American Outrage at Rush — A Warning to the Powerful

Nearly two weeks after Rush Limbaugh ignited a public firestorm by bullying Sandra Fluke over national airwaves for three days running, calls to advertisers and radio syndicates to have Rush taken off the air have only grown louder. Many in the mainstream media seemed taken aback by such a strong public response, shocked that so powerful a figure could be shaken to his very foundations by public outrage. Some, including Bill Maher who has born the brunt of republican attacks for his own off-color jokes targeting some women, have even defended Rush.

What the media seems to be missing is context, the deeply abusive nature of Rush Limbaugh’s public bullying, and the dreadful harm the slut shaming of a defenseless law student inflicts on us all. Nor does the media seem to fully realize how what Rush says and does is directly linked to the political activities of republicans in Congress and the ongoing conservative war on women’s health and reproductive freedoms.

Scared of Rush

As recently as two weeks ago, republican leader John Boehner admitted at a Congressional press conference that republicans, members of the most powerful government in the world, were scared of Rush Limbaugh — a powerful political radio pundit who sometimes hides behind the title ‘entertainer.’ The big man, issued an honorary position in Congress in the 1990s, wields vast political power through his 15 million radio viewers and his incessant calls for political action. He has been at the forefront of many republican political campaigns over the breadth of his reign as EIB pundit and, at every turn, he has challenged liberal power-brokers. In many ways, Rush is the hand that wields conservative power in Washington and this is done through the scope of his far-reaching radio show.

Gagging Sandra Fluke

Then came Sandra Fluke, the woman who was supposed to testify.

Back in late February, the republicans had doubled down on their war on women’s reproductive freedoms. As recently as mid-month, they had waged a disastrous campaign to defund Planned Parenthood. Republican attacks were spear-headed by the Susan G. Komen Foundation which had become a political arm of the republican attack through the actions of its right-wing CEO.

But this action back-fired. Massive internet and media campaigns were waged against Komen for their denial of Planned Parenthood funding. The result was that Komen lost many of its major donors and top execs at the foundation threatened to resign unless the policy was changed.

Failing this avenue of attack, republicans opened a new front, attempting to legislatively deny health care coverage for women’s contraception and reproductive services. In a political insult that is likely to resonate for decades to come, House Republicans called an all-male committee before a Congressional panel to discuss the reasons for rolling back women’s reproductive freedoms. Democrats attempted to call their own witness — Sandra Fluke. But, citing an arbitrary rule, republicans refused to allow her to speak.

This all male panel was a stark and blatant symbol of who was making these critical decisions about women’s reproductive freedoms — old white men. But added to this insult was the fact that even a single female voice was denied testimony. So, for days, Sandra Fluke was the woman who wasn’t allowed to speak.

Speech Draws Bullying

But women and liberals in Congress would not be completely silenced. A few days after the all-male panel testified, Sandra Fluke was called to speak in Congress by democrats who believed it was wrong to only hear one point of view. Ms. Fluke testified eloquently, passionately and openly — describing how valuable contraction and reproductive services were to women of her age. She provided a poignant personal narrative that drew a sharp contrast between the political posturing on the right and the real lives of ever-day Americans. And she made a strong intellectual and compassionate argument for continuing women’s freedoms and not to return to a narrow age of institutional bigotry.

Almost immediately, her testimony drew attacks from the right. They accused her of lying. They attacked her character. And they began to openly call her a slut for wanting access to contraception.

Rush Leads the Attack

Among the most loud in this slut-shaming was Rush Limbaugh. For three days straight, Rush used his massive radio infrastructure as a platform from which to attack Sandra Fluke. He repeatedly called her a slut, a whore, and a prostitute. He baldly stated that she must want contraception because she was having so much sex. He demanded that Sandra post sex videos on the internet in exchange for access to contraception.

Not only was Rush engaging in a most ugly form of character assassination against Sandra Fluke. He was also exploiting the notion of her femininity, rabidly engaging in the most lewd and obscene of sexual fantasies on the airwaves. His show made her the object of a vicious political pornography.

But the most egregious element of this assault was due to the nature of Sandra Fluke herself. She was not a political figure — a persona with the power or platform from which to defend herself from Rush’s abuse and character assassination. She had no individual power to repel or even respond to this level of media assault. She was one of the rest of us, thrust into her obligatory 15 minutes of fame on a slide lined with right-wing razors. And they were tearing her apart.

Women and People Who Love Women Rise Up

Witnessing this terrible abuse, the modern equivalent of an unjust public torture and execution, many people were no longer able to remain silent. For years, bearing the assaults of Rush and other right-wing ideologues, women, feminists, and their supporters rose up. A call for a Rush advertiser boycott rang out, was picked up, and went viral. Thousands of bloggers, hundreds of thousands of social networkers, the Occupy movement, and many, many more all began independent campaigns targeting Rush’s radio advertisers.

And their message was this: you can attack the powerful, those who are strong enough to defend themselves. But if you attack one of us, one of the meek, one of the powerless, one of those who deserve our care, our love, our compassion, then we will rise up. If you do this, we will do everything we can to remove you from power and responsibility. If you cannot exercise your power with decency and kindness, then you will suffer revolt and loss of power.

They say the meek shall inherit… Then do no harm to the meek…

http://www.change.org/petitions/advertisers-take-rush-limbaugh-off-the-air-for-bigotry-against-sandra-fluke-women

 

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Advertisers Flying From Rush Misogyny

Just two weeks after Rush slut shamed Sandra Fluke and continued attacks on women across the political and media spectrum, more than 141 advertisers have dropped his program. Furthermore, all national advertising has been suspended from Rush Limbaugh’s program for two weeks.

http://thinkprogress.org/media/2012/03/12/442673/141-companies-advertisng-rush-limbaugh/

http://thinkprogress.org/media/2012/03/12/443195/breaking-rush-limbaugh-syndicator-suspends-national-ads-for-two-weeks/

Rush’s misogynist attacks led to numerous calls for advertisers to drop his show with many angry callers threatening boycotts. Much of the backlash began on the internet and then went mainstream as petitions popped up like March daffodils. If you want to join them, here’s a link to one:

http://www.change.org/petitions/advertisers-take-rush-limbaugh-off-the-air-for-bigotry-against-sandra-fluke-women

Calls from angry listeners and offended persons alike resulted in the mass exodus which Rush compared to losing a few french fries at the drive through. But, at this point, looks like there’s only a few ‘fries’ left in the bag. Seems advertisers don’t like being compared to junky fast food.

Meanwhile, the Premiere Radio Networks, which provides national syndication for Rush’s show has announced that it is suspending national advertisements for two weeks. Rush’s loss of national affiliates suggests that his sexist comments have done severe damage to the program. Lifelock and Lear Financial, among the few companies still standing by Rush, have been asked to take up the slack for loss of national advertising spots.

It seems an irony that the kind of political free speech and free market choice that Rush claims to champion is resulting in his being removed from the air. This is the result of Rush Limbaugh’s nastiness toward women everywhere — advertisers and listeners walk. No government censorship required.

 

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The Importance of Women and Why We Should Cherish Their Freedom

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. But you couldn’t tell by the rabid war being waged by a wretched cadre in our political and media systems. All over the country, legislation curtailing women’s reproductive freedoms is currently being pushed by republicans in state and national congresses.

In Georgia, female representatives walked out in protest over the latest insult to women’s freedom passed by republican majorities. Overall, more than 430 bills have been submitted that limit access to contraception and reproductive services this year alone. These arrows of oppression are launching at a higher rate than even last year which saw a total of more than 1100 bills assaulting women’s health. The most egregious bills include mandatory invasive ultrasounds, now the law of the land in Texas. But some are simply quibbling, insulting, and demeaning examples of men attempting to exercise power over women’s sexuality.

