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Why Do People Listen to Rush Limbaugh?

AlterNet readers had a lot to say about a recent article explaining the popularity of Rush Limbaugh.

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Censorship is never the answer. I hate defending people like Limbaugh, but if you think he shouldn't have the freedom to express himself, then you are in the wrong, not him.

Annis counters:

This is how liberals allow people like him to flourish, by allowing him rights which he would not be prepared to allow the rest of us.

If we have a Muslim preaching hate every weekend, and inciting other fanatics to rise up against us, then this is regarded as incitement to violence and/or hatred, and is a criminal offense.

If we have neo-Nazis (for want of a better term) holding meetings to further an agenda of anti-Semitism, then they are breaking the law.

If we have people like the odious Westboro Baptist Church spewing their anti-gay filth, then they are breaking a law and will be punished -- in fact Fred Phelps would not be permitted access to this country (the U.K.).

This is not about censorship; it is about the rule of commonsense law. We do not have people like him here, and he would not be permitted a platform. Show me one thing he has ever said which is positive and constructive and designed to be inclusive. Who needs this?

This is not about someone's right to free speech. It is about keeping a bowl of pus boiling in the kitchen and putting up with the stench because of some imaginary "freedom." You try exercising your "freedom of speech" in a public place controlled by the fascists and see how far you get before you are arrested.

Bizeeb does not agree:

That's pure B.S. Rush Limbaugh does not go on the air and urge his listeners to commit crimes. (Jesus, I can't believe I'm defending Rush Limbaugh!) He says the usual Reaganesque crap that conservatives have been saying for 30-plus years.

Further, do you think that Germany's banning of Nazi symbols such as the swastika is appropriate? If so, you're not really in favor of free speech. Claiming support of free speech while allowing certain "overly offensive" things to be banned, is not support of free speech, it is supporting censorship.

Biflspud calls out both liberals and conservatives for engaging in smears and politicking at the expense of intelligent discourse:

Both left and right are attempting to brand each other in order to deflate the other side's arguments without actually considering them. Look at the current and continuing efforts to brand Obama as a socialist Muslim -- regardless of the logic of the stimulus package, we are told we need not think that hard, because being a socialist, Obama filled the stimulus full of socialist agendas.

So, with Limbaugh rearing his ugly head, the left is spinning him as the face of conservatism. Conservatives are like Limbaugh, and they want you to lose your job.

It's clever politicking, but it's not discourse. Then again, we haven't had relevant political discourse in this country for decades, so it's not surprising that we see little more than clever gamesmanship.

But Lilly points to something that’s different about the conservative version:

Millions of Americans are chronically full of rage. It's a short step to justifying that rage by turning it into a feeling of persecution (I am angry at being denied what I deserve because I am white, Christian, male, etc). And persecution, in turn, justifies aggression (what's being done to me is unfair and I'm not going to take it any more). This puts the aggressor on moral high ground. It is exactly there, on the moral high ground, that such as Limbaugh and [Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin do their evil dance, assuring the already rageful that not only is their rage justified, but that a conduit exists between their rage and something that's happening in reality. Limbaugh is a propagandist, and Palin is a rabble-rouser. Does anyone remember the 1930s in Europe?

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