going on here, thanks. :)

  6. Metavirus says:

    I'm cool with hilarity :). Flying back today. So many comments to read

  7. Metavirus says:

    I guess it's a question of what reasons you wish people ill.  If it's for being a hate-filled pustule on humanity's backside, I don't have any qualms hoping that Limbaugh doesn't pull through if a heart attack were to strike him

    • schu says:

      This statement is a far cry from your original posting. If you had simply stated that you hope that Rush would not survive his health issues verses calling for him to burn in a thousand fires etc etc you would not be sounding like a wingnut frantically trying to explain their own statement.

  8. Metavirus says:

    That's a fair criticism.  The main thrust of my original post is that I don't understand why people would be wishing Limbaugh well in his recent sickness.  I was hoping (and continue to hope) that his sickness finally rid this planet of his hatred and racism.I deserve my lumps for dashing off an angry post that didn't explain myself fully.

  9. Dan Gilbert says:

    I don't wish harm or pain on Limbaugh, but nor would I feel sadness at his passing.

    • schu says:

      While nothing would please me more than seeing Rush chock to death on his cigar while on the air I will not spend the emotional effort to hate him. My disagreement with metavirus is not in disliking the egotistical money hog, but in posting things that make us sound like the right winged hate groups that we so thoroughly despise.

  10. witness says:

    Can I just add -- a pox on lush windbag. That’s all. That’s fair.

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