Rush Limbaugh and Freedom of Speech

Are His Rights Being Trampled?

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Rush Limbaugh and Freedom of Speech
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After Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut, the Internet exploded with comments from people taking one side or another. And, while Limbaugh’s faithful “mega-dittoes” crowd could be counted upon to defend their champion, it was the “strange bedfellows” that were made that confounded many.

Bill Maher came out in open support of Limbaugh’s free speech rights. And, he came out as opposed to the advertiser boycott that Limbaugh is currently under. These two points have been found at the crux of much of the arguments that people are filling comments sections about (including our own). In fact, the main things we hear here are:

1) Limbaugh was right. That girl is a slut.

2) Limbaugh’s statements degrade public debate on an important issue to the level of juvenile name-calling.

3) Limbaugh has First Amendment free speech rights.

3) An ad boycott violates Limabugh’s free speech rights.

4) If someone advertises on Limbaugh, I will not do business with them.

5) If an advertiser leaves Limbaugh, I will not to business with them.

Personal opinions are going to swing all over the map. Let’s set those aside for a moment and deal with the ad boycott as it relates to free speech rights.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, First Amendment. That, of course, does not indemnify a person against civil suits for slander, libel, defamation of character, etc. Free speech does have limits and consequences. Other than a handful of misguided folks who think that Limbaugh should be “banned”, no one is suggesting a legislative removal of the talk show host, not even his much-hated opponents on the left.

When given the opportunity to comment on Limbaugh’s statements, even President Obama did not suggest that he be “banned”. Limbaugh has long been a fan of and believer in free market forces, the dollar vote. An advertiser boycott is a pure expression of those very forces. Someone does not like your product. They get the word out that your product is poisonous. People abandon your product.

Some people like to draw distinctions between advertisers and listeners. They say that it would only be an expression of pure market forces if listeners were abandoning Limbaugh, not if advertisers were abandoning him due to listener pressure. But, many conservatives are putting that same principle into play in response to the boycott: If you pull you ads from Limbaugh, I will drop my business with you. How is that not the same kind of “intimidation”? Now a business can’t decide to drop its ads, whatever the reason, lest they face a backlash? Fair is fair. If Netflix or Regal Assets decides to drop Limbaugh, and they lose business because of it, how is that any different from LifeLock staying with Limbaugh and losing business because of it?

Rush Limbaugh is losing advertisers. At least one has said they are leaving because they can’t support his statements anymore. Business will be gained, business will be lost, opportunists will take advantage of the whole thing. But, no one is stifling Limbaugh’s speech on the basis of law. Therefore, debate over free speech rights has no place in the argument. He has them, he has never lost them.

That doesn’t mean that he, nor anyone else, anyone else, does not have to face market consequences.

And guess who knows that all too well? Bill Maher.

Maher lost his former television show, “Politically Incorrect” in the wake of a scandal resulting from something he said on the air after 9/11, even after he apologized. In that fracas, advertisers also pulled out. Perhaps Maher is skittish about ad boycotts because of his own painful memories. But, one cannot feed from the free market teat and smile, then complain when the milk goes sour because of your own actions. It has nothing to do with “free speech”. It’s simply what happens when you tick off enough people. Maher should know that. And so should Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh and Freedom of Speech
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  • Adam

    No he’s not having his freedom of speech trampled. The whole ‘freedom of speech’ crap is thrown around way too much, yet no one seems to get it. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech in that the federal government couldn’t shut Rush down for expressing his opinion. It doesn’t say anything about one person publicly shooting their mouth off, and private entities not wanting their product associated with it. Understand that the majority of the populace aren’t’ Rush supporters to begin with. So that means to over 50 percent of the population, having your product associated with him could be construed as bad thing. With this last three day long tirade, it could cause serious damage to your brand with not just a simple majority, but perhaps 80 to 85 percent of the population by having your product on his show.

