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This month conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was inducted into the Missouri Capital’s Hall of Famous Missourians. A bust of the radio personality will be put in Jefferson City next to other famous Missourians such as Harry S. Truman, Mark Twain, John Ashcroft, and Walt Disney. Limbaugh was born and raised in Cape Girardeau. Thus, being a Missourian and being famous, he does qualify for such an honor. Republican speaker Steven Tilley chose Limbaugh, along with Dred Scott, a slave who sued for his freedom and children, and legendary baseball player Buck O’Neill to be honored this year.
However, not everyone agrees with this honor.
“This is a thing we don’t think should happen,” says Seileach Corleigh. She is the vice president of the Columbia Area chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “We don’t believe Rush Limbaugh is the kind of person who deserves to have a bust along side famous Missourians like Mark Twain and Harry Truman.”
The timing of his honor is also unique. According to the official Missouri House of Representatives website, of the 39 people who have been honored, only four have been honored while they were still alive: journalist Walter Cronkite, baseball legend Stanley Frank Musial, ex-The Price is Right’s Bob Barker and former US Attorney General John Ashcroft. John Ashcroft was not honored until 2006, one year after stepping down as attorney general to work in the public sector. Limbaugh is still an active radio host.
He is currently embroiled in a controversy as a result of comments he made on his syndicated radio show. Political pundits have been debating the morality of birth control for the past few months. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) held a congressional meeting to discuss insurance coverage mandate for birth control, but there was one problem: The panel assembled to discuss a women’s health issues did not include any women. Democrats in congress tried to invite a Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, to give a personal testimony but Issa blocked the request.
Women in congress were outraged, and when a photo was released of the all-male panel, so were many Americans. As a result, on February 23 another meeting was held, and this time Fluke testified as to the importance of birth control as a medical necessity for millions of women.
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke, who goes before the congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex?” Limbaugh said on his radio program in response to the congressional testimony. “What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”
Her name is Sandra, not Susan.
“So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.” These comments were made February 29 and March 1.
In Fluke’s testimony, she spoke about the financial burden that is placed on women whose insurance companies don’t cover contraception. She was asking for private insurance companies to cover the medication, not the federal government. Additionally, her testimony was not about sex.
On March 3, Limbaugh offered an apology to Fluke on his radio show:
“I’ve always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program. Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. I do not think she is either of those two words. I did not think last week that she is either of those two words.”
So, amidst all of this controversy, when word got out that a sculptor in Kansas City was preparing a bust of Limbaugh’s likeness for the hall, many people thought this couldn’t be true. Then Tilley confirmed the rumors. Just as quickly as the anger over his comments spread, so did outrage over the idea of him being honored.
Forty-seven democratic leaders in Missouri wrote a letter to Tilley saying Limbaugh did not deserve to be honored in the capital. On March 19, the local chapter of NOW protested at the capital with 600 rolls of toilet paper and signs reading “Flush Rush.” On March 28 Planned Parenthood of Missouri delivered a petition baring 35,000 signatures against Tilley’s decision in a “Rally Against Rush and for Women’s Health.”
Tilley’s assistant says he is done speaking to the media on this matter. Previously, in he has responded to criticism
“Due to the nature of the career paths many inductees chose, current members of the hall often had detractors and were not always uncontroversial or universally loved and adored,” Tilley said in a statement released in early March. “Rush’s work in broadcasting revitalized the talk radio format and many say he even saved the AM dial from extinction.”
Limbaugh was inducted on May 14. According to CBS News, the ceremony was limited to Republican lawmakers, other invited guests and select members of the media. Additionally, police were present for precaution because of the ongoing disapproval of his induction.
A bust of Limbaugh was placed in the famous hall on May 21.
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