We learned that Rush Limbaugh died today. He was a terrible human being who did great harm to the world.

This is a brief story of how he inadvertently helped make me a progressive.

I grew up listening to him a lot, because if I was in the car with my dad & the Yankees weren’t playing, it was pretty much that or financial news.

My dad was a fan. I mostly remember a lot of yelling.

One day Rush was railing about “the gay agenda” and how “they” were destroying our culture or whatever. I’d heard the same from him before. I never “got it”, but at ~9, I guess part of me was like “okay, I guess there must be something there”.

I mean, there was a lot of yelling.

This time, though, an actual real life gay person called up the show.

He went on for a minute, calmly saying things like “Right now, I’m finishing making dinner with my husband. After dishes, I’ll need to balance my checkbook. What, exactly, are we doing to destroy your culture?“

Limbaugh had… nothing. The guy just kept asking “when we go grocery shopping, are we subverting your way of life? What are we doing?”

And Limbaugh had nothing.

And all the things the gay guy was saying just sounded so… boring. Mundane.

In retrospect, of course he had nothing. But for nine-year-old me, seeing this guy who got to be on the radio, who my dad seemed to respect, who people listened to, exposed as just an empty bag of air was really enlightening.

Anyway, eventually the caller got bored and went back to dinner. Rush followed it up with some “they can’t be trusted“ nonsense. For me, it was like the scales had fallen from my eyes. He had been exposed, and had to know it.

So thanks to the random late ’80s gay Limbaugh listener, and emphatically no thanks at all to Limbaugh himself. I’m very glad nobody will have to listen to you again and you can’t poison any more minds.