    He deserves this. It wasn’t just an off-the-cuff remark like Imus, or Jason Whitlock. This was a complete jerk-off spending large portions of his show over three days calling this woman a slut and a prostitute, insulting her parents, and demanding she posts sex videos. He crossed the line into blatently trying to harm this woman with his speech, which is not protected right against other citizens wanting him out.

  • Tacy A. Taylor

    After sifting through the many comments, and listening to people argue back and forth ( some with more name calling )I am saddened. I to originally thought that Rush again, was cruel and over the top. I also believe in good manners. Why are advertisers not allowed to exercise their freedom to withdraw from his show? Are we giving him more attention than he deserves? Why have we all become so confrontational and angry. We are never going to solve the worlds problems if we don’t calm down, listen, think before acting and speaking, and just be nice to one another. Sound stupid and impossible?….. So is the way we are headed.

  • rick

    chuck should know his daughter is a slut and a whore but what can you expect she learned it from her liberal whore mother

  • Bryan

    One of the items miss in this debate is that the Obama Administration either through its own funds or their SuperPAC are paying about 2 million people to police the internet, listen to radio and television station and go on the attack when anyone talks against their agenda. People like Rush’s followers will do so solely on principle.

  • Kathy

    Double Standard is what I see.
    The left wing can call the right wing bigots yet the right
    wing is not allowed to call the left wing sluts.
    I’m not saying either one is correct, just saying, it’s all
    immature name calling no matter what – we think so differently
    that that is the only way we can get each others attention somehow.
    It really is a shame how much this is divided more and more.
    No, liberals, being modern for the sake of being modern isn’t good logic.

  • Chaz .

    BOTTOM LINE: It’s a free country. Limbaugh is free to say whatever he chooses,
    and his sponsors are certainly free to bail on him if they choose to do that.

  • TT

    Although I do not agree with Rush, he has the right to say whatever he likes, but he and we have to understand there are consequences. Why can’t we just stick to the facts and not personally attacked people.

  • Barry

    I think you have it about right! Freedom of Speech is a key factor. However, the double standards and hypocrisy of the Liberal Left are a fact of today’s life and media!
    Sandra Fluke attends a Roman Catholic University Law School and expects them to pay $3,000 annually for her birth control meds! Ms. Fluke is a Democratic Activitist who has no problem embarassing the Catholic Law School that is trying to educate her! She has no shame! Do you ever wonder how Ms. Fluke will answer the Ethics Questions on her Bar Examinations!
    Like David Letterman….the slimy and sleazy left wing night Show host who had sex, regularly, with 4 or 5 of his female Staff despite the fact that they were the age of his Granddaughters! He had all the “power” in this environment of the Late Night Show! A Special Room at CBS for his sexual escapades with Woman young enough to be his Grandaughters! This sexual discrimination and sexual harrasmaent case was so compelling that it called for an immediate Firing of Letterman! His infidelity to his Wife and child were of no consequence to him. He uttered a few minutes of a half hearted apology and the Left Wing media rushed to his defense and pushed the event to the back burner!
    And CBS said everying was fine and Letterman still had a job after sexually violating several young Women! Just beyond belief! But remember, CBS Cares! Left Wing, Liberal Media like CBS has different standards, no, acutally no standards in cases like Letterman, no matter how disgusting the incident!

  • http://elias10 tony

    Rush is a well known man that likes to stir the kettle and the more bad things he says the more people will listen to him on the next day forward just to hear what the apposing side has to say,, all it does is built up he’s ratings,,, All he is a man with a mouth, powerfull because of the people that listen to him and they fallow by example.. if he did’nt have the audiance he wouldbe a simple person like you and me. If people would just stop listening to him and makeup there own decssions. this country wouldbe better of. Limbaugh and the rest of he’s clooneys like hanidy ,, lavin ,,, beck can kiss my ass.

  • W

    The 1st Amendment does not protect Rush’s right of free speech (or anyone else’s free speech rights) against advertisers’ boycotts, economic boycotts, economic pressure, social ostracism, or criticism. It protects his right of free speech against the authority of government. I am not aware of any efforts on the part of government to abridge Rush’s free speech rights.

