Monday, March 5, 2012

Reading Rush: Anatomy of an Apology

When attempting to listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio do you find yourself slamming your head into the steering wheel repeatedly until blood is streaming down your face while the other drivers in traffic look on in horror? Well, he's worse when you can actually read a transcript of what he's saying.

I took a quick jab yesterday at why Limbaugh's apology over the weekend to Ms. Fluke is nowhere near good enough, but it really deserves a closer examination, so let's go through it line by line:
For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.
Limbaugh starts by framing his three days of vilifying the woman as absurdist humor.  Except what's the joke?  I'll grant him that demanding that if his tax dollars are going to be spent on contraception then he wants her to send him sex tapes does sound like a crude attempt at humor, but he's in hot water because he called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" for using birth control.  There's no joke there, it's just vulgar name calling.  And it's vulgar name calling that applies to the 99% of women in this country who have used birth control.  Which brings me to the next part:
In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
Now I'm very curious what the "right word choice" would be in an analogy of why all women are whores so as not to offend people.  But put that aside, because the second sentence there really is key.  I honestly believe him when he says he didn't intend it as a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.  Now clearly it was a personal attack, and she probably has a case for slander that I hope she makes, but I don't think Rush Limbaugh meant it that way.  Based on nothing but the knowledge she uses birth control, he called her a "slut."  That couldn't have been personal, he literally knows nothing about her.  Instead that's just his view of all women who use birth control.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.
And here is where we shift into the part of the "apology" where he shifts back into making the same attacks and points he's supposedly sorry about in the first place.  Limbaugh claims he's disgusted that this is even an issue on the national stage, but of course he himself was a big part of making it so, and no one would have even heard of Ms. Fluke if it weren't for Republican Chairman Darrell Issa staging a kangaroo committee on women's health.  So who is to blame here?
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.
This is the largest chunk of his "apology."  It is in fact the size of the rest of the statement combined.  And he spends it comparing women wanting access to birth control to people wanting new shoes.  He does this in the middle of an "apology" to a woman who we've only heard of because she wanted to testify before Congress about how hormonal birth control is a misnomer, that it is in fact used to treat a whole host of women's medical issues including suppressing the growth of cancerous tumors.  He spent three days vilifying this woman and when forced to apologize to her still can't bring himself to confront her actual point.
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.
We finally get to the actual apology.  Not of course before he takes another opportunity to claim that he was just being funny.  And when he finally apologizes it's for his "insulting word choices."  You see the problem is that he called her a "slut" instead of simply promiscuous, maybe he should have just implied she was a whore instead of outright calling her a "prostitute."  The problem isn't with Rush Limbaugh's word choices, the problem is with what he meant.  He still thinks she's a slut, he's just sorry he got in trouble for saying it out loud.  And that's why this isn't an apology, and that's why we can't let this issue go.

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