The attacks are being driven by an extreme religious institution that has dominated the republican party and the nation’s airwaves. These religious and media attacks have, at their root, an ancient and black tradition of misogyny. For a brief time during the twentieth century, this anti-woman, dominionist world-view was rolled back in favor of liberation. But now anti-enlightenment forces have gained ground and are using their power to roll back the clock on women’s freedoms. The battle we find raging in our systems of power, though not new, is very destructive to our civilization, to our marriages, to our opportunities as individuals and as couples, and to the ability of the poor to climb up out of poverty.

Harm to women’s freedoms is harm to us all. Indeed, our society’s civility can be judged by how we treat the most defenseless among us. And women, who are physically less powerful than men, and are seen as kinder, gentler, are a favored victim of bullies and of institutional bullying.

But there are more practical issues involving women’s reproductive freedoms that impact us all. And we should all, men and women both, think long and hard before we allow them to be removed.

Contraception Prevents Poverty

In the past, women who were poor were often also shackled with unwanted pregnancies. Women already suffering from poverty and finding themselves needing to care for a child or two, or three, or four often had only one option — marrying a man who could provide for them. This constraint limited the role of a majority of women to bearing and caring for children. It also reduced the options of couples. A man was almost universally forced to work to help feed his growing brood. And with each new child, the financial options of families became more and more constrained. On the other hand, families who plan their children are enabled to hold two incomes, to reduce the total number of children, and to increase their quality of life over time. All these options reduce instances of poverty.

Contraception and Family Planning Reduces Population Stress

Worldwide, there are now over 7 billion people. According to almost every scientist who studies Earth carrying capacity, this number is higher than what is sustainable. Over the next 20-50 years, the hope for maintaining a livable world rests, in large part, on civilization’s ability to restrain population. This restraint involves reducing the birth rate to bring population back into balance with resources. Most systems researchers show a sustainable civilization is one in the range of 2-4 billion individuals. There is absolutely no chance to reach this number without access to contraception and family planning services.

Though these numbers and notions may seem academic, they have absolute impacts. There are limits to the amount of arable land, materials, fossil fuels, food, fish, and pollution sinks in the world. High population rapidly depletes all of these resources. And since Earth is the only planet we know able to support human life, once these resources are depleted or destroyed, they are gone for good.

So population restraint is about poverty, death, and war restraint. It is about preventing famine. It is about giving the world time to transition to renewable energy. It is about reducing the impact of climate change. It is about increasing access to material resources and opportunities for each individual.

Equality Multiplies the Power of Civilization

Imagine what would have happened to England had Elizabeth never been queen…

Women are intelligent, clever, compassionate, kind, able to navigate social difficulty, able to compromise, and enable systems of cooperation and personal development. They possess unique qualities that provide powerful and intangible benefits to the civilizations that elevate them. Art, knowledge, science, all multiply in societies in which women are sexually liberated. But societies that sexually repress women tend to be more narrow, war-like, and poor.

At risk in the current war on women is the dream of a vital and civil society. Those currently leading the assault on women, the contraception and family planning denying, the slut shaming, the bitch calling, and all the other nastiness, are an existential threat to the true system of liberty and equality that has flowered throughout the development of our nation.

Some have said ‘the American experiment is over.’ And it is those same cynical, narrow souls that are fighting a broad war to end the greatest experiment in liberty and equal opportunity the world has ever known. We should be all be shamed that we have allowed this cancer to grow on our soil. We should be terrified that we have let it mar our beloved. The fair ladies who have helped us so much and have elevated America to such a position of greatness.

The moment we let these freedoms die is the moment we have allowed them to cut out the very heart of America. The very heart of us. Will we allow them? Will we let them continue to advance this darker America? A place of struggle that only creates opportunity for an increasingly narrow and mean-spirited elite? A place where the fairest among us are once again only consigned to the shadows?