    1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law…. abridging the freedom of speech.” [Protection against state and local government authority extended through application of the “due process clause of the 14th Amendment: “…nor shall any State (state government) deprive any person (within its jurisdiction) life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that “liberty” includes the right of free speech (Gitlow v New York, 1925).]

    It is, in fact, a good thing in our society to have non-governmental limits on speech, such as advertisers’ pulling sponsorship of Rush’s show, in order to preserve the 1st Amendment. Without these limits on speech, those wanting to silence speech they do not like would be quick to call for government regulation, which would erode the 1st Amendment. There is nothing wrong with advertisers, advocacy groups, and society in general registering their disdain, disgust, or disapproval of things that loud-mouth, bombastic, crackpots say in public.

    One note: since Rush’s radio show is carried on braodcast radio stations (public airwaves), the government (FCC) may have some jurisdiction, but I doubt they will get involved in what is ultimately a matter of slander against Ms. Fluke.

  • http://Yahoo FRED

    Where does it indicate Rush free speech has been effective – one must take responsibility for what he/she says.

  • Barbie

    I support Rush all the way. The fact that the idiot thinks the government should pay for her birth control is ridiculous. And who uses that many condoms? You can also get birth control for about 5.00 without health insurance if you go with a generic. It is her choice to spend that much on condoms. And doesn’t the guy usually pay for the condom anyway? It’s been that way in my experience.

  • Al

    Hello To All: Again, before some of you folks “get up on your hind legs” and wring your hands and take short dep breaths ans whine lets look at the FACTS! the young woman in question freely aired her personal sex habits to Democrat members of Congres. No question about that. When shee did this she opened the gates to critisim of her BEHAVIOR. She exercised he RIGHT of FREE SPEACH and so did Rush and others. Although, as I have said before in e-mails to Rush, that “its NOT what you say, its HOW you say it”. That is what I perceive is Rush’s problem, how he says things, NOT what he says. I don’t know if any of you remember the Neo_Nazi march through the Village of Skokie, Illinoi back in the seventies, but and aborant as those folks were/are they, under our WONDERFUL Constitution, were FREE to express themselves in marching and speaking. If any of you don’t like Rush, change the station or turnoff the radio, or exercise YOUR RIGHT of free speach and write, call, or e-mail Rush with your comments. (Please notice that I did not suggest (“keeping your mouth shut.”)as that would be censorship and not very productive to the discussion of the FACTS. My comments to Ms Fluke are, “If you donot want to be criticized, think about what you want to say and choose your words carefully, and stick to the FACTS.


    • michael Bernard

      She didn’t talk at all about sexual activity. She talked about the financial burden on a woman who has gynecologic problems for which female hormones (birth control pills) can provide medical help. Straight forward medical need Al. Nothing sexual other than Rush’s misinterpretation of what the pills are just because they are used for birth control.
      But what’s so bad about my daughter and wife and mother and aunt and neices being in control of when they get pregnant and when they go to college and when they get a full time job? You know, being in charge of their lives.
      And you better not call all my female relatives sluts or prostitutes because they use birth control pills!!!! That would be a comment about your character, not theirs, just as Rush’s disrespect and lies about that woman are comments on his morality or lack thereof, not that lawschool student.

  • michael Bernard

    THERE IS NO FREE RIDE. Freedom caries with it RESPONSIBILITY.
    Limbaugh wants the freedom to say whatever he wants, and as long as he isn’t doing something illegal by saying what he wants, and as long as he accepts responsibility for the consequences of his talk, then he is free to use his 1st Ammendment right of “Free” speach.
    However, freedom is not necessarily free.
    When my teenager gets a license and can drive without either of his parents being in the car with him, he then has freedom. But he also takes on the responsiblity of driving safely, not getting speeding tickets, not getting into accidents, not lending Dad’s car to a friend without dad’s permission.
    Limbaugh and Maher take on that same responsibility which goes with all freedoms.
    You reap what you sow, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

  • Don211

    A Boycott is an exercise of Free Speech just as is a donation of money to a political campaign. Also, withdrawal of advertising is a right of free speech as is a boycott of those who withdraw ads.

