In a Rush?

Floating in Heaven or roasting in Hell? I don’t know and the actual answer doesn’t matter to me. All I know is deciding a person’s eternal destination is above my pay grade. I’m not the judge of humankind, which is probably a good thing because if I was, Hell would be forced to hang up a “no vacancy” sign. Honestly, I tend to be far more judgmental than I have any right to be. It’s a character flaw.

As critical as I can be for the living, I aim to be more generous of the recently departed. Not everyone shares my strategy. When RBG passed away last fall, Cd’A area pastor Paul Van Noy made a public statement claiming she’s wicked and should not be celebrated as a national hero. This week, I saw similar sentiments from the opposite end of the political spectrum in response to the death of Rush Limbaugh. It seems the people who were fans of one reviled the other.

This is where the cynical jerk who typically holds a tight grip on the steering wheel in my brain eases off the gas pedal and consults the atlas to navigate these scenarios. When half my twitter feed claims heaven gained a new angel, and the other half partied like a grim reaper welcoming Hell’s newest resident, my centrist nature ran a cost-benefit analysis between being a saint and an asshole. I found myself straddling the fence.

I don’t know what Rush truly thought about God, but I know what I believe God thought about Rush. I believe God loved him like God loves every other person on Earth. I also know Rush professed to share my religious faith. Yet, when I listened to him I did not hear the same Christian morals which guide my values. Did Rush satisfy the biblical principle affording salvation to anyone who believes in their heart and professes with their mouth? I can’t answer that. I heard his words but I couldn’t see his heart. Again, such power is above my pay grade.

All I’m left with are mixed biblical commands and wise secular advice. My religion says to avoid stuff like bitterness, wrath, anger, and malice. My bible also instructs me not to speak evil and show perfect courtesy. Social norms tell us to not speak ill of the dead. Edmund Burke once advised, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

How do we balance it all? Rush was a professional provocateur who earned millions pissing off others – either pissed at him or pissed at the people he didn’t like. He normalized misogyny, bigotry, and homophobia. He turned spite into a righteous cause. He revolutionized the American political landscape from the comforts of a radio production booth. As much as he was beloved by conservatives, he was also perceived as evil by liberals.

What am I to do as someone who believes that we should let go of anger when speaking of someone who taught us it’s OK to be angry? How do we recognize someone’s death might end the abuse of others? Is not speaking ill of an evil dead allowing evil to thrive by doing nothing? Should we criticize or honor, celebrate or mourn?


I refuse to speak ill of the dead, but I don’t have to revel in their death either. If the dead is an individual who harmed society, I believe there is a better option than saying nothing and doing nothing at all.

Which leads us back to Limbaugh.

Are you mad about Rush’s treatment of women? Did it bother you when he said feminism was created to give ugly women a chance, or claimed things started going downhill after women were granted the right to vote? Were you creeped out when he sexualized the way women walk or when he called a 12 year old girl a dog? Do you believe he contributed to rape culture by claiming consent was a tool of liberals, tried to explain how women really mean yes when they say no, or said women protesting sexual harassment actually wished they had been harassed? Did you cringe every time he called a woman a slut or a ho? Did you roll your eyes when he said women have easier lives than men?

Then donate clothes, food, or funds to a women’s shelter. Support the National Women’s Law Center. Volunteer with organizations that help women escaping domestic violence, human trafficking, prostitution, and pornography. Respect the women in your lives and treat them with dignity.

Are you offended by his treatment of the LGBT community? Were you annoyed by his sexual jokes mocking gay people? Are you mad about his slippery slope argument that legalizing gay marriage would lead to pedophilia? Did you think it was bad taste for him to ridicule AIDS victims while circus music played in the background during his AIDS Update segment?

Then locate and support a local Gay Straight Alliance club. Donate to charities and support groups like The Trevor Project or It Gets Better Project. Spend time with your queer friends and listen to their coming out stories; if you don’t have any LGBT friends, make some.

Did his views on race anger you? Were you dumbfounded when he said all police sketches of criminal suspects look like Jesse Jackson? When he played a song called “Barak the Magic Negro” on his radio show, were you enraged? Did you argue with his claim there are more Native Americans alive today than any time in history or that Columbus saved us from the Natives? Do you think he was wrong to say “who the hell cares” about black voters because they’re a minority of the voting populace? Were you mad when he said the NBA should change their name to the Thug Basketball Association and sport teams should be called gangs?

Then shop at black owned businesses. Attend events organized by your local chapter of the NAACP. Listen to and learn from black voices. Support criminal justice reform measures and other legislation that aims to end racial inequity. Donate to charities dedicated to improving African American communities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Black Girls CODE, or Campaign Zero.

Were you enraged by his treatment of disabilities, drugs, and health? Did you want to defend Michael J Fox when Rush claimed he was exaggerating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? Did you yell at your radio when he said nicotine wasn’t addictive and smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer? Were you puzzled when he claimed fitness enthusiasts were taxing our health care system?

Then join a gym, exercise more, and eat a healthier diet. If you’re a smoker, quit smoking. If you’re struggling with addiction, seek help. Support, volunteer, and donate to organizations like The Michael J Fox Foundation, St Jude, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Truth, or To Write Love on Her Arms.

I will not celebrate Rush’s death, nor will I speak ill of the dead. However, I will celebrate the people the dead spoke ill of while he was still alive.

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