Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rush Limbaugh's Continuing War on Women

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Rush Limbaugh, a radio bully who keeps the yokels stirred up with his outrageous rhetoric and name-calling, has never been an especially big fan of women - particularly progressive and articulate women, a group he often refers to as "feminazis."  This past week he went off against a female law student at Georgetown University, and his personal vitriol toward the young lady proved to be so over-the-top and embarrassing to rational human beings - and his sponsors - that he was finally forced to issue an apology - of sorts.

The woman at the center of Limbaugh's volcanic eruption is Sandra Fluke.  Democratic members of the House tried to schedule Ms. Fluke, an expert in both reproductive rights and domestic violence, as a witness in Rep. Darrell Issa's hearing on the infringement of religious liberty by contraceptive mandates.   But the committee holding the hearing, a group of old white men, chose exclude Ms. Fluke from testifying saying that she had not been scheduled in a timely manner.  In fact, all of the witnesses that the committee wound up hearing were men - a fact not lost on the female members of the committee who walked out and refused to be a part of Issa's vagina dialogues.

Members of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives decided at that point to hold their own hearing on the issue of whether insurance companies should be mandated to offer coverage for contraceptives.  Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was in attendance at that hearing, and one of the witnesses called to testify was Sandra Fluke.  A significant point that Ms. Fluke made during her testimony was that contraceptives are often prescribed for other medical issues besides protecting against unwanted pregnancies.  She recounted the experiences of a friend of hers who had to take  birth control for a medical reason unrelated to the purpose of contraception

So Sandra Fluke got to say her piece, albeit in a more limited setting than had originally been intended.  That should have been the end of Ms. Fluke's involvement in the matter.

But the Gasbag from Cape Girardeau wasn't going to let her get off so easy.  On February 29th, 2012, just six days after her testimony before the Democratic Members of the House, Limbaugh ravaged Ms. Fluke in one of his on-air tirades:

"What does it say about the college coed Susan (sic) Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex?  What does that make her?  It makes her a slut, right?  It makes her a prostitute.  She wants to be paid to have sex."

The very next day, March 1st, while much of literate America was still reeling from his venomous attack on Ms. Fluke, Limbaugh continued to spew.  After declaring that Ms. Fluke "is having so much sex it's amazing she can walk," he went on to make this outrageous offer:

"So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you  feminazis, here's the deal.  If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something  for it, and I'll tell you what it is.  We want you to post the video's online so we can all watch."

The following day, March 2nd, he lobed one more on-air bomb at the coed.   He claimed that Ms. Fluke has boyfriends "lined up around the block."

So much ignorance, so little time.

America's social media caught fire on this issue after Limbaugh's first assault on the young woman, and he apparently decided the best way to fight back was to keep sloshing gasoline on the flames.  That's the Rush modus operandi - get louder and louder and never back down, and soon people will bend to your will.  That seems to work with prominent Republicans who are in absolute terror of Limbaugh and live in fear that he will  one day turn on them - but it doesn't work with that portion of America who know how to read, write, cipher, and employ reason - most of whom have daughters, sisters, and/or mothers who use birth control.

Many reasoned that if Limbaugh was calling one woman a slut for using birth control, then he was calling all women who use birth control sluts also.   (And it was never even established that Ms. Fluke uses birth control herself - just that she has expert knowledge on the matter.)

So the online petitions went up demanding that Republicans repudiate Rush - and that his sponsors drop him. The responses from most prominent Republicans fell far short of outrage.  House Speaker John Boehner had his spokesperson state, "The Speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate" and he then went on to be more critical of groups who were fundraising off of Limbaugh's tirades.  Little Ricky Santorum noted about Rush, "He's being absurd, but that's you know, an entertainer can be absurd."  And Mitt Romney managed to put forth the weakest criticism of all by stating, several days after the outrages, "It's not the language I would have used."

In fact, the only presidential contender to show any cajones in this matter at all was Barack Obama.  The President (a father of two young daughters) called the Limbaugh remarks "reprehensible."  He also called Sandra Fluke personally to offer his support and to tell her that he was sure her parents are very proud of her.

It's nice to know that there is one adult running for President.

And then the sponsors checked in.  By March 3rd Sleep Train, Select Comfort, Quicken Loans, GoToMyPC, Citrix, Legal Zoom, and the Cleveland Cavaliers had all pulled their advertisements from Limbaugh's radio program.  It was when the money started talking that Rush Limbaugh finally caved and issued a weak apology to Ms. Fluke.

But Limbaugh's grumbling apology was too little too late for some advertisers.  Today David Friend, who runs an online backup company called Carbonite, said that his company is quitting Limbaugh and won't be coming back.  Mr. Friend has this to say:

"No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady.  Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency.  Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show.  We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse."

Amen, Mr. Friend.  Amen.

Rush Limbaugh may soon be relegated to relying on Glenn Beck's famous gold hucksters for his advertising revenue.

One final note:  The Harris organization released the results of a national poll today which showed Rush Limbaugh to be the least liked political pundit in America.   For Republicans, the top three least liked were:  Nancy Grace (25%), Rush Limbaugh (24%), and Chris Matthews (18%).  For Democrats, the top three  least liked political pundits were:  Rush Limbaugh (66%), Bill O'Reilly (45%), and Sean Hannity (23%).  The top three least liked political pundits of Independents were:  Rush Limbaugh (49%), Bill O'Reilly (31%), and Nancy Grace (25%).

So Rush's support comes from a minority of a minority - albeit a very mean minority - and those individuals are giving broadcasting life to a buffoon who hurls hate and stupidity with wild abandon.   Prominent individuals who should be standing up to him, are instead cowering in his wake.  It is well past time to have a more civilized public discourse,  and the most critical obstacle to be overcome along the road to civility will be Rush Limbaugh.

A boycott of sponsors worked with Glenn Beck, and it will probably be the only thing that will work with Rush Limbaugh.  All of us need to let his sponsors know exactly how we feel.

Sandra Fluke, stand tall.  You are a fine American and a credit to us all!

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