    So let the Boycott wars begin.

  • Barbie

    Rush is an entertainer, same as Lisa Lampanelli. She can say whatever she wants so why cant Rush? If you do not like it, turn the station.

  • http://n/a Thomas C Carman

    Rush Limbaugh, freedom of speech?
    Look out for your own!

  • http://n/a Thomas C Carman

    Rush Limbaugh, freedom of speech?
    Watch out for your own!

  • John Smithers

    Rush isn’t going anywhere but up.Your focus should be on the man child Obama.

  • thomas mc

    How freakin’ hypocritical can you get?!?

    This all started because Rush tried to silence Fluke, who had every right to speak HER mind!

  • whyzupp

    It’s a shame Rush’s mom wasn’t informed about birth control.

    • http://none mona PLATT

      to bad you mother wasn’t informed that abortion was available when she was carrying you

  • Steve

    It’s simple to look up in the dictionary. Slut, def. A woman, considered sexually promiscuous. $3000 for birth control. That’s calling a spade, a spade. What’s the problem?

  • nellie mazurkiewicz

    Druggie Rush should have been fired years ago. I agree –we have free speach–but remember what BIG MOUTH RUSH did about his addiction—& even brought his poor housekeeper in it. He can’t even keep 3 wives. All he has is DITTO HEADS on his side.
    I don’t think most of them even heard the TESTIMONY. It was not about sex. I did hear it.
    And why aren’t all you so-called men or boys—yelling about VIAGRA covered by INSURANCE????????????????????????????????? Can’t afford it????? comeon boys give up SEX!!!!!!!!Be Brave DITTO HEADS!!!!!!

  • Kevin

    Everybody is out to crucify Rush for using his First Amendment Rights to make an ass of himself, and now Hanoi Jane has jumped in the fray against him. Okay, Jane you truly are a flag burning commie hypocrite. Our POW’s in Vietnam really appreciated you exercising your Freedom of Speech to support your commie buddies in North Vietnam by bad mouthing the American GIs and the POW’s. I guess she felt it was time for her to drag her pruned face and drooping ass out of that dark hole she has been hiding in to try and recapture some limelight. Do the world a favor just go away quietly and permanently.

  • jimmy moore

    Most of us see the media bias against us conservatives turn about is fair play nothing is said when liberals put there foot in there mouth and Rush and his millions of listeners arent’t going anywhere you Liberals need to start policing your own before you start bitchin about anyone else huh.

  • Vern

    Yes…free speech…even to toilet bowl prophets like Limbaugh. It is a constitutional right no matter how low your class.

  • John

    This attack on Rush is ridiculous, if you heard the entire context of the comments you would understand what he was really trying to say.
    Additionally why should we pay for this woman’s birth control, especially such an excessive amount, when she will likely “start” out
    of law school with at least $150,000her first year. Also I just heard
    a David Letterman clip in which he said Sarah Palin looked like a “slut” flight attendant. I guess we should go after him to be “equal”, of course the media is never equal when it comes to conservatives.

  • http://none mona PLATT

    why should we pay attention to Jane Fonda after she became a traitor during vietnam. her big mouth got some of our men killed, and some sent to vietnam prison. she should hide her face from the public.

  • http://www.webpronews.com/rush-limbaugh-and-freedom-of-speech-2012-03#respond Hal

    Fonda can go fish! She’s a fine one to talk after victimizing US soldiers in a war zone back in the days of “Nam”! Whe gave her, Mahr, and countless others on the fantasy news shows like CNN, NBC, MSNBC… and more, all loaded w unwatchable drivvel delivered by whiney whimps… “Dictatorship Rights” over what others choose to watch. Everyone knows she’s been a looney tune… as have all employees of the stations mentioned.. with their Cavalier attitudes and parsonomeous attitudes about everyone with whom they do not agree. I’m not paying for that child… at Georgetown Law, or any other students at any other school… to have sex!

