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October 30, 2009

Limbaugh, Freedom and The NFL

Derek Shackelford

Several weeks ago talk show host Rush Limbaugh garnered national headlines with his participation in an ownership group attempting to purchase the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams. Mr. Limbaugh was not going to be the majority owner just a partner in the ownership group.


A few civil rights groups raised the question whether or not Limbaugh’s participation would be beneficial to the National Football League. Several NFL players also spoke out against his participation.   It would be fair to say that Mr. Limbaugh is somewhat of a controversial figure. No one can deny the vast amount of listeners that tune into his daily broadcast. He has a national following. He has been widely considered the voice of the conservative movement. The discussion has even centered on whether or not he is the leader of the Republican Party, considering his voice and audience.


Rush Limbaugh is one who appears to have the freedom to say just about anything that he so chooses. It is widely known that he totally disagrees with President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party on all issues and makes it known in his opinion that President Obama is leading this country on a downward spiral.


He has blamed the president for just about everything that is not right, even when other people act irresponsibly. It is certainly his right to disagree and offer his opinion on the administration’s policies. That is the great thing about living in a democracy.  We are free to disagree with the policies of government.


I support his right to express his views as he sees fit on his radio program. However he wants to increase his audience then so be it. Even if I disagree with most of his views, he should still have the right to host a radio show.


Now with that being said, some of the remarks that Mr. Limbaugh has said have been insensitive and racist. He has made some disparaging remarks about the National Football League and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. He had one time offered analysis on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown. That was until he made these comments: “"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,'' Limbaugh said. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."


Subsequently in the wake of these comments Mr. Limbaugh resigned.  On his radio program, he commented, “"Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it." These are just some comments about the NFL; there are certainly others that could be mentioned.


Again I repeat, he is free to offer his opinions and say what he feels, while at the same time players and fans are within reason to disagree with his possibilities of owning an NFL franchise. Some offer the notion that current NFL player Michael Vick is playing on a team, so why should Mr. Limbaugh be denied from participating in an ownership group?


Well, Vick paid his due and was held accountable for his breaking of the law. I do not think I have heard Mr. Limbaugh apologize for his remarks and he shouldn’t if he feels they were not out of line. So, while he has the freedom to speak, others have the freedom to oppose.


All too often we hear the mantra that people should have the freedom of speech and be free to say what is on their mind. But what must be remembered is that with freedom comes responsibility. We want the freedom to say what we wish but it appears we don’t want the responsibility to be accountable for what we say.


Besides, it was not the NFL who denied his membership into ownership. It was ultimately the ownership group who did not feel that his contribution was beneficial. In other words, it was not personal it was business.


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