Editorial: Republicans misunderstand Limbaugh’s fame

There is no doubt Rush Limbaugh is a famous Missourian. As the controversial ultra-conservative host of a radio program that caters to a right-wing perspective, Limbaugh has carved his niche as one of the dominant Republican pundits of his generation.

Given Missouri has something called the "Hall of Famous Missourians" in the Missouri State Capitol building, and that spot is there for the specific purpose of recognizing famous Missourians for their achievements and contributions to the state, it makes sense that someone who has gained Limbaugh's level of notoriety be included.

Say what you will about the man, whether you agree or disagree with his words. He is a national figure, a famous person, from the state of Missouri.

However, the manner in which Republican House Speaker Steven Tilley went about inducting Limbaugh was not only an abuse of power, but we feel symbolized a fundamental lack of understanding for what people like Limbaugh represent.

The "Hall of Famous Missourians" is governed by a state board, and the busts of those inducted are displayed in a building belonging to Missouri taxpayers. Tilley and his fellow Republicans, knowing the decision to include Limbaugh was controversial, broke from tradition by barring not only Democratic lawmakers from the ceremony, but locking the doors to the House chambers and having the Missouri State Highway Patrol stand guard to keep the public away.

These incredible steps beg the following question: If such methods are needed when inducting a person into the "Hall of Famous Missourians," is that person truly fit for what the Hall represents?

No one can argue Limbaugh's fame, but the second measure — contributions to the state — is in doubt if those steps were truly needed. We'd argue that they were not, and by using them GOP lawmakers missed the point of what Limbaugh is.

To celebrate Limbaugh's celebrity is to celebrate freedom of speech, the First Amendment. For better or worse, Limbaugh capitalizes on that freedom. It has earned him fame and fortune.

Ironic that in celebrating him, the rights of other Americans were sacrificed. Their freedom of speech was revoked, replaced by locked doors and guns.

— The Kirksville (Mo.) Daily Express

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