I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I may disagree with it; I may try to refute it; sometimes I even may be angry because of it; but at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their beliefs. Take, for example, Rick Santorum’s statement that “the radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family [by] convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.” That statement infuriates me. I could go into the reasons why, but that is not the point of this blog post. As much as I vehemently disagree with Santorum’s statement, I accept that he may say it. Diverging opinions promote healthy debate within a society, that ultimately leads to a more informed and vibrant electorate.
Never-the-less, I have a big issue when someone’s statement goes beyond an expression opinion and directly insults or I should I say assault someone.
Unfortunately, we saw a blatant example of this just this Wednesday regarding President Obama’s policy requiring health insurance covering contraceptives for women regardless of an employer’s religious beliefs. Law student Sandra Fluke supported the policy in an informal testimony on Capital Hill and pointed out that students at Georgetown university pay as much as $1,000 a year for contraceptives that are not covered by the Jesuit University’s student health plans. In response, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh went on the air and slandered her.
I am not disputing Limbaugh’s right to disagree with the policy. However, what he said on the air was not only inappropriate but obnoxious.
In response to her statement about the cost of contraceptives not covered by health plans, he said “What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute” and added later, “She wants to be paid to have sex… She’s having so much sex she can’t afford contraception.”
I understand that Limbaugh is a talk show host, and talk show hosts frequently embellish on issues. That’s why people listen to them. It can even be admirable to listen to talk-show hosts that pull no punches. But in this case, even for a radio host, he crossed a line.
Setting aside his blatant disregard for the actual issues of this policy debate (including health concerns like the prevention of AIDS), what is most troubling is his choice of words. The use of the words ‘slut’ and ‘prostitute’ is demeaning, unethical and reprehensible. No woman deserves to be called these names on the air, and Sandra Fluke certainly did not deserve to be attacked this way for voicing her opinion. There is no excuse for him calling her names. None. As a talk show host, he has a responsibility to refrain himself from personal attack and insult, and should be harshly condemned for his blatant disrespect for another human being that was only voicing her own opinion. These obscene and egregious attacks are a blatant abuse of his access to the public airwaves.
To make matters worse, on Thursday, in lieu of apologizing, Limbaugh came back for a second attack, reinforcing what he had said before. He ended his tirade by stating that if women want “us” to pay for their contraceptives, they should post pornographic videos of themselves: “So Miss 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. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
Update as of 3/4/2012: After advertisers began to pull their ads from his show, Rush Limbaugh issues a statement apologizing for his choice of words. As of now, many groups feel the apology is inadequate and at least one advertiser still refuses to sponsor the show. To read more, check out the articles below: