The Unequal Comparison Between Harsh Political Discourse and Violent Entertainment

Like a broken clock, Rush Limbaugh isn’t horribly, pig-headedly wrong every once in a while *:
Go out and try to tell these same people that one of their top grossing movies has influenced abject perversion or radical behavior and they will attack you left and right, saying, "That's entertainment. It stands alone. People know the difference." You go out and accuse them of engaging in work, their art, such as crucifixions in jars of urine or whatever other acts of perversion they engage in that they call "art" -- their movies, their music -- and you go try to tell them that their music is responsible for criminal behavior. Look at the reaction you get from that. You are considered to be a numskull, old-fashioned, out, and not with the times. They permanently, constantly insulate themselves from any influential behavior they might be responsible for and yet run off without any evidence whatsoever and admit they've got no evidence.

This was Limbaugh’s response to critiques of he and other conservatives’ coarse political discourse in the wake of the assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. In a nutshell, Limbaugh tells the left you can’t say Sarah Palin love of guns is causing nuts to shoot people, then say Michael Bay’s love of guns or Young Jeezy’s love of guns doesn’t cause nuts to shoot people. Limbaugh is correct there, but he misses two important points.

First, the threshold for our political leaders should be higher than our entertainment leaders. Sarah Palin, in particular, is considered a political leader. She doesn’t currently hold an office (this is where I remind everyone Palin quit her job), but she is considered at least the face of the modern Tea Party movement. There are things the average person can say that we don’t want our political leaders to say (Barack Obama calling Kanye West a jackass comes to mind, irrelevant of how true it is).

More important, the entertainment Limbaugh refers to isn’t real. The movies and music are realistic, but at some point a director says cut, or a music producer stops the recording and the artist goes back to a trailer and enjoys illicit drugs and casual sex a spot of herbal tea. It is the responsibility of society to ensure the less able members (the young, the mentally challenged) know this.

This hits home for me personally as a fan of hip-hop and a father. I happily listen to songs with lyrics calling for the murder of rivals, the regular sale and/or ingestion of illegal drugs and a repudiation of sexual fidelity. I am also a (gulp) 40 year old man and know this isn’t real. And it is my responsibility to make sure my children understand the entertainment they take in shouldn’t always be taken at face value.

If Pailn and Limbaugh want to admit their discourse is mere entertainment, I’d happily put them in the same category as ‘The Sopranos’, ‘True Grit’ and the latest Jay-Z album. I imagine they would both defend themselves and their comments as deadly serious.

If that is the case, I refer to my comic book geek past: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’

* The link is to Andrew Sullivan's blog referring to Rush Limbaugh. Rush sin't getting any pageviews from me if I can help it.