In his futuristic slapstick comedy "Sleeper," Woody Allen plays a Rip Van Winkle-like character cryogenically frozen in the 1970s and thawed out 200 years later.
In one memorable scene, he is asked to watch film clips from his past and identify the historical figures in them.
Showing him a clip of sports announcer Howard Cosell droning on in his much-mimicked monotone, his interlocutors speculate that enemies of the state must have been forced to listen to him as punishment for their crimes. Allen confirms that listening to Cosell was, indeed, a form of torture.
If "Sleeper" were remade today, Rush Limbaugh could replace Cosell as the popular public figure whose idiosyncratic and bombastic speaking style perplexes people of the future.
Listening to Limbaugh may be an unpleasant experience for liberals, just as listening to Janeane Garofalo is for conservatives, but can it really be described as torture?
Bridget Boyd of Houston evidently thinks so.
Boyd got busted for driving on the shoulder of Beltway 8 during morning rush hour last Oct. 4. She claims her engine was acting up and she was only driving a "few feet" to exit the freeway. When she protested her ticket, she was arrested and placed in the back of a police car, where she was "forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh make derogatory racial remarks about black people" on the car radio.
Though Boyd went before a judge later that day and had her case dismissed, she nevertheless spent the night in jail and was not released until the next morning.
One day shy of a year later, she filed suit in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, against Harris County and the deputy who arrested her.
We can sympathize with someone perhaps needlessly arrested and left to spend a night in jail, but the Rush Limbaugh flourish in her complaint makes us wonder about Boyd's story.
A transcript of Rush's Oct. 4, 2010, broadcast could clear things up if the court is willing to listen.