JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. • House Speaker Steven Tilley’s plan to honor controversial talk radio host Rush Limbaugh sparked an outcry this week, but Tilley is standing his ground.
A bronze bust of Limbaugh is supposed to be added to the Capitol’s Hall of Famous Missourians, where it will stand alongside Sacajawea, Mark Twain, Walt Disney and Bob Barker (famous faces still missing from the hall include Dick Van Dyke, Maya Angelou, Chuck Berry and T.S. Eliot).
Pointing to Limbaugh’s latest scandal in which he called a Georgetown law student who publicly advocated access to contraceptives a “slut” and a “prostitute,” Democratic leaders and other groups have said the Cape Girardeau-native should not be included among the honorees.
On Thursday, Tilley met with about a dozen University of Missouri students who are part of a group known as Students for a Better Missouri.
“This induction would turn our hall of fame into nothing but a hall of shame,” said Nicole Silvestri, president of the group. “We should be honoring people who better society, not people who outwardly and purposely offend the citizens of this country,”
But Tilley wasn’t swayed.
“I listened to what their concerns were,” he said. “I respect their opinions, and I hope they respect mine.”
Some have questioned whether Limbaugh meets the test of being a Missourian who has “made outstanding contributions to the state, the nation and the world.” That’s the language used in a 2002 outline of the Famous Missourians program.
Tilley said he thinks Limbaugh is worthy of the honor because he is a notable entertainer. His radio show reaches more than 15 million listeners each week.