Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Limbaugh Problem

There's been some minor kerfuffle lately about Rush Limbaugh and The Dark Knight Rises. He makes the case that the new Batman movie is an allegory for the 2012 election with the "dark knight" representing President Obama and Bane representing Governor Romney (a play on Bain Capitol, the venture finance company that Romney founded). This is, of course, patently ridiculous. The movie has been in production for years, the character Bane was created in the 90's and has been featured in one Batman movie already. And if you dig into the politics of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight franchise, you'll find that it reflects social conservatism, not liberalism. So people have been looking at Limbaugh and chortling at what a dumb thing this was to say.

People are missing the point. Limbaugh isn't stupid. He just assumes that his audience is.

If you've listened to that segment or read the transcript, you'll note that Limbaugh punctuates his argument the the now famous sound byte of President Obama saying "If you own a small business, you didn't build that," which sounds damning until you take the 20 seconds to find the context of the quote. If you listen to the few sentences before, it's obvious that the word "that" is a reference to roads, bridges, infrastructure, etc. In short, anyone who uses this quote without its context is telling you a deliberate lie. I don't know about you, but I don't appreciate being lied to.

I see what you did there, Mittens.
Limbaugh, at least in the segment I linked to above, uses this quotation liberally. This tells me that he is not interested in conveying truth to his audience. So when he spins ridiculous malarky about a movie, he's not doing it because he thinks he's telling the truth. But Kurt, you say, do you think Limbaugh telling lying to his audience is that big of a problem?

No. The problem is that it's working. I don't think Limbaugh's audience is necessarily stupid, but they're certainly willing to be taken in by a convenient deception. Just look at this recent poll. The number of Republicans who think President Obama is a Muslim has doubled since 2008. We're getting mired in these stupid non-issues and losing track of the big ones, like the President's willingness to have a drone strike called on a U.S. citizen.

Isn't there enough disturbing truth out there without wasting time on meaningless lies? I say shame on Rush Limbaugh for having such a poor estimation of his audience. And I say shame on his audience for not disappointing him.


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