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Rush Limbaugh: Jane Fonda wants him kicked off air. Should FCC listen?

Feminist activists Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem are calling for the FCC to take action against Rush Limbaugh. Doing so, however, could create complications. 

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Will Limbaugh still seem like such a big target in two years? OK, given his tendency to utter anything that pops into his mouth maybe he will, but given the speed of the modern news cycle, we’re not sure.

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Second, do we really want the US government to use its power to enforce speech codes? Yes, the First Amendment is not absolute, but if liberals go after Limbaugh in this manner, conservatives won’t just sit there, inactive. Plenty of folks on the right will are mad about Bill Maher’s words about Sarah Palin, and talk show host Ed Schultz’s language, and so forth. First they come for Rush Limbaugh, and then they come for Rachel Maddow.

“The US has been well served by legal and social norms that stop the government from targeting, punishing, or censoring political speech based on the perceived offensiveness of its content. Weakening that norm would result in attempts by the left and right to use speech codes as a cudgel against opponents,” writes Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic today in a piece that does a good job of summarizing objections to such an attempt.

Third, rightly or wrongly, Steinem, Morgan, and Fonda are jointly a red flag to many on the right. If they continue to attack Limbaugh, even conservatives who don’t like his methods will defend him. The Women’s Media Center might be better served to let less high-profile activists take the lead in this fight if they really want it to succeed.

“No longer is it good enough to disagree with conservatives. They must be fired from their jobs, separated from their advertisers, booted from the airwaves, buried under a prehistoric rock,” writes W. James Antle III, associate editor of the conservative American Spectator, today in a piece titled “The Hush Rush Syndrome.”

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