Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh experienced a wave of backlash that continued through the weekend after making several inflamatory remarks about a Georgetown University law student last week. Limbaugh apologized Saturday, saying his choice of words was not the best, but has continued to received a torrent of criticism.
In his attack against Sandra Fluke, who was not allowed to testify at a hearing on insurance coverage for contraception, Jamila Bey of She the People said Limbaugh “shared his ideas about what should happen to women who dare disagree with him on women’s health.
He said, “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 for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.”
He also called Fluke a “slut” and a prostitute after she argued that birth control should be covered by health insurance at religious institutions.”
Bey called the incident a textbook example of an attack on a woman for being female and for speaking up:
“What Limbaugh did — and does frequently — is “slut-shaming,” and it’s no less hateful and derogatory than racial slurs.
Any woman who dares admit that she is anything other than a virginal “Madonna” is rebuked and intimidated into silence and shame. And this tactic is profoundly dangerous in this context of helping to insure women’s health.
“She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception,” Limbaugh said of Fluke.
Let us ignore for the moment that Fluke was testifying about a friend who is too afraid to come out publicly and announce her need for birth control for a medical reason, and so spends $1,000 a year on medicines that are free or nearly so on insurance plans that don’t adhere to Catholic doctrine.”
Columnist Kathleen Parker says Limbaugh effectively diverted the conversation from the questions of whether the government can force religious organization to pay for something that violates their doctrines to one of birth control:
The point is that Limbaugh has so offended with his remarks that he has further muddled the issues. I realize he’s “just an entertainer,” as his apologists insist, but he is also considered a leading and powerful conservative voice. His remarks have marginalized legitimate arguments and provided a trove of ammunition to those seeking to demonize Republicans who, along with at least some of their Democratic colleagues, are legitimately concerned with religious liberty.
Reporter Paul Farhi equates the fire storm with the one that overtook Don Imus in 2007:
“In all, the controversy surrounding Limbaugh is beginning to look like the one that engulfed Imus.
The one-time shock jock’s radio career has never fully recovered after he referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” on his syndicated morning program in 2007. The comment ignited a firestorm of complaints and protests, which Imus initially dismissed. When advertisers scattered in the face of the public reaction, Imus offered a more sweeping apology but was subsequently fired by CBS Radio and MSNBC, which had also broadcast his program.”
And to prevent history from repeating itself, radio consultant Holland Cooke told Farhi that Limbaugh should take a cue from liberal talk-show host Ed schultz:
“Last May, Schultz, who has a program on MSNBC and a daily syndicated radio show, called conservative talker Laura Ingraham “a right-wing slut” and “a talk slut” during a radio broadcast. The remark generated a public outcry, prompting MSNBC to suspend Schultz.
Before serving his suspension, Schultz went on the cable network and issued an unqualified apology to Ingraham. Calling his remarks “inappropriate” and “terribly vile,” he said, “I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness. . . . I have embarrassed my family, I have embarrassed this company. This is the lowest of low for me.”
Ingraham responded by accepting the apology — at which point the matter died.”