Excellent post from Mannion on Limbaugh’s latest bit of wankery.
He’s spot-on when he says that Limbaugh “probably doesn't give people with disabilities a thought when he's not using them to stir up the pot on his show.” In fact, I doubt there’s any “probably” about it. I’m quite certain he doesn’t. And I’d be willing to bet that, when forced by virtue of proximity to consider a person with a disability, on a one-to-one basis, Limbaugh would treat him or her with the same respect that most of us would. Were he the kind of guy to ride the subway, I don’t think he’d use the ass cyst that got him out of Vietnam to justify keeping a seat on a crowded car from a disabled person.
To say that Limbaugh probably isn’t, in real life, the monster he plays on the radio isn’t a particularly nice thing to say about him, though it may seem so. In reality, it’s rather the opposite. I firmly believe he has the capacity to be a decent person (most people do); that he chooses to shed that decency as soon as a microphone is put in front of him speaks to the depth of his lack of character. It’s one thing to be the kind of person who truly hates the disabled by virtue of ignorance or masked fear or plain, old-fashioned intolerance; it’s quite another to affect that hatred in spite of knowing better to make money from the devotion of people who really do, by inflaming their repugnant beliefs.
Limbaugh is just one of many loathsome characters who have made names for themselves by treating politics as a game, a fun and profitable little pastime that has no real-world consequences—and the richer he gets, the more real a lack of consequences becomes for him. The luxury of staggering wealth means never having to worry about Social Security, or healthcare, or how much gas costs. It’s a game. Who cares.
And in that game, people like Michael J. Fox aren’t real people. They’re images on a screen, they’re pawns to be played. Stem cell research isn’t a real thing. It’s a political football. Safely nestled away from the real world in a radio studio, Limbaugh doesn’t want or need to think about the people he mocks, the people he uses to score a goal. And he doesn’t want or need to think about the people he addresses, either, or what it means that they might very well refuse to give up a seat on the subway, and that he provides their justification, fuels their ire. He’s just too busy having fun playing his game to be hampered by anything that matters, anything that might suggest the game he’s playing is a very dangerous one indeed.