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Friday, March 09, 2012

Here's the difference
Posted by Jill | 8:18 PM
There's been much hue and cry over the last week about hateful sexist speech. "The left does it too!", the Rush Limbaugh apologists have cried, citing this comment by Ed Schultz last year:
“President Obama is going to be visiting Joplin, Mo., on Sunday but you know what they’re talking about, like this right-wing slut, what’s her name?, Laura Ingraham?” he said on his radio show. “Yeah, she’s a talk slut. You see, she was, back in the day, praising President Reagan when he was drinking a beer overseas. But now that Obama’s doing it, they’re working him over.”

Ed Schultz was suspended for a week, apologized to Laura Ingraham, and the incident was over. But read what he said. Yes, the word "slut" is loaded, but Schultz wasn't saying that Laura Ingraham fucks anything that moves; he was using the word to describe someone who's very selective in her outrage. It was a stupid word to use because it was inflammatory, but also because in this context it doesn't even make much sense.

Bill Maher has taken his share this week too. Now I often take issue with Bill Maher's views on women as they pertain to his personal life and his old hoary (sorry) Borscht-belt views on marriage. I don't understand how any woman can want to fuck Bill Maher after hearing some of the things he says. Here is what he said about Sarah Palin a year ago:

“Did you hear this – Sarah Palin finally heard what happened in Japan and she’s demanding that we invade ‘Tsunami,’” Maher said. “I mean she said, ‘These ‘Tsunamians’ will not get away with this.’ Oh speaking of dumb twats, did you –”

The expressions "dumb twat" and "dumb c*nt" are far more offensive than what Ed Schultz said, in their implication that women are nothing more than vaginas, especially the dumb ones. I hate the expression, but Bill Maher was not saying anything about Sarah Palin's sex life.

And that's the difference between these two men's offensive offhand remarks and those Rush Limbaugh made last week: Schultz and Maher used ugly colloquialisms to illustrate points about these women's political methodology. And if Limbaugh had done only that, I too would have put him into the same category and said "Consider the source." But when he started doubling down and making remarks about Sandra Fluke having "so much sex" that she needs someone else to pay for her birth control, and demanding sex tapes be posted online, well, if you can't see the difference then you aren't paying attention.

But there's another important thing to point out here. Yes, Democratic politicians appear on Ed Schultz' show and on Real Time. But not one Democratic politician has ever had to apologize to Ed Schultz for anything, nor has any Democratic politician had to apologize to Bill Maher. Both are on cable TV, not the public airwaves (and AM radio IS public airwaves, something most people have forgotten), but more importantly, neither one of them is a macher in the Democratic Party.

Rush Limbaugh, however, DOES wield a great deal of power in the Republican Party, as even a hack like George Will pointed out last Sunday:
“[House Speaker John] Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff,” Will said. “And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”

Michael Wolff wrote in 2009 about the hold Limbaugh has on the party:
In a jaunty and rapid-fire manner, he’d dealt with Republican congressman Phil Gingrey, who had mildly suggested—to a reporter’s question about Limbaugh’s derogatory comments about the Republican leadership—that there were able gentlemen running the party. After a torrential news cycle, Gingrey offered Rush an abject apology, which had the added sweetener (a little carrot and stick) of getting him an appearance—to reiterate his apology—on Rush’s show. Then Limbaugh laid into Republicans who had expressed reservations about Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s response—lame by every estimation—to the president’s speech on February 24 before a joint session of Congress. No matter how lame, Jindal still hewed to the orthodox conservative small-government views; hence, according to Rush, Jindal was “brilliant. He’s the real deal.” And if anybody said otherwise, well, they’d have to deal with Rush. Then, the day after Limbaugh addressed the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (cpac), Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele gamely tried on CNN to face down D. L. Hughley’s assertion that Rush was the effective party leader. “Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment,” Steele sputtered, only to find himself apologizing shortly thereafter when Rush had mauled him on the air. (The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put up a Web site—I’m Sorry, Rush—offering an automated form through which congressional Republicans could apologize to Limbaugh. Indeed, as I was writing this piece, a half-dozen Republican officials and operatives first committed to talk with me about Limbaugh and his effects on the party, and then, in a process of hand-wringing and revising their views, each decided, on better thought, not to risk even the smallest chance of waking up on the wrong side of Rush.)

Believe me, Nancy Pelosi doesn't give a shit what Ed Schultz says OR what Bill Maher says, and if she got up in front of the House and decried the use of words like "slut" and "twat" on cable television, she would not have to apologize for doing so. But let a Republican say anything against Rush Limbaugh, and he's in serious trouble.

But there's a larger difference too. Schultz and Maher and Keith Olbermann may have issues with women; I think it's pretty clear that Maher and Olbermann do. But their remarks don't have real-world consequences. When Rush Limbaugh rants for days on end (and he is still ranting about women) about sexually active women being whores who deserve only to have videos of them having sex plastered all over the internet for the prurient interest of pathetic, flaccid-dicked asshats like Limbaugh, he helps foster a culture in which sexually active women are worthy only of contempt.

And that leads to things like this:
The sweeping anti-abortion bill working its way through the Kansas Legislature would levy a sales tax on women seeking abortions, including rape victims.

Buried in the 69-page bill being considered by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee are several provisions, in fact, that opponents say would increase taxes on those who seek abortions. The tax sections do not include exemptions for women who want an abortion after a sexual assault or to end a life-threatening pregnancy.


Among other provisions in the proposed legislation are measures allowing doctors to withhold from patients medical information that might encourage them to seek an abortion and prohibiting malpractice suits if the woman or the child suffers a health complication as a result of information being withheld. A wrongful death lawsuit could be filed if the mother dies. The bill also would require doctors to tell women that abortion causes breast cancer and would prohibit state employees from performing abortions on the job.

Got that? Those small-government, low-tax Kansas Republicans want to impose a tax on women who are raped. And they are also planning to mandate that physicials LIE TO THEIR PATIENTS. Science? Medical evidence? Fugeddaboutit. Doctors in Kansas will take their marching orders from religious zealots.

There's a direct line from slut-shaming to state-mandated penetration, rape taxes, forced viewing of ultrasounds, and state-mandated physician falsehoods. When Rush Limbaugh rants day after day after day that women who use contraception are whores whores whores whores whores, it eats its way into the brains of those men who see that their particular brand of white Christian male patriarchal dominance is dying -- and they will demand punishment for those who are responsible for it. That's why we see hate rhetoric about gays from these men and now we see hate rhetoric about women from them. They're losing control, and they're not going to give it up without causing heavy casualties on the other side.

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