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Rush Limbaugh, the First Amendment, and the Free Market

Written on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 by

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March was the critical month for Rush Limbaugh and the 600 radio stations that carry his program.  Would his ratings be up or would they be down?  In radio, the ratings are an ever-present referendum and the only vote that matters is that of the listener.  This is a rule of thumb that weak-kneed, politically correct sponsors should have considered before abandoning Rush in the aftermath of his comments about a graduate student at Georgetown University.  In fact, the results of this over-played incident—one that had the President of the United States and the mainstream media crying crocodile tears for the student in question—could not have turned out better for Rush if he had planned the whole thing.

At a time when liberal politicos disguised as comedians verbally assault conservatives on a regular basis using rhetoric that makes Rush’s comments seem bland by comparison, the  mainstream media—thinking it smelled blood—called for “the King’s” head. Reacting to pressure from leftwing organizations and the mainstream media, sponsors quickly moved to abandon Rush like rats jumping from a sinking ship.  But then a funny thing happened.  Rush’s ship didn’t sink—not even close.  In fact, it is still steaming full speed ahead gaining new listeners and new sponsors.  Meanwhile, the politically correct rats that jumped ship are now drowning in the backwash of Rush’s growing wake.  Some of the departed sponsors have even sent an SOS to Rush hoping he will rescue them from their sinking profit margins by taking them back.  They shouldn’t count on it.

Score one for Rush Limbaugh and conservatives everywhere who are fed up with the political correctness imposed on them by liberals who can dish it out but can’t take it.  But while congratulating Rush, don’t forget to score one for the even more important winners in this episode: 1) the First Amendment, and 2) the free market.  In the wake of the “slut” controversy, Rush Limbaugh’s rating are up, he has gained a host of new listeners—his listening audience now exceeds 22 million people, and he is adding sponsors as fast as they can sign up.

Rush’s victory is a victory for the First Amendment because freedom of speech means nothing if it does not mean the right to insult another individual.  This is the real test of freedom of speech.  If one individual cannot hurt another’s feelings without fear of legal retribution, we do not have freedom of speech.  Soft, soothing, agreeable speech that is welcomed by the listener does not need a constitutional guarantee of protection.

America’s commitment to freedom of speech is why liberals are so committed to political correctness.  They cannot afford to openly attack free speech so they do the next best thing: enforce politically correct speech through socio-cultural pressure.  With this approach they have the willing and powerful assistance of the nation’s public schools, colleges and universities, and the mainstream media. Of course, it is only conservatives who are required to observe the rules of political correctness.  The rules do not apply when liberals attack conservatives, Christians, or the growing number of minorities who refuse to toe the line of liberal orthodoxy.

Rush’s victory is also a victory for the free market.  In the aftermath of his comments about the Georgetown University student who wanted the American taxpayer to foot the bill for her contraceptives, leftwing organizations saw an opportunity and immediately began pressuring Rush’s sponsors to drop their support of his program. Some of the more timid of his sponsors did exactly that.  They now wish they hadn’t.  As it became obvious that Rush’s listening audience was increasing in spite of the best efforts of the left, free market principles took over and new sponsors started supporting his program as fast as they could be signed up.

Rush apologized to the student in question for his choice of words, but not for speaking out strongly on an issue of concern to millions of Americans.  Apparently there are a lot of Americans who agreed with Rush that college students should not expect taxpayers to finance their sex lives.  In the process, Rush won an important victory for his program and, more importantly, for the First Amendment and free market.  Congratulations Rush.

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