Liberals rush to ban Rush
By Michael M. Bates
When the angry left's lap dogs are told to heel, they readily obey. So as liberal bloggers got their undies in a twist over broadcaster Rush Limbaugh using the term "phony soldiers," Congressional involvement was predictable.
On October 2, more than a dozen House Democrats introduced a resolution singling out "right wing radio commentator Rush Limbaugh" and "condemn(ing) in the strongest possible terms the personal attacks" allegedly made by him.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark called for a mandated rating system for free speech: "I don‘t see why there can‘t be standards for political discourse. I'd like to see A-rated, B-rated, and C-rated for political discourse." Undoubtedly, Wesley contemplates his side doing the rating.
Over in the Senate, 41 Democratic reprobates, including Mrs. Clinton and Barry Obama, sent a letter to the company that syndicates the talk show host's program. One of the senators, Colorado's Kenneth Salazar, told reporters he'd vote for a censure of Limbaugh if a vote were taken.
Can you say chilling effect, boys and girls? A finicky reader might say: "OK, Mike Bates, so what if liberals criticize Limbaugh? The headline you used says they're trying to ban him. Maybe I'll report you to the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising."
Before you do that, keep in mind that I'm employing the word ban exactly as the trendily liberal American Library Association does every year when it announces "Banned Books Week." The purported banned books are readily available. In reality, they're merely books that have been challenged, often in schools and typically by the parents and/or taxpayers picking up the tab.
As someone very knowledgeable once suggested, the ALA should really change the name from Banned Books Week to something more accurate such as Books That Have Been Challenged by Parents for Age-Appropriateness, Sexual Explicitness, Drug Use, Offensive Language, Violence, Racism, and/or Wizardry Week. Until the ALA does that, I'll toss around the word ban with gay abandon. Ironically, Congress took to its Rush to judgment during the Banned Books Week so venerated by liberals.
Those on the left reacted to Congressional intervention with glee. Those on the right were troubled with a perceived assault on free speech. And those in the middle, the biggest contingent, wondered if Congress doesn't have anything better to do with its time than disparage a popular radio personality.
Good question. So let's briefly look at what else our lawmakers were up to on October 2, the day the House resolution was introduced.
The House took five recorded roll call votes. One recognized "the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and expressing respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world on this occasion, and for other purposes." Another condemned the persecution of labor rights advocates in Iran. A third roll call vote was devoted to expressing "the sense of Congress regarding the immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," a human rights advocate imprisoned in Myanmar.
But that wasn't all the House accomplished that day. It voted to "express heartfelt sympathy for the victims of the devastating thunderstorms that caused severe flooding during August 2007 in the States of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin." It approved a resolution to establish the 200th Anniversary Commemoration Commission of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It voted to recognize that violence poses an increasingly serious threat to peace and stability in Central America. A handful of more substantive measures were considered that day, but most action was of the feel good variety.
The Senate recorded only one roll call vote on October 2, tabling an amendment to a Defense Department appropriation. Still, that didn't mean it wasn't able to achieve a great deal.
It approved a measure "recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrating the heritage and culture of Hispanic Americans and their immense contributions to the Nation." The Senate agreed to designate October 19 as National Mammography Day. Also passed was a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the United States Transportation Command on its 200th anniversary.
Getting back to the question: Doesn't Congress have anything better to do with its time than fret over conservative broadcasters? Judging by what it gets done, possibly not.
The left can huff and puff and fume and posture all it wants, but it'll take a bigger Democratic majority in Congress than there is right now before substantive action is taken to curtail political speech. Revival of the misnamed Fairness Doctrine isn't in the offing.
Squandering time on reviling people with whom they disagree does have a plus side for conservatives. Every minute spent on denouncing Mr. Limbaugh is another minute not devoted to novel ways of wasting tax dollars.
Congressional liberals are spinning their wheels trying to bully those who won't be intimidated while at the same time exhibiting the angry left's contempt for free speech.
Looks like a win-win situation.
This Michael Bates column appeared in the October 11, 2007 Reporter Newspapers.