  • http://www.webpronews.com/rush-limbaugh-and-freedom-of-speech-2012-03#respond Hal

    P.S. Kudos to Rush for shining a light on this lunatic idea from a spoiled brat at an Ivy League Law school. When she graduates the median income will be $160.000…. she can abstain from sex like other busy students… or have a field day after graduation. I just don’t have to pay for what she does inside or outside of the bedroom. However I sure don’t want to pay for her promiscuity. I consider sex out of marriage promiscuous behaviour.. didn’t engage personally so she can abstain and set a healthy example which will cost “We the Peeps” absolutely nothing! Yea… the price is right.

  • D

    OK, then the word ‘n****r’ is ok to say .. I want to hear Rush Limbaugh call someone a n****r.

  • D

    OMG.. I wrote that the “Nxxxxr” was ok to say then and this site wouldn’t allow me to publish it..I had to fill in the ‘igge’ with x’s.. so that says it all.. it is ok to call a woman a slut but not say the n word.. i think they are both wrong.

  • bryan

    Rush is a fat whining piece of shit

  • Chas

    . . . and in this photo, Rush Limbaugh describes the size of his dingus, or how he wishes it could be. Go ahead, sue me for defamation, just as I hope Sandra sues you.

  • judy brouard

    It’s fascinating the double standard by which our society continues to be ruled. Screw around as a man, you’re a STUD. Screw around as a woman, not so flattering, you’re a slut. Just WHOM do you think all the STUDS are doing IT with????? Nuns? Virgins? Schoolteachers? Hmm, no. Us sluts are their partners. As a reformed slut, I say Sandra Fluke is the one with guts, whereas Limbaugh continues to display his evident bottomless ignorance.
    BTW, why does one get fired for saying “nappy headed hos”, but keep a job over slut? Just saying……….

    • Tony

      i am astounded why anyone cares about this.A college student wants me to pay for her birthcontrol.Happens all the time WTF?

  • Surfer

    Rush’s comments do not fit under the heading of protected free speech which is the right of citizens to criticize government. Through his conservative verbal rape of several young women, Mr. Limbaugh has reflected conservative thought and more importantly, he has invited what could become a very significant libel suit in civil court. This is a case he would likely loose.

  • Patriot_Act

    I wish to GOD some of you people would learn to SPELL!!!

    Where was all this hue + cry when Don Imus was fired and shlepped his gig to RFD-TV??? Imus has called for Limbaugh to apologize face to face with Fluke…and he has characterized Limbaugh as a jerk and other fine terms.

  • Surfer

    Rush’s comments do not fit under the heading of protected free speech which is the right of citizens to criticize government. Through his conservative verbal rape of several young women, Mr. Limbaugh has reflected conservative thought and more importantly, he has invited what could become a very significant libel suit in civil court. This is a case he would likely loose.

    It is one thing to insult up to people of power, but it another to verbally rape young women or America’s daughters when you have the power of Limbaugh… He is nothing short of a verbal rapist bully.

  • Heather

    Dragon Limbaugh slays Cinderella Fluke and advertisers fall at her golden slipper. Dance Cinderella, dance!

  • Surfer

    It is ignorant to place Rush’s comments under protected free speech. Speech that is protected relates to a citizens right to criticize government… Verbally Raping young women with your audience of 15-million is a potential case of libel that can be decided in civil court. Rush would likely loose such a case.

    Rush Limbaugh was not insulting people in power, but he has verbally raped several young women. America’s daughters… meanwhile stay tuned for rush’s 4th divorce … sooner or later abusers of women get served…

  • Surfer

    All National Advertisers have left verbal rapist Rush limbaugh. It is ignorant to place Rush’s comments under protected free speech. Speech that is protected relates to a citizens right to criticize government… Verbally Raping young women with your audience of 15-million is a potential case of libel that can be decided in civil court. Rush would likely loose such a case.

