Rush vs Rush

Advice for would-be comedians: beware of making jokes about the Rush Limbaugh “slut” controversy—you know, the one where a Georgetown law student testified before Congress in favor of having private health insurance cover women’s contraceptive costs, so Limbaugh spent the next several days calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” on his radio show? You probably shouldn’t joke about that, or about the mass exodus of advertisers (more than three dozen at last count) who have fled his show as a result, or the various celebrities who have criticized Limbaugh … don’t joke about any of these.

It’s not that the story lacks fodder for humor. Quite the opposite: the story grows more ludicrous each day, so even the most ridiculous joke you tell this morning might be “just another headline” by tomorrow’s evening news.

Consider the case of Brian Bedol, a reader of Rolling Stone magazine who, on Monday, tweeted a link to an article therein: “Peter Gabriel pulls music from Rush Limbaugh show– what’s next? the band Rush sues to protect its name?”

Hee hee. Get it? Rush (the Limbaugh) is so odious, even Rush (the band) will want to … wait a minute. The day after Bodol tweeted this little joke, Rush the band actually did threaten a lawsuit against Rush the Limbaugh, after Rush learned that Rush has been playing Rush music on the Rush show without Rush’s permission. On Wednesday, Raw Story also reported the news, and said:

Rush, the band, has formally forbidden Republican shock jock Rush Limbaugh from using their music on his radio program.“

The Canadian supergroup was contacted by The Huffington Post’s Bob Cesca this week and asked if they gave Limbaugh permission to use their music. They responded by sending Limbaugh a cease and desist letter through their attorney.”

The article went on to explain that Limbaugh played one of the band’s songs as background music during his initial slut-and-prostitute tirade. Peter Gabriel’s music also played during the segment; Rush is the second band to demand Limbaugh stop playing their songs.

Of course, Twitterers couldn’t resist adding the caption “Rush sues Rush” when they tweeted links to these stories. The same headline made Fark’s main page, thus generating dozens more “Rush sues Rush” tweets linking to the Fark thread.

Fans of Rush the band chortled over the lawsuit against Rush the Limbaugh. Blogger Benjamin Freed at Dcist gave it the headline “Rush v. Rush! Limbaugh’s Attack on Sandra Fluke May Lead to Ultimate Prog-Rock Lawsuit,” which multiple Twitterers tweeted verbatim.

@DavidKucinskas alluded to the band’s song Freewill when he said, “Rush gets cease & desist re: portraying himself as a ready guide in some celestial voice”.

Other Rush-the-band fans viewed the lawsuit as just another point in the musicians’ favor:
“Limbaugh threatened with lawsuit by supergroup Rush … Awesome!! One of my favorite bands, GREAT guys.”

Of course, other Twitterers used the opportunity to point out how they never thought Rush-the-band was all that great anyway: “‘Wait– Rush is a supergroup?’ is my only real takeaway from this article.”

Still others expressed no opinion of the band, but wondered, “What’s w/GOP leaders illegally using music breaking copyright law?”

And a handful of wise Twitterers knew better than to try joking about the story, because humor’s hard to accomplish when reality’s already indistinguishable from satire: “That sounds like an Onion story – Rush the band sues Rush the misogynist.”

Photo by Belltown Messenger

Jennifer Abel

Jennifer Abel

Jennifer Abel was an early contributor to the Daily Dot's web culture coverage. Her work has appeared in Mashable, Salon, Playboy, the Guardian, and elsewhere.