Opinion

Constitutional free speech or not, its still racism

To hear Rush Limbaugh opine, you’d swear that the constitution had specific language in it that protects the right of free speech for all blow-hards and bigots. It does, sort of. Pugnacious and unforgiving, Limbaugh has been quoted as calling women’s rights advocates “feminazis” and liberal activists “commie-symps.” Limbaugh’s simplistic and scathing assaults on all things liberal are broadcasted daily on over 600 radio stations. He is extremely popular with ultraconservatives and his “let’s take everyone out behind the woodshed for a healthy dose of discipline” approach has garnered him a faithful following. He has become a very wealthy man as a result. Newsweek magazine recently reported the value of Limbaugh’s nine-year radio deal to be $285 million.
His recent comments about Quarterback Donovan McNabb receiving special consideration from the media because he is black, and because the media wants a black quarterback to succeed, have led to several counter-volleys and accusations of racism. Limbaugh’s statements about McNabb presupposed that black quarterbacks need the help of a friendly media to justify the caliber of their play. By addressing McNabb’s race as the primary factor as opposed to his physical or mental ability to play, Limbaugh infers that quarterbacks who are black are inferior. Facts tell a different tale and by all accounts McNabb is considered to be among the top ten players at his position. If Limbaugh had done some homework, he would have surfaced countless incidents of racial discrimination in the NFL that would show that African-Americans have long been wrongfully excluded from positions of importance (i.e. quarterback and head coach). Fortunately, most everyone has realized that Limbaugh was likely pushing certain buttons and may very well have counted on the backlash for publicity’s sake. It seems that nowadays almost anything passes for news and/or entertainment. Regardless, Limbaugh unapologetically sought refuge for his comments in the 1st Amendment free speech guarantee.
As a staunch believer in the constitution and the many freedoms it bestows, I stand firmly behind Limbaugh’s right to express his views, even if they are ignorant and racist. The way I see it, even blow-hards are protected. I just hope that one day Limbaugh will avail himself of another equally profound constitutional right (contained within the 5th Amendment) and do both himself and us all a favor by remaining silent, because free speech or not, he is still a racist.
Octavio Ramos is a grad student in the Department of History. He can be reached at o.ramos@umiami.edu.

November 7, 2003

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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