Thursday, October 02, 2003

Rush on drugs. The media world is going wild today over a report in the New York Daily News that "Rush Limbaugh is being investigated for allegedly buying thousands of addictive painkillers from a black-market drug ring."

What would appear to be delicious about this scandal is that Limbaugh is a big-time conservative who's hung out for years with the just-say-no crowd. What could be better than learning that the "moralizing motormouth" (the News's phrase) has a thing for Oxycontin, a/k/a "hillbilly heroin"?

Okay, had your moment of schadenfreude? Me too. Now, calm down. It appears that Limbaugh may not be such a hypocrite after all. For quite some time, Limbaugh has advocated an end to, or at least an easing of, drug prohibition.

Here's a transcript of some comments he made in 1998 on his radio show. An excerpt:

It seems to me that what is missing in the drug fight is legalization. If we want to go after drugs with the same fervor and intensity with which we go after cigarettes, let's legalize drugs. Legalize the manufacture of drugs. License the Cali Cartel. Make them taxpayers and then sue them. Sue them left and right and then get control of the price and generate tax revenue from it. Raise the price sky high and fund all sorts of other wonderful social programs.

I'm no Limbaugh fan, and I'm glad that he quit ESPN under pressure yesterday after making racially insensitive remarks about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

But though Limbaugh may indeed have a substance-abuse problem, at least he's got his head screwed on straight about society and drugs.

Under the sheets with John Dennis. The luckiest man in media today is John Dennis, co-host of the execrable Dennis & Callahan show on WEEI Radio (AM 850).

According to this item in the Boston Globe (scroll down a bit), Dennis has apologized for comparing escaped gorilla Little Joe to black Metco students.

Dennis reportedly said that the gorilla, who hung out for a while at a bus stop before being recaptured, was "probably a Metco gorilla waiting for a bus to take him to Lexington."

Obviously what Dennis said was far worse than the remarks that got Limbaugh into trouble at ESPN. You could also make a case that Dennis's little joke was worse than the anti-Palestinian diatribe that got John "Ozone" Osterlind fired from WRKO Radio (AM 680) in August.

Of course, Limbaugh is a ratings monster in political radio who was out of his element doing sports on TV, and Osterlind was not considered vital to the future of WRKO.

Dennis, by contrast, is one-half of a hit show. It just demonstrates that if you've got the numbers, you can get away with just about anything.

Dylan on the Man in Black. Bob Dylan has posted a wonderful tribute to Johnny Cash. (Thanks to P.C. for the link.)

Understanding dyslexia. I worked with the Boston Globe's Gareth Cook from 1996 through '98, when he was the Phoenix news editor. I never would have guessed that he's got dyslexia -- certainly not from the blistering edits he sent back to me.

Anyway, Cook has written a terrific column about his lifelong struggle with this learning disability. It should be a must-read for teachers and parents.

New in this week's Phoenix. Former Republican political operative Virginia Buckingham settles in at the Boston Herald; some thoughts on the death and life of the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said; and things are looking up for Democratic political consultant Michael Goldman, recovering from a serious leg infection.

Also, Herald employees are offered a buyout, but no one can answer the question everyone's asking: Can layoffs be avoided?

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