Thursday, October 26, 2006

Resenting the handicapped parking spaces

Everything Rush Limbaugh says means the same thing.

The actual words he uses are irrelevent. He might as well be talking gibberish (Yeah, I know.) or in code. Whatever he says needs to be translated and is as easy to translate as pig-latin.

No matter what he says this is what he means: "Rich white guys like me should run the country and be allowed to do whatever we want, and anybody or anything that gets in the way of that needs to be steamrollered in a hurry."

This isn't even a forumulated thought with him. People like Limbaugh don't think. Well, most people don't think. They don't put together thoughts. They have feelings that they attach words to without giving much care to what those words are and how accurately they describe the feeling.

Some people say the same words over and over even as the feelings they want the words to describe change. Other people just keep changing the words, usually because they don't remember them from one day to the next. The words were just sounds they gave to the feelings.

That's why it's next to impossible to cause people like Limbaugh to feel ashamed of what they said. You can't hold them to their words. Repeat their words back to them and they don't recognize them. Their own words on paper or said by someone else or even said by themselves on tape or on video aren't attached to the feeling that was behind the words when they said them.

So when Limbaugh makes fun of Michael J. Fox and accuses Fox of going off his meds or exaggerating the effects of his Parkinson's disease or of pretending to how much he even suffers from it---Limbaugh did all of those at once; self-contradiction is a breeze when you don't care what the words you're saying actually mean---and to every decent-hearted and right-thinking person sounds as if he's making fun of Fox for being sick and by extension mocking everyone with Parkinson's and even everyone with an illness or a disability, he wasn't saying anything really.

He wasn't expressing his feelings about Parkinson's, Fox, illness, or disability. He wasn't giving us his true opinion of the morality or efficacy of stem cell research. My guess is that he has no feelings on any of those subjects, one way or another.

Although I'm sure he got a sadistic thrill out of mocking Fox, Fox doesn't matter to him as a person. Fox is just another obstacle to the one thing Limbaugh feels strongly about, which is as I said, that rich white guys like him should run the country and be allowed to do whatever they want.

Fox's offense was making campaign commercials for candidates who will vote to expand and fund stem cell research, but Limbaugh doesn't care about that. What he cares about is that those candidates are Democrats who will also vote to make it harder for rich white guys like Rush to get away with whatever they want to get away with.

Rush's anger and outrage are real; the words he used to express them weren't. This is why if the Republicans find a disabled person to "exploit" his disability in a campaign commercial for them or if they get a bunch of their own celebrities together to make a hysterical ad (and I don't mean funny hysterical, I mean expressive of hysteria) about the evils of stem cell research based on ignorance, superstition, and lies, Rush won't care and you wouldn't be able to get him to feel a twinge of remorse about his hypocrisy and double-standards.

Because the feeling behind his mocking of Fox and his indifference to Republicans doing the things he claims Fox is wrong for doing is the same.

Whatever interferes with the rule of rich white guys is bad, whatever advances it is good.

Inside, Rush feels like a man of integrity and principle.

Within himself he is consistent. He is true to his guiding star.

Now, the difference between someone like Rush and most people who don't think but feel is that he has an inkling that his words and his true feelings don't line up. He covers for this by calling himself a performer and by encouraging his defenders and fans to describe him as if what he's doing is political satire. He's just being funny, folks. Exaggerating for emphasis.

But most of his listeners do not know that they don't think. And they do not know that Limbaugh's words are just sounds carrying an emotion.

The great evil that Limbaugh does is that he gives his listeners words that both help them express their hatreds and resentments and hide from themselves the fact that they hate and resent.

"Rush is a smart guy, he must be, he's famous and he's rich and people I hate hate him, and he uses these words, so if I use these words I'll be saying something smart."

And so now we've got a whole bunch of people who think they're being smart when they mock the disabled and the sick.

But while Limbaugh probably doesn't give people with disabilities a thought when he's not using them to stir up the pot on his show, a lot of his listeners do in fact resent and hate the disabled.

They resent and hate anyone who seems to be getting the kind of respect and consideration they feel screwed out of themselves.