 

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Please help support our continuing efforts.

Rush Stops Bullying Sandra Fluke, Issues Meager Apology

After spending more than three straight days bullying Sandra Fluke and losing eight of his advertisers for the attacks, Rush Limbaugh finally issued a meager, quibbling apology today. Here is his ‘apology’s’ intro:

“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.  What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line?”

Rush begins with a self-congratulatory statement as a backward way to remind the listener of his importance. He continues by saying that he made an error of word choice and didn’t intent to harm Sandra. Then, he continues along his original line of argumentation, restating the ideological line of thought that resulted in the personal attack on Sandra in the first place. He then pontificates about accountability. The real apology? We’re still waiting for it…

“If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?”

At this point, Rush descends into babbling and making false comparisons in an attempt, once again, to re-assert his argument. Is this ‘apology’ starting to look like another rant from an ego-maniac to you? You’re not the only one. After listening to all this nonsense, one wonders if Rush even has the capacity to make a full-hearted apology. And so we continue:

“In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.”

At this point, one has to comment on how disingenuous Rush is being here. He lead the attack on President Clinton’s own embarrassing personal/bedroom story. He talked for weeks and weeks about the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Where was his sense of propriety then? But now it suddenly crops up when republicans are waging an all-out war to deny women reproductive freedom. Now we shouldn’t hear about how important those services are to women?

After listening to another monologue, it becomes obvious that Rush isn’t apologizing at all. He is simply using a fake apology as another platform from which to launch political attacks. Obviously, Rush’s statement isn’t worth listening to, since he’s using it in an angling and purely self-serving fashion. But since we started this, we might as well finish:

“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

And at last we come to the ‘apology.’ By itself, it is pretty pathetic and lame. Like the apology of a man who is too egotistical ever to admit he’s wrong and needs such qualifiers as ‘my choice of words’ and ‘attempt to be humorous’ and ‘insulting choice of words.’ All these qualifiers serve only to distance himself from ‘I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke’ and further lessen these paltry six words — offering only a glimmer of contrition in a 150+ word self-congratulatory, political, and quibbling puff piece.

After such a vicious and long-lasting attack, this back-handed apology is hardly worthy of reply much less, acceptance.

http://www.change.org/petitions/advertisers-take-rush-limbaugh-off-the-air-for-bigotry-against-sandra-fluke-women

UPDATE:  Rush is once again escalating his attacks on Sandra Fluke saying her response to his ‘apology’ was ‘uncalled for.’

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/05/rush-limbaugh-apology-sandra-fluke-advertisers_n_1321450.html\

 

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Don’t Let Rush, Bigots Win! Stand Up and Fight For Women!!

As the firestorm over Rush’s slut shaming of Sandra Fluke continues, advertisers are beginning to drop the misogynistic right winger. According to news reports, six advertisers have withdrawn support for Rush’s show. They include: Quicken Loans, Sleep Number Sara, The Sleep Train, The Cleveland Cavaliers, Legal Zoom, and Citrix Systems. If you want to encourage those who are still standing on the sidelines, here is a petition and a list:

http://www.change.org/petitions/advertisers-take-rush-limbaugh-off-the-air-for-bigotry-against-sandra-fluke-women

Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly threw his hat into the misogynist ring with Rush in a new series of attacks on Sandra Fluke. O’Reilly didn’t go as far to slut shame Sandra. But he did use the euphemism ‘social life’ to conflate women’s reproductive health with kids just joshing around. And, of course, O’Reilly returns to the old, worn fallacy, saying that Sandra wants everyone to pay for her play. But O’Reilly’s worst offense, along with the rest of republicans, was his support for Rush’s bigoted attack on Sandra and, by extension, all women.

