Openly homophobic and conservative American radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh has died age 70 from lung cancer.
It’s news that many with the LGBTQI communities and other minorities will likely celebrate, given his tyrannical rein over American radio which for saw him ride high on a reputation for divisiveness and hateful rhetoric.
Limbaugh made his debut on American airways in Pennsylvania in 1971, following this with spots on various stations across the country. However it was around 1985, with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which was deemed by the Federal Communications Commission to hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights of broadcasters guaranteed by the First Amendment, that Limbaugh’s career really took off.
Under these new laws the balance of views presented in American media began to tip in a dangerous and unbalanced manner. Presenting an opportunity which Limbaugh latched onto, and so began his attack on everything which did not align with his ultra conservative views. In his time, not only did he take aim at LGBTQI communities, he incited racism by attacking both the African American and Latino communities, argued against sexual consent and was responsible for penning the term ‘feminazi’ as a way of putting down any woman he felt threatened by.
Though it only lasted two weeks during the 1980s, records show Limbaugh had a short lived segment called “AIDS update” in which he made jokes about a disease that had killed more than 100,000 people in the United States the previous decade. The segment started by playing songs such as Back In The Saddle Again, Kiss Him Goodbye, I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again, and Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places.
He would go on to defend Ronald Reagan and his (in)action towards the AIDS epidemic, arguing the former President was simply “protecting the heterosexual population”.
Not without his own demons Limbaugh was well known for his addiction to opioid based pain medication, being arrested on prescription fraud in 2006 in Florida. Which was ironic given his often hard lined stance on strengthening sentencing laws for drug offences.
As his career and health continued to deteriorate over the last decade, the likes of Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the Black Lives Matter movement and climate change became the focus of his attentions. Media watchdog group Politifact found 84% of Limbaugh’s statements to be false.
A heavy smoker most of his life, it was the cigarettes that ended up killing him. Passing away on February 17, his name will still be remembered for years to come for his abuse of the powers that come with working in media and reporting to the American Public.