Don’t object to Limbaugh’s language. Object to his message.
A few months back, when Rush Limbaugh was busy trying to defend Herman Cain by making slurping noises as he referred to one of Cain’s accusers, I called Limbaugh a “reliable misogynist.” Nine national advertisers have already bailed on Limbaugh’s program since his sexist, personal attack last week on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified before a Democratic panel about the need for contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans. Calling her a slut and saying that she should post sex videos on the web as recompense for this health coverage, Limbaugh spent time on his national program three days in a row to double down on his tacky, wrong-headed contentions.
Rush made a big enough ass of himself that some companies are deciding that is not a forum in which they want to position their products or services. Limbaugh’s lame, non-apology on his website over the weekend doesn’t seem to be doing much to stem the rush to the exits. It shouldn’t, because it’s just the latest serving in a regular menu of sexist trash on his program.
As his company was leaving the Limbaugh show, Carbonite CEO David Friend said, “We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”
Me too, but I wouldn’t bet much on it. Of course, Limbaugh listens to money and so he couldn’t stonewall the obvious problem.
“In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke,” Limbaugh said on his website. But it wasn’t an analogy. He absolutely made a sexist, personal attack on Ms. Fluke. That is all that it was.
And that is what happens when you are dealing with reliable misogynists.
Happily, there were some conservative voices that called Limbaugh on his outrageous remarks. They included George Will, John McCain and Ron Paul. McCain correctly characterized Limbaugh’s remarks as “totally unacceptable” and something that should be “condemned by everyone.” That means something because criticism from the left is to be expected for a person like Limbaugh and it therefore carries less weight. Right-wingers seem to regularly need to kiss the Rush ring, (speaking of positioning.)
Then came the lame attempts to try to divert the focus on Limbaugh’s indefensible remarks by others, such as the American Spectator’s “Rally for Rush.” And since I like to keep things local when I can, there was this spin from our friendly purveyors of toxic talk at 550 Radio, who provide the podium for Rush Limbaugh’s sexist diatribes here in central Wisconsin:
“First, I object to the foul language. “Slut” isn’t used in polite company. I’d prefer not to hear it on the radio. And I’d prefer that attacks be less personal, and more about ideas,” says News Director Chris Conley in his blog on the subject. “What else do I object to? Nothing.”
Nothing? Really, Chris?
Well, I object to much more than that. It’s the same reason I object to a lot of other terms that can be used to describe people with whom a person might disagree or who are different. Most people seem to get it when it’s a racist term. You don’t get to say “nigger” and then brush it off as “choosing the wrong word” in a non-analogy, do you? Do you think Rush would even be on the air if he had made 56 racist references like that in three days? Would he have even been there on the second day? It isn’t just about the word. It is about the hideous concept that it attempts to convey.
But for some reason, we’re supposed just get past repeated, grossly sexist terms and outrageous insults toward women and then move along to talk about some non-personal core issue that supposedly formed the legitimate basis for a thoughtful discussion before we all got sidetracked. I have news for you and it is that some of us are not willing to do that. You give up your seat at our table if sexism is one of your core values.
The discussion about Rush Limbaugh right now is not about contraceptive coverage. It’s not about freedom of speech. It’s about him being a reliable misogynist AGAIN. It should also be about having enablers like 550 Radio to keep his sexist bullying alive by blasting that garbage across the airwaves every day for hours.
USA Today reported that KPUA, an AM station in Hilo, Hawaii, said it is dropping Limbaugh’s show immediately. The statement by station owner New West said the Limbaugh incident “crossed a line of decency” and didn’t live up to the station’s standards. (Happily for Rush, that sticky situation with ‘living up to station standards’ doesn’t seem likely to come up as a problem at WSAU.)
And for those local advertisers that are part of the team in this dubious effort, perhaps it would be wise to take a lesson from some national advertisers who spend millions of dollars to carefully position their brands. Some are now seeing fit to abandon Limbaugh’s daily rants in favor of venues that are more reflective of higher corporate and human values. That’s not a bad idea.
Limbaugh’s advertisers continue exodus in the wake of Sandra Fluke comments:
Caroline Heldman takes a walk down Memory Lane with Limbaugh’s decades-long war on women:
March 12 – Limbaugh syndicator suspends national ads for two weeks:
March 20 – Fleeing advertisers doom Rush Limbaugh’s business model:
A compilation of Rush Limbaugh’s smears on Sandra Fluke shows it wasn’t simply a case of ‘choosing the wrong words for an analogy: