Related cartoon here.
… also tangentially related: this 1995 Molly Ivins column on Rush Limbaugh.
The kind of humor Limbaugh uses troubles me deeply, because I have spent much of my professional life making fun of politicians. I believe it is a great American tradition and should be encouraged. We should all laugh more at our elected officials–it’s good for us and good for them. So what right do I have to object because Limbaugh makes fun of different pols than I do?
I object because he consistently targets dead people, little girls, and the homeless–none of whom are in a particularly good position to answer back. Satire is a weapon, and it can be quite cruel. It has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful. When you use satire against powerless people, as Limbaugh does, it is not only cruel, it’s profoundly vulgar. It is like kicking a cripple.
On his TV show, early in the Clinton administration, Limbaugh put up a picture of Socks, the White House cat, and asked, “Did you know there’s a White House dog?” Then he put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton, who was 13 years old at the time and as far as I know had never done any harm to anyone.
When viewers objected, he claimed, in typical Limbaugh fashion, that the gag was an accident and that without his permission some technician had put up the picture of Chelsea–which I found as disgusting as his original attempt at humor.
On another occasion, Limbaugh put up a picture of Labor Secretary Robert Reich that showed him from the forehead up, as though that were all the camera could get. Reich is indeed a very short man as a result of a bone disease he had as a child. Somehow the effect of bone disease in children has never struck me as an appropriate topic for humor.
Updated again: more here.