Rush To Slander
By now you have no doubt heard of Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, who garnered global attention when she tried to testify before a congressional committee initiated by conservative lawmakers considering the federal mandate regarding contraception coverage as part of a comprehensive healthcare package. Ms. Fluke was denied a place at the table of testifiers that consisted of nothing but five male Catholic priests, no doubt a very narrow sliver of public perspective. Ms. Fluke finally did get to testify at an unofficial hearing convened by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. And from that point forward, Rush Limbaugh has done his best to make Ms. Fluke conservative enemy number one.
Mr. Limbaugh attacked Ms. Fluke with one of the most vulgar terms a man can use for a woman. The radio host called this woman who he has never met a slut, a woman whose personal morals are so lacking that she will not hesitate to sleep around. He claimed that this woman is so focused on having a lifestyle that would satisfy her uncontrollable need for sex that she can’t earn enough money to enable her to have it when she wanted it. She wants the public to pay so she could have sex. Add in a few more insults and throw in a few colorful, shocking adjectives and metaphors and this is what you got from Mr. Limbaugh for three days about a woman he couldn’t pick out of a police lineup.
I’ve seen a few of the video clips of the interviews Ms. Fluke has done since she was rejected from testifying in the original congressional committee. I never once looked at her and thought she was promiscuous or lose. In fact, she has appeared to be nothing of the sort and instead presented herself as someone who is very thoughtful, particular and very careful of the image she exhibits to others.
In his enthusiasm to create fanaticism against Ms. Fluke, Mr. Limbaugh has given a great deal of credence to the argument that the conservative party is waging a strategic war of aggression against women. After referring to Ms. Fluke as a whore he offered a proposition saying that he would pay for women’s contraceptives if they would be willing to post the videos of their sexual encounters online for the public to watch.
Mr. Limbaugh’s three day rant against Ms. Fluke and women in general culminated Friday with a slam against President Obama. Aware of the rancor that is being directed at the law student, Mr. Obama called Ms. Fluke to tell her that her parents should be proud of her for speaking out for women’s health. The call came just minutes before Ms. Fluke was to participate in yet another interview on cable news network MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports. Ms. Fluke announced on the interview that she had just received the call. With his customary lack of consideration for people who disagree, Mr. Limbaugh made a kissing noise and heavily laced sarcasm to articulate his contempt of Mr. Obama.
The White House said that Mr. Limbaugh’s comments were reprehensible and crude. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is seeking a quarter million signatures on a petition asking House Republican leaders to denounce Limbaugh’s remarks. John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University described Mr. Limbaugh’s behavior as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.
Even House Speaker John Boehner made the unprecedented step of actually criticizing Mr. Limbaugh’s comments as inappropriate. While Mr. Boehner’s criticism might have been tepid and weak, it is noteworthy nevertheless because of the simple fact that in the past conservative politicians pay a price in conservative credibility for criticizing Mr. Limbaugh. It has often been the case that the conservative politician will offer a formal apology to Mr. Limbaugh for saying anything that might be interpreted as disrespectful to the radio personality.
On Saturday, Mr. Limbaugh issued an apology Saturday to the Georgetown law student saying that he did not mean to initiate a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. He said he made a poor choice of words in an attempt to be funny and had inadvertently created a national storm of controversy. After three days of using his three hour long radio show to humiliate and demean this female student, he says he simply made a mistake with his analogy of the situation. It should be noted that Mr. Limbaugh’s flaccid apology came only after a number of sponsors for his radio show announced that they were leaving.
Mr. Limbaugh’s supporters will want to downplay the seriousness of Mr. Limbaugh’s behavior will try to say that he’s just an entertainer and his political influence with conservatives isn’t all that. If he truly is a comedian he should be one that’s starving. He is hardly funny and his jokes are rarely if ever witty or clever. Instead, Mr. Limbaugh enjoys a very luxurious lifestyle. Amongst conservative his influence runs deep and he is paid dwell because of it. His remarks were meant to rally conservatives against contraceptive coverage mandate and undermine the push for healthcare reform.
Mr. Limbaugh’s humorless humor was intended to marginalize Ms. Fluke but it had just the opposite effect. He tried to dismiss her as nothing more than a provocation against conservative sensibilities, but all he did was give her the spotlight and a bullhorn. Her message has been magnified in ways that only Mr. Limbaugh could unwittingly provide.
The argument that Mr. Limbaugh tried to make, that women need contraceptives because they are having too much sex, is a dumb one. The amount of sex a woman has doesn’t impact the amount of contraceptive a woman needs. If Mr. Limbaugh cared enough to really understand the issue being discussed he probably would have known that fact. Instead, he speaks on this matter out of utter ignorance and a total disregard for truth combined with a single laser beam like focus on being vulgar, boorish, and rude. And now that he apologized, I hope Ms. Fluke sues the hell out of him for his defamation of her character and his persistence with slandering her on his nationally syndicated radio show over a three day period.
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