The Groan-Worthy Response To Rush Limbaugh's Idiocy

So, since his apology on Saturday, the firestorm surrounding Rush Limbaugh's inappropriate and offensive comments is finally starting to wane. Good.

But, in case you live under a rock and missed the whole ordeal -- here is the quote-in-question:
“What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her?” Limbaugh said on his radio show on Wednesday. “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”

The conservative radio host continued on to joke, “OK, so she’s not a slut. She’s ‘round heeled.’”

I call the comments 'inappropriate and offensive' because that is exactly what they are. Many have come to Limbaugh's defense by saying that 'he is an entertainer' and that 'he gets paid to be over-the-top in his rhetoric'.

While these arguments may be true to an extent -- after all he is an entertainer and does indeed say over-the-top things -- I'm going to call bullshit.

I don't care who you are; when your political argument devolves into a deeply personal attack on someone, you have crossed the line. And that is precisely what happened here; Limbaugh took a perfectly fine ideological standpoint -- opposing federal regulations requiring employers to provide contraceptive health care coverage for women -- and turned it into an extremely ugly, personal attack on a law student from Georgetown University.

That said, Limbaugh (eventually) did the right thing and apologized:
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? 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?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.

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.
Okay, a couple of thoughts here...

Number One: Please do not misunderstand my post. I am not saying that Rush Limbaugh should be silenced. He is free to say whatever he would like -- and I will fight to protect that freedom. Our Constitution guarantees the right for people to speak in any manner they choose, however offensive or unpopular (see: Westboro Baptists). Rush Limbaugh can, and will say what is on his mind.

Number Two: Having said Number One, the only people who may silence Limbaugh (or at the very least curtail future speech like this) are people/companies who advertise on his show. At last count, seven eleven advertisers have pulled out of Limbaugh's radio program. That's capitalism at work folks -- and it appears to be working well.

Bottom line: What Rush Limbaugh said was at minimum stupid and at most offensive and reprehensible. But, as long as listeners keep tuning in to hear him make these types of comments, he'll have a show.

If you don't like what he says -- an judging by the reaction this whole ordeal has created, not too many folks do -- turn the dial.

Setting aside the actual comments that Limbaugh made, Number Three is another layer to this whole story that has been nagging at me: the idea that Limbaugh speaks for other people as well.

Over the weekend I was flipping through my DirecTV guide and landed upon a segment on CNN where two pundits were debating this issue. The anti-Rush talking head was saying that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and virtually all Republicans needed to disavow Limbaugh's comments. But why?

Why would it be assumed that Rush Limbaugh speaks for all Republicans -- so much so that said Republicans need to take action to show that they do not support Limbaugh's rhetoric? My dad is a Republican -- but he loathes Rush Limbaugh. "He's an idiot." says my pop. Understand that while Rush Limbaugh identifies himself as a conservative Republican, he does not speak for all Republicans.

By the same token, why would the President (a Democrat) need to respond to and/or denounce some looney comment that Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, or some other liberal says on teevee or radio? Unless the words come out of the President's mouth -- or one of his staffers -- he is not responsible.

No, this is stupid. If there is a legitimate connection to an issue, then I have no problem with someone asking Rick Santorum or the other GOP candidates to give their thoughts on Limbaugh's commentary -- and in this case the issue would be federally mandated contraceptive health care. But, to say that 'all Republicans need to pre-emptively denounce Rush Limbaugh's comments' is simply ludicrous. Rush Limbaugh speaks for, well, Rush Limbaugh. Nobody else is responsible for what he says.

UPDATE: I'm reminded that, while I may not like Ed Schultz, THIS is what an apology should look/sound like.

[cartoon: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune]