Rush busts into the People’s House

Rush Limbaugh is offensive to a lot of people. He’s God’s gift to others. That wide difference of opinion led to a bizarre event at the Capitol Monday afternoon that was a mixture of rights and wrongs.

Photo courtesy House Communications

I had a college professor for Sociology 101 who started the semester by saying, “If I don’t piss you off, I’m not doing my job.” That got our attention. And that’s what Limbaugh does to audiences every day. He incites them, provokes them, shocks them … all to get their attention.

Art is the same way.

Its very purpose is to provoke thoughts and feelings. Just like celebrities, some art exists merely to be beautiful, some to enrich our lives through iconography, emotions, and yes, even outrage.

The freedoms afforded us have served us well, especially the freedom of speech, which we’ve used often to protest statues throughout the United States. Such as:

Natchitoches, La. — An 82-year-old statue of an elderly black man tipping his hat — “Uncle Jack” — has been removed. The NAACP began protesting the statue during the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s. It was seen by the black community as a symbol of “the worst form of slavery known to human kind,” according to LSU history professor Charles Vincent. It was the first statue of a black man erected in the U.S. The Smithsonian wants it.

How do you think the Native Americans of South Dakota felt about an entire mountain — smack dab in the middle of their most sacred ground — bearing the faces of our nation’s founders? To them, I imagine it was like saying, “Here’s what we think of your holy ground, and while we’re at it, gaze upon a massive symbol of the very nation that has already taken everything else from you.”

Those feelings persist. Just four years ago, a gallery in Rapid City replaced a statue of a Native man with his hands tied behind his back. The Lakota thought it was degrading, even though the artist said it was meant to show that when Native Americans were put on reservations, they would never be able to live according to their heritage again. Nonetheless, the statue came down.

Photo by Chip Ellis

A statue in West Virginia depicts a somewhat masculine female veteran, and people there don’t like her. The chairman of the Senate Military Committee has suggested the statue be altered to depict her in a skirt, but local officials say it’s not likely to happen.

A slave statue was commissioned by the Downtown Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Amid outcry, the project has been cancelled. African-American artist Fred Wilson was paid for the work he’d done on the statue up to that point and was told he can “finish his work if he chooses and display it wherever he wants.” But it won’t be on the cultural trail.

Closer to home, opponents of an eight-foot statue of Hall of Fame singer / songwriter Chuck Berry in St. Louis said he should not be honored because he is a “felon and not a friend of women.” Others said he is St. Louis’ “most famous musical native son, who through his music changed race relations and culture around the world.”

Charlie Parker was one of the most influential improvising soloists in jazz, a central figure in the evolution of bop in the 1940s. He was also an alcoholic and heroin addict, which eventually caused his death at 34 years of age.

In our own Hall of Famous Missourians, there are those who were afflicted by addiction, or viewed as racists, or had various extra-marital indiscretions. They were also long deceased by the time they were inducted.

Do I like Rush Limbaugh? No. There are those in our company who do, however, and I respect their right to do so. Do I give him credit for changing the face of talk radio in the United States? Absolutely.

I’m a white woman. It’s not up to me to say whether a certain statue should be offensive to the black community or Native Americans. Likewise, no man is qualified to say whether I should be offended by Limbaugh’s comments about sex, birth control, and women.

I am.

Deeply.

I resent him for saying it, I resent him for meaning it, and I resent that his statements perpetuate a sentiment among many that women are still second-class citizens in this country.

But I can’t dispute that Limbaugh is, in fact, a famous Missourian. And I can cover events like the unveiling of his bust for the Hall of Famous Missourians and write a straight story void of personal opinion — and did.

I can even appreciate him for keeping the conversation going, for making people’s blood boil, for stirring in them a passion about politics and social discourse that gives them the voice to speak up. However, House Speaker Steven Tilley squelched that voice, and he did it in the People’s House. No matter what race, color, creed or gender you are, that should infuriate you. You just got locked out of your own House. The House that you pay for.

Critics have blasted Tilley for holding the unveiling in quasi secret, not giving notice for the public to attend, and even locking the public galleries of the chamber. We, the press, were given 25 minutes’ notice. Some news organizations that cover the capitol but have newsrooms some distance away had no chance to cover the event. If Kermit Miller of KRCG-TV, Jefferson City, had not been standing at Tilley’s office door when Tilley and Limbaugh walked to the House chamber and asked if it was okay to video record the events, media cameras would not have been allowed on the House floor to cover the event.

Democrat legislators, not yet here early on a Monday, were given no notice at all.

I defer to News Director and Capitol Historian Bob Priddy to draw the line in the sand:

“It is never, ever, proper to close and lock the doors of the Missouri House of Representatives for a private function. Never.

“In 1924, a few days after the Capitol was dedicated, a private group held its state convention in the House chamber. The doors were locked, keeping outsiders away. But not for long. When Governor Arthur Hyde heard that the Ku Klux Klan was meeting in the House chamber and locking the doors, he ordered the doors unlocked and left open. The Klan didn’t like it but the doors of the People’s House stayed unlocked.

“We have covered events in the Missouri House of Representatives since 1967. The only times we recall the doors of the House being locked, and only selected people allowed in, have been for caucuses of House members. Speaker Tilley has unilaterally assumed the power to close the House for a personal event. Not even the Ku Klux Klan at a time when it was a powerful organization could get away with something like that.”

We don’t think that’s a right this state or this nation has bestowed upon the Speaker of the Missouri House.

The People’s House.

