Opinion Pieces on Rush Limbaugh Story

10/11/2003 - WorldNetDaily.com

Rush to Jail?

By Joel Miller

So Rush has publicly admitted he's "addicted to prescription pain medication," confirming details of a story broken by the National Enquirer last week.

If he was true to his word, following his broadcast yesterday, the nation's top talker checked himself into a 30-day drug rehab program to shake his monkey.

Beyond his personal support of the drug war, the most intriguing aspect of Rush's current problem is that, since Nixon declared war on "public enemy No. 1" in 1972, conservatives of various stripes have been the biggest boosters of the policy.

Working tirelessly to expand state and federal powers to go after dealers and users, right-wing drug warriors lobbied hard for strict sentences and tough penalties. If people wouldn't stop using drugs on their own, the government was going to force them. A drug-free America was the end, and zero tolerance was the means.

But think about this, you who are conservatives and so vigorously support the war on drugs:

Would you really like to see the legal thumbscrews tightened on Rush Limbaugh - a man admiringly thought of by millions as the leading conservative icon in this country - the way you so enthusiastically insist for other violators of the nation's drug laws?

I have no clue how the current police investigation into Limbaugh's situation will turn out, but regardless of the legal facts of the case and given that he's confessed it himself, would you like to see Rush in jail?

Would you feel a) terrible if he ended up behind bars; or b) proud that justice had been done, that yet another drug abuser was locked away from the society that he could so easily harm with his pernicious addiction?

It's easy to forget that Justice is blind. But while that scarf is tied so tightly over her eyes, Justice weighs friends and coworkers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives in her scales. She weighs our heroes and icons, and she doesn't give a hoot about the circumstances of someone's illegal drug use or his ideology, only that he is breaking the law.

The rule of law is a sword that cuts both ways, but if this sword whacks Rush, it will only prove that - despite his own support over the years - it shouldn't be swinging at all.

What possible good could incarcerating Rush Limbaugh accomplish? Would his life, professional or personal, be better off?

Would jail time help his show improve, or his newsletter get better? After 15 years of excellence, surpassing all expectations, proving himself to be the most skilled radio talent in history, it'd be hard to imagine. Consumers of Rush's entertaining and enlightening product have been more than well served over the years. I've been listening to Rush for almost half my life - not half my adult life, half my total life. Drugs didn't destroy his productive output.

The same isn't true for what jail can do. Ask former Congressman James Traficant.

What about his relationship with his family, friends and wife? Stopping Rush's addictive behavior might be a very positive thing in his personal life, but isn't that a matter best left decided among the immediate parties? Outsiders shouldn't step in and forcibly work to improve or salvage personal relationships with regard to finances or hygiene or character flaws. Why drugs?

Taking drugs is a choice - just like making an investment or, for a more negative image, gambling. But as long as Rush isn't harming anyone with his decisions, then the government should stay out of it. Or, government should also step in and make sure hubby isn't poorly investing the family savings, that he flosses daily, and isn't so selfish. After all, pride and egotism (two things at least Rush's public persona isn't lacking) do far more damage to personal relationships than dope does.

And note that it's covetousness, not drug use, that wraps up the Ten Commandments. Jealousy and envy are far more dangerous to society than funny cigarettes or little blue pills. So if it makes sense to go after drugs in the effort to save society, then it's equally sensible to send cops to round up all the envy-pushers on Madison Ave. and in the halls of Congress.

Isn't it better to let Rush sort out this problem on his own - just as we let citizens deal with their own failings in other areas, leave him free to decide what needs fixing in his own life and take care of it?

And if that's true for Rush, then it's true for others. Millions of Americans do use or have used illegal drugs. Many do so with no negative consequences in their lives; they don't beat their kids, they perform acceptably at work, and they forget their spouse's birthday with no more frequency than the rest of us. But those that do have negative consequences from abuse - what sense does it make to heap more problems on their situation by jailing them or otherwise entangling them in the legal system?

They can lose their jobs, their public standing, sometimes their families. If they bring such calamity on themselves, that's unfortunate and tough. Life's full of bad news. But siccing the state on them to produce the same results is unconscionable. Using the government to bring ruin on someone's life when he is neither harming nor defrauding his neighbor is wrong - even if it is for his own good.

