Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rush Limbaugh gets his comeuppance

Opinion -
What does this have to do with Mexico and Gulf Region affairs? Nada.

(First published on MGRR's main page March 6, 2012)
As everybody knows - everybody who didn't just land on Earth from Planet Krytpon 2, anyway - Rush Limbaugh is an ultra-conservative radio commentator in the United States. Maybe I should say ultra-conservative by my standards. Rush no doubt would have been comfortable working with Joseph Goebbels in the 1930s. America is stuck with him in 2012.

I believe in free speech, a free press and the First Amendment. Some who claim to really don't. So I fully support the right of people like Rush to have their say. As a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote decades ago, in the "marketplace of ideas" the truth will eventually become manifest, and everything else will be flushed down the toilet (that last very inelegant clause is my own, not the judge's).

I believe in free speech but not in hate speech. You may be distressed by illegal immigration, but that doesn't justify calling undocumented persons degrading names. You may be opposed to state recognition of same sex marriage (as I am), but that doesn't excuse the use of harsh or cruel invective when referring to same sex couples. You may be radically opposed to abortion, but a woman who has had one should never be characterized as a "murderer," no matter how intense one's moral objection to the practice itself. And so on and so on. Hate speech adds heat but not light to debate.

Sandra Fluke is a 30 year old Georgetown University law student. Recently she gave testimony before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in support of mandated health coverage for contraceptives. There's much more to the story, to be sure. Fluke got caught up in a Capitol Hill skirmish which was set in motion by conservative Republicans who would like to prevent any and all government funding for contraceptives - a rather dinosaur notion, in my opinion. So Fluke went down to the Hill and during a very public hearing gave a woman's perspective on the issue, which was much needed in a political body where there are still far too many men who speak for Plantation America.

Rush Limbaugh didn't like it. He called Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute." He told her that she "and the rest of the femi-nazis" should make a sex tape in exchange for contraceptive funding, and then offer to buy the women of Georgetown University "as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want(ed)." Typical Rush AM radio commentary, hey?

As a graduate of Georgetown University (1974), I rather resent the big man's comments. As the father of an educated, independent, successful and exceedingly responsible 26 year old daughter, I resent them even more. The comments insult every American woman.

But now it's payback time for Rush. Some of the largest commercial sponsors of his radio program are dumping him, and a couple of stations have as well. More are likely to follow in the days ahead. Even Rush quipped this week that he couldn't reach his own office by telephone, because too many sponsors were calling in to cancel.

Rush is worth many tens of millions of dollars. The Fluke story will soon fade out, and he'll continue on just as before. Regrettably, I doubt Rush learned the simple lesson here: you don't have to hurt the messenger just because you hate his - or her - message.

Note: The photo is Rush's 2006 Florida mugshot, after he was charged with "doctor shopping" in connection with obtaining the prescription drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone. "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" - Proverbs 16:18.

Oct. 5, 2011 - The Ugly American - and the Jesuits

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