February 6th, 2010
01:41 PM ET
5 years ago

Limbaugh takes heat for using 'R' word

Special Olympics CEO Tim Shriver is asking Rush Limbaugh to watch his language.
Special Olympics CEO Tim Shriver is asking Rush Limbaugh to watch his language.

(CNN) - Special Olympics CEO Tim Shriver is asking Rush Limbaugh to watch his language.

The request came two days after Limbaugh repeatedly used the word "retard" while talking about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's own reported use of the offensive term to bemoan liberal activists during a closed-door meeting last year. Emanuel’s comments, first reported in the Wall Street Journal last month, were reportedly directed at liberals opposing President Obama's health care plan.

"Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult has taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, 'retards," Limbaugh said of the report on Wednesday's show. "These liberal activists are kooks, they are looney tunes."

"I am not going to apologize for it, I am just quoting Emanuel… So now there is going to a meeting, there is going to be a retard summit at the White House," Limbaugh also said.

In a letter to Limbaugh Friday, Shriver asks the talk-radio host to take a pledge to no longer use the word.

"In my own experience, when I ask people – be they first graders or media figures – to join in stopping the casual use of the word 'retarded,' they universally agree to do so," Shriver writes in the letter. "Most want to go further: They want to understand better how they can serve as agents of acceptance and dignity."

The letter came days after Shriver and four other disability advocates met with Emanuel at the White House to discuss his alleged use of the word.

"We are thankful to Mr. Emanuel for meeting with us today and hearing our concerns," the group said in a joint statement following the meeting. "He sincerely apologized for his mistake and the pain it caused in our community."


Filed under: Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Steve in Denver

    Off topic, but hey, CNN moderators:

    I have noticed you allowing multiple postings from some dispicable creature posting under "Pelosi is a see-..." Why do you allow that to pass? What part of our political dialog does that help?

    I know there is lots of vile stuff from right wingers on these fora, but really!

    How about enforcing a little civility, just the midicum of cleaning out the most vulgar, vile right wing slime on your site?

    February 6, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. user

    LMAO what a re...nevermind

    February 6, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Jacky Diamond

    I totally agree with Rush. But he should watch out for Sara "the Alaska Babe" she is already on the war path with someone else because her daughter was born with Down syn drum and I do believe it is the same issue using the word "retard" The United states has become a dangerous place. For such a Godly country everyone is ready to lynch you up for anything they find distasteful. "Retard" has been used for many decades. what is it now "Brain impaired" Yes the Liberals have ruined the school systems also. My children cant tell the difference between man and woman anymore. LOL. They stopped having "grandparents day" because not everyone has grandparents and they dont want to hurt anyone feelings. The loosing teams in sports also got rewards not to hurt anyones feelings. Your child gets expelled if they defend them selfs while someone is beating them up. They are suppose to run like cowards. I am glad we have someone like Rush who can put things back to normal. I just hope he takes care of himself and sticks around for a long time.

    February 6, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Chris

    I think everyone need to do what I do.... Make up your own words for the "no no" words of society. My r-word is "crystals". No one cares when they don't know what it means, but somehow you still get the satisfaction. When someone asks what your work means, simply reply, "Don't worry about it"

    February 6, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. Big John

    Rush is too stupid to understand. He'd rather degrade those who don't think like the "Dittiots"

    February 6, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Wmscot

    Thats "their" boy. Rush is the voice of the teagaggers and republicans even though the RNC states differently.

    February 6, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Rob Cook

    Is use of the word "retard" any different than calling someone an idiot, stupid, brain dead, and on and on? Get over it. People have been calling each other names since the beginning of time. Is it nice? Hurtful? Sure it can be hurtful, but suck it up and get over it. As Moma used to say, "Sticks and stones..."

    February 6, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. Annie, Atlanta

    Where's Sarah's outrage. Or does she think it's only ok to use the word "retarded" if you're a Republican?

    February 6, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. Steve in Denver

    "In my own experience, when I ask people – be they first graders or media figures – to join in stopping the casual use of the word 'retarded,' they universally agree to do so,"

    Well, there's your problem. rush operates at the kindergarten level. Say any stupid, insulting, or hateful thing that crosses your mind. There is no check valve between his brain and his mouth to stop from saying stupid things.

    And, by the way, Emanuel used the word once in a private setting, Palin wants him fired. Ms. Palin, why aren't you taking on the much more prolific and much more public use of the word by limbaugh? Can we say zero integrity? 100% hypocracy?