Rush has admitted to having relapsed in his "recovery" from addiction. He said he checked himself in two times before this most recent trip. Clearly this is ample evidence that Rush's problem is too complex for the ham-fisted force of law to solve.

Sometimes the state should just butt out of people's lives, and one of those times is when people are struggling with drugs.

Joel Miller is senior editor of WND Books. His own company, Oakdown Books, recently published "Drinking With Calvin and Luther! A History of Alcohol in the Church."

October 15, 2003 - American Liberty Foundation

Rush and Drugs-the Conservative Dilemma

By Steve Dasbach

Conservative icon Rush Limbaugh has confirmed the rumors - he's addicted to prescription pain medication. It's obvious that he has broken our nation's drug laws. Which poses an interesting dilemma for his fellow conservatives.

According to Rush and other conservative drug warriors, "drug users ought to be convicted and sent up" as Rush himself put it. Sent up, as in sent to prison.

So here's the conservative dilemma. Should Rush, a self-admitted "drug user" be "convicted and sent up?"

If they say yes, they're advocating silencing the most powerful and influential conservative voice in America-imprisoning a man they admire and respect. If they say no, they're contradicting everything they've claimed for years about the need to fight the War on Drugs with stiff criminal penalties, including jail time, for drug users.

Do conservatives think that society will be better off if their friend and idol Rush serves a long stretch behind bars as "punishment" for his drug use? Or that a long prison term will somehow "rehabilitate" him? If not, then why would they advocate such treatment for the sons and daughters and friends of ordinary Americans?

Conservatives argue that stiff criminal penalties, including jail time, are necessary to deter drug use. But such penalties failed to deter Rush, a strong willed individual who preaches self-reliance, responsibility, and the importance of the rule of law for three hours every day. If draconian drug laws and mandatory minimum sentences didn't deter him, how likely are they to deter lesser mortals?

One presumes that conservatives embrace the ideals expressed in the Pledge of Allegiance, including "justice for all". That means the same laws are supposed to apply to everyone, whether it's a wealthy celebrity like Rush or a faceless inner-city man mired in poverty. In fact, Rush himself has advocated jail time for athletes and Hollywood celebrities who use drugs.

So if conservatives still believe that drug users should be sent to prison, doesn't that mean that Rush should be imprisoned too?

Some conservatives seem to be having problems coming to grips with this dilemma. When the bombastic Ann Coulter was repeatedly asked if she thought Rush should be sent to prison, the best she could come up with a lame comment that if her mother committed murder, she wouldn't want her sent to prison. Sorry, but that really isn't an answer.

Another prominent conservative focused on the fact that Rush got hooked on legal drugs, conveniently ignoring the fact that he bought them illegally, and that the drug laws conservatives support make no such distinctions. As far as the law is concerned, Rush is no different than the person who buys marijuana, cocaine, or heroin.

So how will conservatives resolve this dilemma? Some will probably decide to sacrifice Rush on the altar of principle. Others will demonstrate by their actions that they are simply hypocrites. They'll support Rush in his time of need while continuing to advocate prison for other drug users.

But perhaps, just perhaps, Rush's addiction will be the catalyst that prompts fair-minded conservatives to reevaluate their unquestioning support for the War on Drugs. Perhaps they'll decide that if it makes sense to let Rush decide for himself how to deal with his drug problem, perhaps it makes sense to let other drug users make their own decisions as well.

This isn't an abstract issue for me. As the father of four nearly grown children, I've had to face the challenges posed by tobacco, alcohol, and drug availability that all parents must confront. Of all the fears associated with confronting these issues, my greatest fear has always been the one Rush's friends are confronting now - the possibility that someone I care for will make a bad choice and have their lives destroyed by the criminal justice system that is supposed to protect us.

Nothing will be gained by sending Rush to prison. Nothing is gained by imprisoning other less-famous drug users either. If Rush's fellow conservatives resolve their dilemma with compassion, perhaps we can all agree to stop treating drug use as a crime and stop wasting lives. And we can continue to enjoy "Excellence in Broadcasting" for many years to come.

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