National Referendum on the Fate of Rush Limbaugh

Press Release January 7, 2004
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 212-613-8026 or Elizabeth Mendez Berry at 212-613-8036

Since October 2003, when police discovered records of Rush Limbaugh illegally purchasing tens of thousands of narcotics, the question has been: will Rush Limbaugh be prosecuted? The jury’s still out, but the Drug Policy Alliance has created an opportunity for people to weigh in on the radio jock’s fate before the judge does: a nationwide referendum on Rush, which asks participants whether Limbaugh should be put behind bars or left alone.

The poll is accompanied by a fast-paced flash animation that graphically explains both options. The short piece juxtaposes vintage Rush statements like, drug users “should be sent up the river” with the fact that since admitting his own addiction, he’s championed rehab for himself. It concludes by asking whether voters would like to give Rush a taste of his own harsh medicine, or leave him alone. In the few hours since the animation began circulating online, 5000 people had completed the poll.

“We are of two minds regarding Rush’s fate,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “On one hand, the Alliance’s guiding principle is that people should not be punished for what they put into their own bodies, but only for crimes committed against others. According to that logic, Rush–even Rush– should be allowed to deal with his issues with drugs privately.”

“On the other hand,” Nadelmann pointed out, “Limbaugh is the man who scoffed at the idea that African Americans are disproportionately arrested on drug charges, and suggested that the solution was to arrest more white people. Perhaps the only way for draconian drug laws to change is for people like Limbaugh to join other non violent drug offenders behind bars.”

Nadelmann is hopeful, however. “Ideally, Rush’s experiences with addiction and the drug war will encourage him to join the movement to reform drug policy,” he added. “He would be a great ally.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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