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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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Despite the fact that he is batshit crazy, Rush Limbaugh continues to reign supreme over the GOP. The conservative talk show host has styled himself as the voice of the Republican Party, even as he spews hate-filled rhetoric and brazenly reiterates his hope that the president fails in his attempt to rescue the country from one of the worst financial crises in history.

His posturing is met with only quiet muttering by more moderate conservatives. Meanwhile, politicians who vocally challenge Limbaugh end up slimily backpedaling within one news cycle.

Why does Limbaugh inspire a strong enough following among many conservatives to warrant public respect by GOP heavyweights, who, undoubtedly, also privately think he’s batshit crazy?

In a recent article on AlterNet, Deepak Chopra suggests that Limbaugh’s popularity has little to do with what he’s actually saying. Instead, what keeps people tuning in is Limbaugh’s style -- that particular brand of loudly blared bile perfected by conservative talk show hosts in their decade of dominance over the airwaves.

According to Chopra, shock jocks like Limbaugh:

... exist purely as steam vents. The common citizen gets to be pissed off by the millions, unrelentingly, without cease or solution, and in return, he is praised. To be outraged is to be morally superior.

Your anger strips away tolerance, sympathy and regard for "the other." Hence the almost imperial bearing of Limbaugh, the bland certainty that because he never stops being angry, he never stops being right.

AlterNet readers had a chance to vent in response to the article.

Kcdrew writes that we shouldn’t underestimate the danger Limbaugh represents by viewing him as a distraction or a catharsis for bitter voters:

No, you can't merely be "entertained" by Rush "Porkulus" Limbaugh. You could, if he weren't any harm to people, but he is, and that's the problem. What he does to those same illegal immigrants, women, gays and all the rest of us he doesn't like is real damage.

If it were only a joke, it would only be funny and entertainment. He does damage.

And that's not funny.

peacefullaim1 also argues that Limbaugh is no joke:

While I admire and respect Dr. Chopra, I'm with you, kcdrew, on this one. Limbaugh brings out the worst in his listeners. There is something unhealthy to the point of sinister is the way he matter-of-factly states the most absurd and hateful things. He, quite literally, makes me sick...

John Annis agrees:

You're absolutely correct, and people would do well to consider that by according him any status, including that of Court Jester, they are giving him credibility.

Vile reptiles like Limbaugh have split the American public, perhaps irretrievably, and you will have to live with the consequences for years to come. It's not a prospect I could countenance, and I am surprised at the idea that this creature should be given any more breathing space.

In many European countries, a lot of what he says would be considered inflammatory and inciting, and he would be dealt with appropriately. After all, who needs this kind of filth? Don't we have enough hatred around without paying some hatemonger $400 million over the next few years just to spread more?

If you treat him like a clown but still listen to him, you are part of the problem. Why don't you just park him in the nearest psychiatric facility and move on?

But bizeeb is spooked by the seeming call for censorship in John Annis’ comment:

"In many European countries, a lot of what he says would be considered inflammatory and inciting, and he would be dealt with appropriately."

 
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