We don’t yet know if there is any truth behind this story, of course, and, until we do, all that we have is the hypothetical. Assuming, however, that there is some truth in today’s reports, this is a tragedy for Rush Limbaugh – as it would be for any other addict – possibly (again we don’t know) partly explained by the pain of his appalling ear problems. Should he be prosecuted if he turns out to have broken the law? Well, maybe that’s easier for me to answer than for some around here. So far as I can see, prosecution of drug users serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever – other than the interests of the pushers and the prison-industrial complex. It’s a bad idea – always. That’s the morality, but when we come to the practical (and worries over the selective enforcement of what is, after all, the law), this seems to be a classic case where any prosecutor should, as he is entitled to do, use his discretion and save the taxpayer a few bucks. For what it’s worth (and for those who are keeping tally) there seems to me to be a difference between the ‘abuse’ of drugs that would be legal but for the lack of a piece of paper from a doctor and those that are always illegal. That’s not an entirely rational distinction, but somehow it seems to make his alleged offense appear rather less serious than some of the alternatives.
So, if these tales turn out to be true, is Rush a hypocrite? I don’t listen to his show enough to know for sure, but from what I have seen quoted today, it seems that, on the question of drugs, he is. Now, no-one is perfect and what we sometimes call ‘hypocrisy’ is no more than a lapse, the occasional failure to live up to the standards that we proclaim. As I said, no-one is perfect. While ‘addiction’ is a concept that is abused even more than the drugs that are supposed to cause it, it’s easy to see how a temporary ‘lapse’ into drug use can become a habit. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to read some of Limbaugh’s earlier comments on drugs without – at the very least – lifting an eyebrow.
The larger problem will be if he returns to his earlier stance. Limbaugh can be ‘anti-drugs’, sure, (there are, for example, many former alcoholics who are opposed to the demon drink) but if he were to argue that drug ‘abusers’ should be jailed, he’s going to face one very awkward question.
So why weren’t you?