Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Despicable People: Rush Limbaugh

I haven't written in awhile, but some things have happened recently that have motivated me to post.

Some time ago, I helped the campaign to get rid of Michael Savage's sponsors because of what he said about autism. I listened to his show to find out who they were, then I posted them here and wrote to them individually about the horrible comments he made about autistic children and their parents, while almost in the same breath accusing parents of asthma sufferers of encouraging their children to fake it to get government funding. That campaign was somewhat effective; many radio stations dropped Savage's show, and many advertisers--some of whom were unaware that their brands were being represented during such an intolerant blowhard's program--insisted that their ads be pulled.

Fast forward to Rush Limbaugh's recent comments regarding Sandra Fluke, whom he couldn't even bother to name correctly. This young woman testified before Congress about how birth control helps with women's health issues, such as preventing ovarian cysts, but Rush, in his willful, obnoxious ignorance, demonized Ms. Fluke by saying she was having so much sex that she couldn't afford the birth control. His diarrhea of the mouth continued by calling her a slut because "we are paying for her sex" (even though the birth control would be funded by private insurance, not tax money), that she was a slut, and that she should post videos of her sexual encounters on the Internet for all of us to see. What a disgusting individual.

Limbaugh has been no stranger to disparaging women. Any women whose politics disagree with his are labeled "Feminazis". There's more, but quite frankly, I have avoided listening to his show since he was on television. Back then, I remember him calling Chelsea Clinton "the White House dog". The girl was twelve. Come on, man.

In any case, I thought about doing the same with Limbaugh as I did with Savage, but a great many people were on it before I decided to listen to his nonsense to find out who advertises on his show. I'm glad--I can't stand listening to the idiot. It's bad enough that I would go to sites as a consultant and be forced to hear his lies, bigotry, and misogyny as I worked, but to voluntarily do it... In any case, he has lost 104 advertisers, and most of his ad slots are filled with public service announcements for the time being. I truly hope this was his career-ender.

I need to take note of an objection people are making now, which was also made when I supported getting Michael Savage's advertisers to drop him: people made it about free speech, and accused me of being against freedom of speech for my condemnation and subsequent campaign on this blog. Bill Maher even went so far as to voice his objection to people "being made to disappear" when they say something offensive. I can understand why Bill would have this objection, and I agree with him on most points, but on this point, he's dead wrong. Sorry, but this issue isn't about freedom of speech. Nobody has the inherent right to be paid for speech. Everyone has the right to not have their speech inhibited by law. No one is advocating for a law getting rid of Rush Limbaugh or keeping him off the air. However, people are exercising their freedom of speech to condemn the man and persuade his corporate sponsors to drop him like a bad habit. What, are his sponsors to be forced to continue to associate their brands with his intolerance? What does it say about a company that supports this pig with their advertising dollars when they employ women who most likely use birth control themselves? Whose insurance plans include it, not to advocate their promiscuity, but to help them prevent problems like overly heavy menstruation, ovarian cysts, and other gynecological problems? And yes, birth control also prevents pregnancy; married couples ought to be able to be intimate without worrying about having more children than they want. Single women ought to be able to have sex without worrying about unintended pregnancy, as well. Without going into the sexual pressures and inequality women face in a world where men who are promiscuous are considered studs, rather than man-whores, the pregnancy and the other health issues birth control prevents actually save companies money while helping women.

To be completely fair to Bill Maher, the argument must be made that corporate sponsorship shouldn't mean that people should have to watch everything they say. So often, corporate sponsors will refuse to support a controversial or cutting edge program because they don't want their brands associated with the views expressed on them. However, television and radio entertainment are businesses, and as such, the money they receive is on the whim of those who pay. It's just reality, no matter how much it sucks in some cases. Many advertisers will support controversial shows because they get ratings--but as Maher himself said, let's not be so tolerant that we tolerate intolerance; advertisers especially shouldn't tolerate--and with their their financial influence, subsidize and perpetuate--intolerance. Limbaugh is a glaring example of it, and I, for one, am glad that many advertisers will no longer subsidize his hate speech.


KP said...

What's the difference between Bill Maher's audience and Rush Limbaugh's?

People who listen to Bill k-n-o-w he's an ass-hole.

I'm just sayin'.

Greg Reich said...

So true, KP, so true...and they love him for it! :-P