Republicans’ support for Rush, either through statements or through tacit silence, is nothing less than proof positive they approve of attacks on Sarah together with an ongoing battle to roll back women’s reproductive freedom. But we don’t have to stand for this abuse. We can let our voices be heard and show these republicans that we won’t suffer further attacks. Protection of women and reproductive freedoms is a cornerstone to civil society. Suffering those protections to be withdrawn would be a return to a cold, hard age of barbarism and exploitation.

Please help support our continuing efforts to defend women from vicious, politically motivated attacks.

Please help support our continuing efforts.

Rush Goes Nuclear in Republican War on Women

Around the country and in Congress, Republicans are engaged in an unprecedented battle to restrict women’s freedoms and protection under the law. The Blunt amendment sought to curtail women’s rights and access to birth control, legislation in Virginia sought to force invasive ultra-sounds, legislation in Georgia is attempting to redefine rape victims by calling them ‘accusers,’ and in South Dakota republicans proposed a bill that would make it legal to murder an abortion doctor.

This war on women and women’s rights is as shameful as it is extreme. But perhaps the most shameful occurrence has come in the form of Rush Limbaugh’s own statements made against women generally and Sandra Fluke in particular.

Ever since Sandra Fluke was brave enough to testify before Congress and to share her thoughts on the importance of birth control, she has been subject to a series of vitriolic and inhuman attacks aimed at smearing her integrity, character, and sex. By extension, these attacks are indirectly aimed at all women, the virtue of the sex act, and the integrity of loving relationships between men and women everywhere.

Rush has plainly stated that women who use birth control are ‘sluts.’ This direct attack against women is but the latest use of an age-old slur. It implies that a women who has sex is guilty of some undefined crime and is somehow inferior. But the sex act is as natural to humankind as breathing. None of us would be standing here today without that physical expression of love between our parents. This insidious shaming of someone for doing something so human is not only an attack on women, but on nature itself. It turns something that should be beautiful into an indignity and it casts half of humankind into the shadows. It is at the root of a wretched and heart-breaking ‘original sin’ doctrine that has so divided us one against the other — age after age after age.

But Rush doesn’t stop at invoking the ancient indignity. He goes on to suggest that anyone who provides access to birth control is a ‘pimp.’ In this single statement, he has denigrated the entire health care industry or anyone who has worked to expand the reproductive freedoms of men, women, and families. Continuing with the harlot metaphor, Rush completes his hate-rant by suggesting exploitation. Rush, in his concluding statement today said that, in order to pay for their birth control, women should post sex videos on the internet.

I suppose Rush doesn’t realize the level of harm the porn industry inflicts on women. How ignorant he seems to the many women exploited by this industry and to the numberless films made using the modern version of slaves. Perhaps he encourages this kind of exploitation? His rhetoric, sadly, seems to indicate just that. His suggestion that 99% of America’s women are sluts who should be filmed on the internet to earn their birth control is an awful verbal weapon aimed at those fairest, most compassionate, the gentlest among us.

I suppose Rush, at the apex of his wealth and power, feels invulnerable to the responses of little people like women and those who care for them. But, in my view, this is the height of hubris. It is time, long past, for this bigot, fear and hate monger, this peddler of little lies to be taken down. It is time we stand up and demand his resignation. To demand that he be taken off the air.

His freedom of speech does not extend to a right to a massive platform which he uses daily to impugn and diminish our economic, social, and sexual liberties. It is, indeed, high time we take down this petty radio dictator and his little kingdom of extremist serfs. We should no longer suffer corporate slobs who are paid billions to divide us and to attack the rights of our mothers, lovers, wives, and sisters. No good woman or man should suffer it.

Please join our rebellion against the misogynist Rush by signing the petition to have all his hatred taken off the air. Please tell all your friends, family and anyone you meet. We should no longer suffer ourselves to be threatened by this bully!

http://www.change.org/petitions/us-congress-fcc-radio-sydicates-take-rush-limbaugh-off-the-air-for-bigotry-against-sandra-fluke-women

Please help support our continuing efforts.

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