Letter to the editor: Rush Limbaugh’s talk does not reflect UVM

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  I do not support Rush Limbaugh or listen to his show, and consequently, I strongly disagree with the way student groups have handled the recent controversy surrounding his name.

     John Bramley’s decision to maintain UVM’s contract with WVMT does not necessarily indicate support for Rush Limbaugh and to imply such a correlation is spurious at best.  

     As WVMT’s owner Paul S. Goldman stated, “In no way does what Rush say represent us or the station, let alone UVM.”

      Limbaugh and UVM are two independent agents availing themselves of a neutral medium – one does not explicitly endorse the other. 

      Bramley is correct in suggesting that, “[l]isteners contacting WVMT directly would have a larger impact.” These students’ ire, though understandable, seems misplaced. UVM’s involvement in this scandal is peripheral at most, and activists would more effectively assail the source itself.

      Furthermore, I object to the specific language used in the protests. “This is not an issue about free speech, this is an issue about hate speech,” declared one student. However, the two issues are inextricably connected. 

      While I personally disagree with Limbaugh, and find his remarks asinine, I understand that setting a precedent for excluding unpopular sentiments from free speech law is a slippery slope. 

      Political climates can change, and those who set such a precedent can easily end up on the wrong side of it. 

    Censorship goes both ways: it wasn’t so long ago that sex-positive literature was widely prohibited under anti-obscenity laws. 

    By denying free speech to any person, however hateful or ill-informed they may be, we make ourselves vulnerable to similar denials. Only through commitment to neutrality and equality can we ensure the protection of First Amendment rights for all.

     As Noam Chomsky said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”