Limbaugh has one "idea" to push, put and keep the rich white guys like me in charge. But most of his listeners are not rich white guys. They are financially struggling white guys.

Putting and keeping the rich white guys in charge is of course the guiding "principle" of that wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business Inc, the national Republican Party, but this has been a problem for the Republicans since William McKinley's time. This is supposedly a democracy. Everybody's in charge. And most everybody is not a rich white guy.

Asking people to vote to put the rich white guys in control is asking them to vote against themselves and their own interests.

So the Republicans have developed a secondary message.

Put us rich white guys in charge and we'll make sure you become a rich guy too.

We'll invite you to join the club.

The rich white guys have been in charge for decades now, though, so how come we're all not rich?

This question was anticipated by the rich white guys. The rich white guys had to anticipate it because they don't really want the people who vote for them in their club.

The reason we haven't been able to make you rich is that Liberals keep us from doing it.

It's because Liberals keep giving everything you've earned and deserve to their special interests.

You're out of a job or you're attending your third choice of colleges because some black guy got your place instead.

You're not getting ahead no matter how hard you work because your company is strapped because of all those environmental regulations it has to meet or all those frivolous lawsuits it's had to fight off or all those rules the corrupt union bosses tricked the guys down on the factory floor into demanding.

Your marriage has gone bust, your son is gay (You're gay!), your daughter's knocked up because of Feminists, special treatment for gays, all that sex in all those movies and TV shows Hollyweird Liberals produce and force you to watch.

Your town's falling apart, your neighbors are moving out, your store's going under because the factory had to close, the company's moving operations to the South because all those brown people the Liberals keep letting in the country will work for slave wages.

The middle manager being escorted out the door by security, his few personal belongings hastily packed in a cardboard box, downsized---rightsized---his boss told him because the company's had to cut back, passes the carpenters at work installing a ramp for that woman in accounting who's in a wheelchair, what's he going to think? That the company has money to make her life easier but not money to see that his kids eat next month? On his way through the parking lot he walks by six empty handicapped spots before he gets to his car which he can no longer afford to make the payments on, what's going through his mind?

The "smart" words he's been handed by Rush and the other peddlers of resentment to attach to his feelings.

Over at Tapped yesterday, Ben Adler was speculating that the Republicans "have it in for the disabled."

I don't think that's true, although for a fact the judges Bush has been appointing are not of a stripe to look kindly on any disabled person's claiming rights that get in the way of Big Business Inc making gobs and gobs of money, as much of it as BBI desires and in any way it wants to make it.

And even though a Republican like Jim Sensenbrenner has worked to restore the civil rights enforcement powers to the Americans With Disabilities Act, George Bush is not going to appoint anyone to his Justice Department to actually go out and enforce it.

Whatever the feelings and intentions of individual Republican Congressmen and Senators might be, they belong to a party that is led by George Bush and controlled by Big Business Inc, and the upshot is that the Republican Party might as well have it in for the disabled for being disabled, because it has it in for pretty much all of us, because we are in the way of BBI making gobs and gobs of money, as much as it desires and any way it wants.

But because the Party has adopted a strategy of exploiting resentments and hatreds in its rank and file, mocking the disabled and giving people the words to do it with it is useful and easy.

And the brilliance of it is that because the words contradict themselves the people adopting them don't even have to know that's what they're doing.

Update: Shakespeare's Sister follows up:

To say that Limbaugh probably isn’t, in real life, the monster he plays on the radio isn’t a particularly nice thing to say about him, though it may seem so. In reality, it’s rather the opposite. I firmly believe he has the capacity to be a decent person (most people do); that he chooses to shed that decency as soon as a microphone is put in front of him speaks to the depth of his lack of character. It’s one thing to be the kind of person who truly hates the disabled by virtue of ignorance or masked fear or plain, old-fashioned intolerance; it’s quite another to affect that hatred in spite of knowing better to make money from the devotion of people who really do, by inflaming their repugnant beliefs.

Hat tips to, Shakes, Lemieux, Maha, and Kuusisto.

Shakes has a link to the video of Rush rubbishing Fox.

Cross-posted at the American Street.


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