Rush Supports HSUS-So He Should Get Rid of His Ears

Posted on 05/07/2009


The Irreconcilable Differences of Rush Limbaugh and HSUS.

Tina Perriguey

Rush Limbaugh’s opening line is a radio talk show classic. “With half my brain tied behind my back – just to make it fair.”  It’s a funny line, but many of his most ardent supporters have begun to wonder if it’s time for him to stop phoning it in.
On April 16, Rush released two Public Service Announcements supporting the “Humane” Society of the United States (HSUS). It should be noted that their name is misleading – HSUS doesn’t operate a single animal shelter in the U.S. With well over $203 million in assets, less than 4% of their income goes to hands-on care of animals. True animal welfare advocates regard HSUS as, by far, the most dangerous “animal rights” organization in the country.
Mr. Limbaugh’s advocacy for HSUS ignited a firestorm of outrage and protests from farmers, hunters, sportsmen, responsible pet owners, and political conservatives. 
 In a stroke of timing that seemed to bring the Irony Police pounding on the door, on Friday, April 17th, Mr. Limbaugh held his 19th Annual Cure-A-Thon for the  Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Although it was still ostensibly “Open Phone Lines Friday,”  calls protesting his HSUS support were refused. The call screener gave the excuse that Rush wanted to focus on the cause of Leukemia and Lymphoma. 
I happen to know quite a bit about LLS. I’ve also done fundraising for them, but since I have no money or power, I did it the hard way – the way many Americans do – with Team In Training. This means that every dollar raised represents miles of blood, sweat and tears. Nothing like an Olympic-distance triathlon or half-marathon to prove you really want to cure cancer. Team In Training can be physically brutal, but the rewards are immeasurable – including friendships with remarkable Americans who are quite literally, fighting for their life every day. So Rush and I were on the same page on Friday April 17th, except for two things.  I don’t work with half my brain tied behind my back. And perhaps that’s why I recognize that you can’t support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and HSUS at the same time. 
From the HSUS website:  ”The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund are actively working to end animal testing—permanently.”
Testing on non-human animals has been deemed necessary by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Americans for Medical Progress, the Foundation for Biomedical Research, Society for Neuroscience, the Deafness Research Foundation, and over 90 other charities and organizations working to alleviate suffering.*
The deafness research is a connection impossible to ignore. In May of 2001,  Mr. Limbaugh was diagnosed with a hearing problem, a result of an autoimmune inner-ear disease.  In October, Rush told his listeners that he was almost entirely deaf . The richest talk show host in the country had lost 100 percent of the hearing in his left ear and 80 percent in his right ear. He was relying on a TelePrompTer and assistance from his staff to understand his callers.
A cochlear implant was placed in his left ear to restore his hearing. In January of 2002 Rush announced that he could hear his own radio show “for the first time in nearly four months via a medical marvel.”
Since a myriad of reasonable arguments against Mr. Limbaugh’s support of the “Humane” Society of the United States have fallen on deaf ears (seriously, no pun intended) – I decided to consult the opinion of one of our nation’s most distinguished medical researchers on deafness.
Dr. Edward Walsh is a neuroscientist whose research interests include two basic disciplines: developmental auditory neurobiology and animal bioacoustics. The central themes of these interests are congenital deafness and the development of accoustical conservation protocols to reduce extinction pressures facing certain endangered species.

I asked this expert for his educated opinion on the bizarre juxtaposition of Mr. Limbaugh’s history and the new Rush/HSUS alliance. The passion of Dr. Walsh’s response reveals more than a great mind. This scientist’s heart is clearly in his work…
Dr. Ed Walsh:  Rush Limbaugh would be deaf now, cut-off from “the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man,” in the immortal words of Helen Keller, if it wasn’t for Luigi Galvani. Galvani was a pioneering physician-scientist who roughly 200 years ago touched a statically charged metal probe to the detached hindquarter of a frog and watched the leg come to life, so to speak, twitching just as it had when attached to the living frog. 
It was a watershed moment in the history of human experience; one of those instants in which fundamental insight is gained and the paradigm of life shifts forever. It was electricity it turned out, not fluids and humors, that activated muscles and nerves. The finding was revolutionary; it redirected the very course of biology, placing it onto a path that would lead directly to Limbaugh’s prosthesis. 
While Galvani’s early reflections on the mechanism underlying the action that would one day come to be known as “bioelectricity” were incorrect, as are most first impressions, his observation triggered a long, continuous and productive sequence of scientific investigation that would lead ultimately to, among many other medical marvels, the development of the cochlear implant, the device that delivers sound driven electricity to the nerve fibers of the inner ear and connects Rush Limbaugh with the “sound of the human voice;” the device that allows him to maintain a popular radio talk show and fluently pontificate on the politics of the day.
Limbaugh is one of a rapidly growing number of profoundly deaf individuals who communicate verbally as easily and effectively as hearing individuals thanks to the advent of the cochlear implant. Galvani, along with his friend, colleague and frequent rival, Alessandro Volta, opened the eyes of the scientific community to the notion that all aspects of human sensation might be artificially activated through electrical stimulation. 
Based on this profound observation, two hundred years of experimental biology involving non-human animals would be necessary to lay the foundation for preclinical and clinical efforts to realistically design and develop the prosthetic device that rescued Rush Limbaugh from a life of inescapable silence. 
Today, non-human animal studies serve as the testing ground for implant revision and refinement that cannot be explored through direct experimentation on humans, in accordance with virtually all codes of morality and ethical responsibility accepted by the civilized world community.
Given all of this, it is with a sense of paradox that the popular radio talk show host is publicly supportive of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a misleading name suggesting that the group is somehow affiliated with  the U.S. government, which, of course, it is not. Instead, HSUS is a prominent branch of the American animal rights movement that actively seeks “to end animal testing permanently.” How is it that Limbaugh, the beneficiary of this 200-year-long line of non-human animal experimentation, finds the will to repudiate the process that has served him so well, and for which he has taken such clear advantage?
This disconnect, this failure to connect the dots that link animal experimentation with the development of the cochlear implant is simultaneously disconcerting and discouraging. It is disconcerting because it reveals with clarity the human capacity to comment with authority from a position of ignorance. It is discouraging because it reveals the predisposition of far too many to accept the view of a non-credentialed celebrity for no reason other than his or her celebrity. 
I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Limbaugh look more carefully into the dogma of the American animal rights movement, of the Humane Society of the United States, and ask himself on what grounds he can accept the extraordinary benefit of the cochlear implant, or sponsor the work of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and simultaneously endorse a group with a radical agenda that would leave him deaf and thousands upon thousands of children hopeless in the face of life threatening diseases that include leukemia and lymphoma. I claim that he cannot.
Dr. Ed Walsh, PhD
National Animal Interest Alliance
Board of Directors
May 4, 2009


NICE The National Institute of Canine Experts