    February 6, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Steve in Kentucky

    Not one mention of Sara Palin or her hypocritical call for Emanuel's firing for using the R word about 30 times fewer than Rush Limbaugh.

    But of course CNN has to protect Sara. She's the darling after all.

    February 6, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Gil Oberdas

    Did you right wingers all note that sarah pathetic never complained about rush using the "R" word more than once in his show. Gee, birds of a feather flock together. They are called foul!

    February 6, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Joe

    So, where's Sarah Palin calling for Limbaugh's resignation?

    February 6, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Death Panel Sarah

    Limbaugh doesn't care!!!

    He says these things to shock people and make audiences laugh(for money)!!!
    This IS the kind of people the reptili'con's are!!!
    None of them care about people....they only care about big business and money!!!

    I wish the 'common' people that support the reptili'con' party would understand this!!

    February 6, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Alan

    Oh please, don't make me defend Limbaugh, but he is right. Fifty years ago retarded was the acceptable word for whatever they call it now. In fifty years will people be getting in trouble for saying mentally challenged, or learning disabled. What will the new PC word be?

    February 6, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Jack

    Why are you worried about Limbaugh, he is what he is. An individual who's ego and mouth are on overload. If hot air could bottled and sold for energy, we'd have no energy crisis.

    Those that follow him are not much better!

    They are a disgrace to my generation

    February 6, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Kelly in Seattle

    For the first, and perhaps only time, I actually agree with that big bag of hot air Rush Limbaugh. America has become overly sensitive to everything that's said. Being mean and calling a retarded person a retard, is something I would not do. But I see no reason that the term cannot be used for someone who acts like a retard. And I would usually reserve the term for people like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, anyone in the "Tea Party", etc.

    I also find it noteworthy that other media sites have already noted that Ms. Palin has specifically backed down from demanding an apology from the fat bag of wind, fearing she may anger other retards who follow him. She has not however, backed down from demanding that Rahm Emanuel be fired for his use of the word. Just another example of the double standard of Republicans/Conservatives.

    February 6, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Mo

    Seriously? That is what makes CNN?? Rahm says it = no news, Rush talking about how awful that was = BIG NEWS to the mainstream media! Such a double standard!!

    February 6, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Jack

    Most of us have used this word in the past. I certainly did. And then it was explained to me that it can be offensive to those suffering this disability or have loved ones who are disabled. It's a minor switch to stop using this term casually or derogatorily. Most adults can make the change without much effort once they understand how hurtful this word can be. Most adults, that is, but not all. Some, like Rush, may find it difficult. It would be having to admit one is wrong and it also requires moving from an adolescent mind-set to an adult level of understanding. Being a 50 something year old man with an adolescent emotional and intellectual outlook could be an impediment. It's hard to grow up.

    February 6, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. republicans hate america

    And Palin will be on his show very soon because she only thinks that those that use the word retard should be fired only if they are liberal. where is her outrage on this? phony!!

    February 6, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. jrzshor

    was the retard summit more about the kennedy clan than anything else?

    February 6, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Lee

    Limbaugh needs to take some more Oxycontin and shut up.

    February 6, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. inthewest

    Go away Rush..you are the classroom bully. You need to be expelled from the universe.

    February 6, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. Edwin

    Interesting that Palin is silent about it. She was so up in arms when Emanuel used the word, demanding he be fired for saying something was "retarded" - now Limbaugh is criticizing "liberal activists" for getting upset.

    Clearly we can learn two things from this: 1) either Limbaugh thinks Palin is a liberal or he is really ignorant of any facts, and 2) Palin's attack on Emanuel had nothing to do with that word, only politics.

    February 6, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. Jacob

    Rather interesting that the "liberal activists" are the ones Limbaugh calls out, when in fact it was political bedfellow Sarah Palin who brought Mr. Emanuel's comments to the headlines earlier this week. This overweight pill head needs to give it a rest.

    February 6, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. jules sand-perkins

    The Special Olympics are wonderful.
    That said, there is another important matter here: freedom of speech as related to political correctness.
    Personally, I do not use the word "retard." It is awkward and brutally offensive.
    Still, it is only a word, and I will always defend YOUR right to use that word if you want to do so.
    I hope that you will similarly defend my right to freedom of speech.

    February 6, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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