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Plan to lower flags for Rush Limbaugh sparks debate across Florida

Posted at 7:58 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 08:13:04-05

LEE COUNTY — People around the state are reacting to the Governor’s decision to lower flags to half staff in honor of Rush Limbaugh.

Governor Ron DeSantis is preparing to issue an executive order on the matter, even as members of his own cabinet are voicing opposition.

We had the chance to speak with professor Peter Bergerson, who once taught Limbaugh. He said Limbaugh was always controversial in life, so it’s no surprise that his death is stirring up another debate. But he said, in deciding to lower flags, the Governor is thinking less about the talk radio legend, and more about his political future.

Governor DeSantis made that announcement in a press conference in West Palm Beach Friday.

"Once the date of internment for Rush is announced, we’re going to be lowering the flags to half staff," said DeSantis.

But while people at the press conference cheered the decision, Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried is not.

In a statement released Monday, Fried announced "I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor's forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh – because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division.”

Bergerson tells us, Limbaugh has always created these types of reactions.

"Some people see him as a hero, and others see him as the devil incarnated," said Bergerson.

Bergerson taught Limbaugh at Southeast Missouri State University. He said, he has mixed emotions about the decision to lower flags in his honor.

"Is it out of place? Well, that’s a political judgment," said Bergerson.

But it’s a political judgment many aren’t happy about, like a teacher in Lee County, who posted an email he sent to the School District on Facebook, saying “As a teacher where a majority of our students are females, people of color, immigrants, and children of immigrants, it would force them to honor their abuser.”

The School District has not yet decided whether it will comply with the Governor’s executive order, but despite those negative reactions, Bergerson thinks this is a smart political move.

"This is bringing some political advantage to the Governor by doing it, and he’s up for reelection next year, and the Rush voters will remember that," Bergerson.

And Bergerson said, for localities that refuse to comply with the order, it could do more harm than good.

"If some county or some school district refused, frankly they would just be making an additional case for the Governor. It would prolong the controversy, and he’s going to win," said Bergerson.

A date for Limbaugh’s internment has not been decided yet. We also reached out to Lee County to see if it was planning to comply with the Governor’s planned executive order, but we didn’t receive a response.