    Rush Limbaugh was not insulting people in power, but he has verbally raped several young women. America’s daughters… meanwhile stay tuned for rush’s 4th divorce … sooner or later abusers of women get served…

    • Tony

      REAALLLLY Rape! what a total moron you are,i suppose Bill Maher is a serial rapist then

  • Hunter

    Any talk about a syndicated info-tainer having his or her
    freedom to say whatever they want taken away, especially
    a stalwart of the right is kinda funny. The group of people
    that are making this a news story are not (well, not exclusively)
    folks on the right, but advertisers…and if I recall the current,
    slightly-right, supreme court ruled that Corporations ARE people.
    Carrying that to its logical conclussion, the advertisers are people
    and the people are making their voices heard by withholding their
    dollars…if it’s OK for corporations to give unlimited funds to
    superPACs to “have thier voices heard” isn’t it pretty much the
    EXACT same thing for advertisers (as in corporations which = a person)
    have the right to their expression of free speach? Left or right isn’t
    the question here, the current Law of the Nation seems to trump all

  • Patriot_Act

    If Sandra Fluke’s father shot or simply bitch slaps Limbaugh, no jury in America would convict him.

    • Tony

      SHEEES 30YEARS OLD you dumass.She new what she was doing for “The Party”. Whats next we have to keep our kids on our Insurance til they are 31?You liberals are crazy stupid!

  • http://Yahoo Russell

    Limbaugh’s former advertisers are exercising THEIR freedom of speech and I salute them for it. As far as the (non)argument about Bill Maher’s remarks about Sarah Palin…he made these remarks in a stand up routine…not on his HBO show as the Dittoheads are reporting as fact..and the remarks made were against a public person who has been slavering over the limelight for years…not a concerned PRIVATE citizen testifying before Congress about PRIVATE healthcare coverage.
    Limbaugh need to bow out and return to his gated community where I’m sure all his rabid listeners live as well….

  • realrobnelson

    Bill Maher, I love ya, but you’re a bit off the mark–getting fired from your job on national TV or radio doesn’t change your ability or freedom to speak. It may diminish the size of your audience, but hey, you made a choice to try and GET PAID for what you say. Limbaugh’s free speech rights, and in fact, NO ONE’S free speech rights, are violated if someone boycotts his or any other show or product. Everyone everywhere has a right to stand anywhere they want(all within certain legal limits–don’t get snarky and 2nd grade class clown nitpicky with me) and say what they want. Limbaugh just chooses to do it on radio and get paid for it. If he loses his job on radio, that doesn’t remove his right to say the dumb shit he says. He can just go do it on the street corner with the rest of the tinfoil hats, and not get paid for it.

  • Tony

    Go Rush! Americans have put up with the Mahers,Lettermans,MS(I,m so mad at the world because i,m gay)NBC.Total double standard on speech let everybody talk not just the morons on HBO and MSNBC

  • Dennis Deutsch

    the sponsors leaving limbaugh is what the capitalists call “the free market forces at work”

  • Robert C Wallet

    Do we have standards or not? If you revile a non public person for exercising free speech, you’d better have a better rational than that.

  • Tony

    Nice Try! The American economy has been going to hell since Obama took office and he seems to relish it.Smiling, making snarky comments ,calling some “30 YEAR OLD” to console her.I dont give a s#@t about her.Her partner(s) should pay.They are gettin it.Obama is a disgrace. To lower the Presidency to this level of discussion and use his girls in the same context what????????What a bum .He has no respect for women.

  • http://windows7 ROHBAR

    The mainstream liberal news media like the flappy mouths and the vulgar remarks made by Chris Matthews, Bill Mahr, and bunch other foul mouths can make remarks toward Sahara Palin, Michelle Bachmann but not one word comes this soros, democrat, one percent satan
    worshippers never apoligize and they are not going to. And the so called elprez will never make an effort to make his liberal one world order mainstream buddies do any apoligizing. He talked about his daughters being able to say a comment without getting ridiculed, so why didn’t he say something of the vulgar remarks from the lefties? ANSWER: Double Standard!

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