Your House.

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9 thoughts on “Rush busts into the People’s House

  1. Very thought provoking. I really despise what Limbaugh stands for and t;he manner in which he presents it. However, you are quite right. His tirades have provoked me to research topics, go to the base of a number of stories and take a look at topics I would not have otherwise considered.

    Would I have voted him into the Missouri Hall of Fame? No. Apparently I am not representative of Missouri sentiment. However, given that he was elected, by what ever means, the presentation should have been as public as any other induction. He should receive the accolades that typically accompany the honor.

  2. I could not agree more that Tilley overstepped his boundaries by locking the doors. Clearly he was afraid that Rush’s presence would be unpopular and as a result preferred to do something underhanded and, perhaps not clearly nefarious, certainly shows that they are clearly for the 1% and not the rest of Missourians!!

  3. I AM SO EMBARRASSED FOR THE STATE OF MISSOURI TO PICK SOMEONE LIKE RUSH TO REPRESENT US ON OUR LIST OF FAMOUS AMERICANS. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT ALL REPUBS WORSHIP AT THE ALTER OF RUSH AND THAT IS WHY HE WAS INDUCTED. HE’S A VILE, CONTEMPTABLE FOOD AND DRUG ABUSER, WHICH WE MAY HAVE OTHERS BUT AT LEASE THEY CREATED BEAUTIFUL THOUGHTS & MEMORIES AND ENTERTAINED US. RUSH INCITES HATE AND ANGER AND SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED FOR THIS. HOW ANYONE MARRIED 5 TIMES, HOOKED ON DRUGS WITH DRS ALL OVER THE US WRITING RXS FOR HIM. NOT TO MENTION HIS MORBID OBESITY CALL HIMSELF A CONSERVATIVE IS BEYOND ME. AND TO REFER TO SANDRA FLUKE ABOUT HER SEX LIFE WHEN HE WAS CAUGHT AT THE AIRPORT WITH RXS OF VIAGRA IN OTHER PEOPLE’S NAME . THIS IS AN INSULT TO EVERY MISSOURI CITIZEN.

  4. A-men to just about everything written above. I personally don’t think the procedure for inducting people into the Hall of Famous Missourians is correct. The fact that the Speaker of the House is the one who chooses these people without any check or balance is preposterous. All major Halls of Fame that I am aware of have committees that discuss, argue and then eventually vote on who is in and who is not. Why isn’t there a committe that is comprised of say, The House Speaker, The Governor, The head of the History Department at the University of Missouri and representatives from both parties in the State Legislature. That would be 5 people so there would be no ties. By the way, Chuck Berry was mentioned in the story. I understand his crimes and his misogeny but he was possibly at WORST the third best known Missourian ever behind only Harry Truman and Mark Twain. Why is he not in the Hall of Famous Missourians. What Missourian who was born, raised and still lives here is more famous than Chuck Berry? Chuck Berry belongs in the Hall of Famous Missourians. If you agree go to this facebook page and click “Like”.
    http://www.facebook.com/PutChuckBerryInTheHallOfFamousMissourians

  5. Ob viously, they knew that there might have been persons attending who did not appreciate seeing Limbaugh ensconced in the Capitol. However, they had no right to do this deed in secret. Limbaugh incites lots of people, both for his views, and against his views. If he is truly a person to be honored, they should not have been afraid to be open about this. We, the people, of Missouri own this building, and it was improper to lock it up for this event. Shame on them!

  6. Bob may forget that democrats used to routinely lock the chambers and hold caucus meetings in the chamber. Democrats used to hold sessions when republicans weren’t even present, not assign republicans to committees all because they could. I would the the unending whining over a statue of an unarguabley famous Missouri yet not a word on what the US president does or legislators have done in the past in secret is just sour grapes. Bob and the rest of the capitol press corps see themselves as mor elite than other and that they deserve special treatment simply because they hold a micophone or a pen and claim to be unbias journalists. Whine all you want but the fact of the matter is and has been for sometime 1) the majoroity party controls the chamber (which has been used privately from everything form political strategy meetings to weddning and 2) The Speaker of the House soley controls the Hall of Famous Missourians. This week has been the biggest sour grapes fest i have ever witnessed. Bet Old Bob or Phil wouldn’t mind if one of their own were cast in bronze, God knows their egos proceed their actual talent and worth to society.

    • Steve, please read the entire article before posting an ignorant reply. The author clearly states that the building has been closed by members of the house for caucuses.
      Polarizing an argument with the use of terms such as Democrat and Republican that isn’t about which side of the aisle anyone sits on is ignorant. The author is talking about the fact that the Speaker of the House chose to close the doors of building without any thought to the taxpayers’ (who own and pay for the building) right to notice.

  7. I think you’re being rather dramatic. The press was allowed. Nothing happened behind any door that was shielded from the public. Security measures are common when politically controversial events take place. I don’t get to waltz in to the Speaker’s inner office any time I want. I don’t get to go say ‘Hi!’ to the governor. The last time the President was in my home town of Joplin, I’m pretty sure they blockaded my public roads so I couldn’t go down them while he was passing through. The House Chamber is certainly guarded when the State of the State is delivered and only a limited number of guests are allowed in – not the general public. So, please stop being melodramatic about the fact that you only got 25 minutes to walk up two flights of stairs from your taxpayer funded office to go report about an event.

  8. Maybe, if Rush would have worn one of the uniforms of the new LFL during the ceremony, the public would have demanded that the doors to the House chamber be locked.

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