Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Do liberals have compassion for Rush Limbaugh? Should they? Is there poetic justice?

I think we all agree that if it were a liberal pundit who was revealed as an addict under similar circumstances, Rush Limbaugh would have a field day. Do we need liberal Rush Limbaughs? Al Franken would seem to feel the answer is yes, but I'm not sure if a Rush Limbaugh could be truly liberal whatever his politics.

Suppose a violent thug is jailed for assault and battery. Well and good. But suppose the guards encourage other prisoners to beat the thug repeatedly and severely. No judge sentenced him to this extra punishment. Some would see a rough poetic justice in this, since his victim never had a trial either, but I think most liberals (and some conservatives) would agree we owe it to ourselves though not to him to prevent this. We want legal justice, not poetic justice. If it's determined that these beatings are not cruel and unusual punishment, let a judge determine the frequency and severity.

Already some conservatives want to make a distinction between getting addicted to medication and getting addicted to drugs solely used to get high. Good. Let's encourage them to write this distinction into law so that it won't only benefit celebrities. It could be a first step in drug law reform.

A few liberal columnists have tried to take a sympathetic look at the lonely and angry Rush Limbaugh behind the curtain, but I don't think anyone has truely succeeded. If we could do that, we might actually have the moral force to put compassion and rationailty back into politics. Let us feel our own anger and glee at the fall of Rush Limbaugh, and use it as a key to understand his anger at so many other groups. I am not yet convinced the two angers are always so very different.

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