Yesterday on his radio show Rush Limbaugh offered an indignant protest of TSA groping: “Keep your hands off my teabag, Mr. President,” and then he asked, “Whatever happened to hands off our bodies?”
The answer to Limbaugh’s question is look in the mirror. The TSA’s outrageous assault on constitutional rights has indeed left many conservatives and liberals wondering how could this be happening in America? But for years, both conservatives and liberals have supported outrageous assaults on constitutional rights. They thought it would never come back to haunt them, as they supported assaults on only the rights they didn’t favor. In other words, if an ox of a group that they didn’t like was being gored, they were all for it.
The ignorance of both liberals and conservatives has been breathtaking, as they failed to understand one of the first principles of a free society—your own rights are secured only as you support the rights of others. In other words, if societal rights are not available to all, they’ll ultimately not be available to any. If government can strip some individuals of some of their rights, they can strip anyone of any rights.
Consider Limbaugh’s long standing support on the war on drugs. Over the years, Limbaugh has offered his opinion on drugs. For example:
There’s nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.
A staggering 60% of federal prisoners are in prison because of drug offenses. Throw in state prisons and you have well over a million human beings in prison because of drug offenses. Some are in prison merely for personal drug use, but Limbaugh would send them to jail too. When Limbaugh asks, “Whatever happened to hands off our bodies?” he should know. He has advocated for government to have its hands on our bodies for years.
And what about innocent bystanders in the war on drugs? SWAT teams have broken into homes, unannounced, on false tips of drug dealing. Innocent citizens in those homes have been shot dead as they tried to defend themselves against who they thought were criminals, but instead were policemen who did not identify themselves.
In those raids, we see the genesis of the violation of our rights at the airport. Most of us stayed silent or in the case of Limbaugh led cheers for our drug policy, while our fellow Americans lost their lives to the war on drugs. Those who spoke out against the SWAT team raids were told the raids were the price we must pay to keep drugs off the streets. Is it surprising that today we are told another absurd fiction that minimally trained TSA agents must grope our genitals in order for us to fly safely?
Perhaps it is piling on to point out Limbaugh’s hypocrisy is compounded by the facts that he was in rehab for abusing strong opioid pain killers and was booked on the charge of prescription fraud.
And what about alcohol? In 2007 Rush Limbaugh “bragged about surviving the wild night-before and his imbibing of ‘adult beverages’ (his euphemism for alcohol).” Yet the British medical journal Lancet reported recently that alcohol is the most damaging addictive substance even more damaging than heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines. This conclusion is based upon criteria of how “addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.”
So conservatives, like Limbaugh, want to throw drug users in the prison while complaining that their own rights are violated at the airport. Some liberals, on the other hand, want the right to use drugs, while violating the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and then complaining their own rights are violated at the airport.
Who set the stage for the TSA’s abuses? Not Bush. Not Obama. We did—by our own ignorance and hypocrisy.