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Commentary: Shame On Rush
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 2, 2006

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON--While Inclusion Daily Express does not usually cover news having to do with politics or finding "cures" to disabilities, a story involving both of those has taken a public detour right into our disability rights consciousness.

Last Monday, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh used the airwaves to condemn Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, for appearing on television commercials supporting candidates who favor stem cell research.

This is an important issue for the television and movie actor, who, like the late actor Christopher Reeve, lobbied for federal funding for such research that is believed to hold promise for treating or preventing conditions associated with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and others.

What deserves attention, here, is how Limbaugh, who opposes stem cell research, characterized Fox's appearance on the ads: "He was either acting or off his medication . . . He is using his illness as a tactic to secure the election of another Democratic senator."

Fox later said that the irony is that he was too medicated; that the medication he uses to treat Parkinson's can actually increase the shaking and swaying seen on the ads.

Another irony is that Fox also supports Republican Senator Arlen Specter, from Pennsylvania, and other Republicans that support stem cell research.

Still a third irony is that Limbaugh is accusing Fox of using his disability for personal gain. This from a man who made a big deal out of receiving a cochlear implant in 2003 after losing his hearing as a result of Auto-Immune Inner Ear Disease, and publicly stating three years ago that he was seeking treatment for addiction to pain killing medication that was initially prescribed to treat his pain after spinal surgery.

While I won't climb onto the "research for a cure" bandwagon, I respect Fox's right to have his cause. I also respect how Fox, whose autobiography is titled "Lucky Man", has refused to portray himself and others with Parkinson's disease as "victims".

Shame on you, Rush.

If you truly abhor the exploitation of disabilities, why not go and pick on someone else, like, say, Jerry Lewis?

"Limbaugh, Not Fox, Has His Priorities Wrong" by Lennard Davis (National Public Radio)

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