By Bob Cesca: Finally, there appears to be significant action backing up the outrage surrounding Rush Limbaugh’s attacks against Sandra Fluke. As of this writing, seven advertisers have dropped the Limbaugh show and there will likely be more to follow.
But many of the rebukes coming from various sources, political and otherwise, have only referenced his use of the word “slut,” and this tends to make the issue seem smaller than it is — like a gaffe or poor choice of words. Consequently, Limbaugh’s apology centered around his word usage rather than the intent, the multi-day assault or his total ignorance about how the president’s contraception law actually works.
By way of a reminder, Limbaugh dedicated at least three shows to attacking a noncombatant — an ordinary citizen who isn’t a pundit or politician and who isn’t involved in the national political discourse what-so-ever. This makes his unrelenting assault even more egregious. Fluke is a law student and simply met with congressional Democrats in an informal hearing. During this hearing, she merely discussed her friend’s ovarian cysts, and how the cost of birth control forced this friend to lose an ovary. Rather than attacking the president’s policy or various Democrats or liberal supporters in the media (new and old), Limbaugh attacked Fluke. Like any cowardly schoolyard bully.
It was a dick move, and one that’s often pursued by fellow cowards and bullies on the right. Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck have each repeatedly engaged in these sorts of attacks against noncombatants, be they children, high school administrators, small town yokels and even the president’s adolescent children. Easy targets because they’re unfamiliar with rhetorical tactics, none have media platforms in which to respond and, most of the time, it’s impossible to overcome the massive brute force of Fox News Channel (the number one cable news network in America) and AM talk radio hosts with anywhere from 10 to 20 million weekly listeners.
So it wasn’t so much the “slut” remark, but the relatively defenseless target of the word itself.
Comparatively, Ed Schultz used that word to describe talk radio host Laura Ingraham and it was just as stupid and insensitive, but at least Ingraham had years of media savvy and a powerful stage on which to counterattack. Sandra Fluke and others don’t.
And, again, it wasn’t just that word. Last week alone, nine hours of Limbaugh broadcast time was dedicated to smearing and belittling this woman. During that time, Limbaugh also demanded to see pornographic videos of Fluke and others in exchange for — and this is yet another point to be made presently — paying for their birth control.
This brings up the next point. Limbaugh and others on the right are totally clueless about the law. They aren’t “paying” for anyone to receive anything. It sounds like Limbaugh believes that birth control pills and devices will be financed by taxpayers, which is totally false. The rule mandates that health insurance companies cover the treatment, just like any other treatment. Not the government. Employees and employers are sharing the cost of the premiums and perhaps a small fraction of those payments might pay for birth control — if it’s needed in the first place and not every woman needs it. But the way the right is talking about this makes it seem as if President Obama is forcing you at gunpoint to personally buy IUDs for every woman in sight. And that’s a lie. So either Limbaugh is stupid or he’s deliberately misleading his easily-tricked disciples. For what it’s worth, I tend to believe the latter.
If you recall, Limbaugh was famously nabbed at an airport for carrying a bottle of Viagra not prescribed to him, but, instead, prescribed in his doctor’s name. Fine. There are many legitimate medical and psychological reasons for men to use Viagra and there’s nothing shameful about receiving treatment for erectile dysfunction. However, as with any conservative sex scandal, it’s the hypocrisy. Limbaugh was on a vacation to the Dominican Republic with a group of male companions. Why would he need Viagra on such a trip without any women in sight? I’ll address that later, but the main reason I mention this incident is to suggest that perhaps Limbaugh is ignorant enough to believe that birth control pills work like Viagra — you pop one every time you plan to have sex, thus his mistaken remarks about “paying for Fluke to have sex.” It’s not a pay-per-sex proposition since most birth control is taken on a daily basis irrespective of sexual activity, and various birth control devices are implanted inside the body, occasionally replaced per the devices’ instructions.
It doesn’t even really matter in this case because Fluke wasn’t even talking about her own sex life — or sex in any context. But that doesn’t matter when you’re trying to fool your listeners into believing that someone who disagrees with you is a “slut.”
In the broadest sense, this birth control issue is about male domination and oppression of women. Pure and simple. It’s as old as evolution itself. And it’s also about Limbaugh’s considerably lengthy record of attacking anyone who he perceives to be weaker targets. The current advertiser boycott and the outrage surrounding the Fluke controversy should take into consideration the roster of previous Limbaugh victims as well (examples here). While Limbaugh might think twice before he again uses the word “slut,” it’s likely he’ll come up with other synonyms and the show will go on. Unless he’s stopped now.
By the way, you know what a slut is? A guy who takes erection pills to the Dominican Republic without any female companions. We can only assume the purpose was to engage in anonymous sex with one or more partners — he didn’t bring one or two, but an entire bottle indicating he planned to have sex multiple times. That’s a slut.
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