Yep, he’s all over the news right now. He’s Godzilla to the Tokyo of American politics. He strides through breathing flames, leaving wreckage and ditto-head worshippers in his wake. He’s huge, despised, loved, followed (by both despisers and lovers) and unstoppable. Although now that he’s taken on Sailor Moon and her sisters, he may be headed back to the depths of the sea from whence he came.
And people wonder, puzzle, ask, investigate: “What drives him. What makes him do what he does? What ancient radiation mutated a supposedly normal child into Rush Limbaugh ? Why does he do it?”
Simple. It’s because Rush Limbaugh is fat.
Now, before you put your fist through your screen or send flames my way, give me a moment.
I’m also fat, morbidly obese, XXXXL. Have been most of my life. If you’ve never seen me, I look a little like Ganesh. Only less enlightened and with fewer arms. Some of my best friends are fat, my lovers have all been fat and even my sexual aesthetic is fat.
So what does this mean ? It means I know whereof I speak. Because I am Rush Limbaugh. I’ve lived his life, know what drives him and could probably have wound up where he is, if things had been a little different. You see, Rush was bullied horribly as he grew up. How do I know ?
- fat kid
- grows up in American Midwest
- goes to school with other children.
Ipso facto, QED, he was bullied. 1 in 7 kids has been bullied between kindergarten and 12th grade. Between 4 and 8th grade, the statistic goes up to 90% (those were my worst years). Bullying isn’t harmless or easy to undergo, and it sure as hell shouldn’t be a “normal part of growing up” as it was described to me.
As a matter of fact, let’s call it for what it is: mental, emotional and physical abuse. It’s brutal, sadistic and can be deadly. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for kids under 14 and bullying is often a factor. They call it bullycide.
Try these statistics:
- Over half, about 56 percent, of all students have witnessed a bullying crime take place while at school.
- A reported 15 percent of all students who don’t show up for school report it to being out of fear of being bullied while at school.
- There are about 71 percent of students that report bullying as an on-going problem.
- Along that same vein, about one out of every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeated bullying.
- One out of every 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
- Some of the top years for bullying include 4th through 8th graders in which 90 percent were reported as victims of some kind of bullying.
- Other recent bullying statistics reveal that 54 percent of students reported that witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school.
- Among students of all ages, homicide perpetrators were found to be twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied previously by their peers.
- There are about 282,000 students that are reportedly attacked in high schools throughout the nation each month. (www.bullyingstatistics.org )
The scars are permanent, shaping the victims mind and soul as only abuse can. I can name my three biggest tormentors in jr. high, even though I haven’t seen them in 45 years. All those moments of pain and humiliation have stuck with me. They are my most vivid memories, branded in my brain with the heady mix of fear, anger and adrenaline. The perfect mix to make trauma permanent and deep.
But you remain angry.
You have been programmed for anger and self-loathing, fear and hatred. Even those who loved you didn’t help. Helping someone with their “problem” of being fat usually plants a life-long tape worm of “there’s something wrong with you.” The anger, rage, and hatred bubble and roil and maybe you learn to suppress them, push them down, direct the energy elsewhere and maybe you don’t develop high blood pressure, eating disorders or ulcers.
Maybe you find a career which allows you to direct that anger outwards.
Or you use that speaking talent and get into radio. You power your rhetoric with a glib tongue and 30+ years of fermented anger. You get to strike out at those who don’t have the podium you have. You get to trash and insult others, hurt them the way others have hurt you. When you get called on it, you fall back on the school tactic: “I was only joking. Can’t you take a joke ? I’m the class clown.”
The fact that these others are innocent and didn’t do anything to you is irrelevant. You get to strike out, you get to stand above them, rule over them, get your ass kissed by surrogates for those who hurt you. You throw your anger in their face and brag about your success. As the Klingon’s say: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
And for every meme of hate and anger you throw out, there’s always more. The supply is never ending.
And that is Rush Limbaugh. That is me. That is what is created by bullying of the young and different, the weak and helpless.
So that is the lesson we can take from all this. Not that Rush Limbaugh is vile and mean. That’s old news. Not that he’s a misogynist and a racist. Also old news.
Actually, that may be inaccurate. People like Rush don’t say mean things because they have a principled political/social stand. They take the stand so they can say mean things. The key is finding the language that hurts, no matter where the politics may be. So for Rush, conservative politics is the stance that not only allows him to be a bully, but rewards him for it. A politics that values strength, masculinity, aggression and dominance.
Is this fair and accurate, you ask ?
I ask: can you imagine the Klingons as liberals ?
The lesson, as Andrew Vacchs has put it so well, is “We make our monsters.” Rush Limbaugh is the creation of bullying. So in this time when the issue of bullying is becoming more and more worrisome (about damn time) it looks like Rush Limbaugh may actually be our most qualified poster child.