Old, fat, mostly white men messing with your ovaries
The news angers me, most days. Hence I return to it morning after morning, a junkie looking for my daily fix of righteous indignation, followed by quiet fuming until placated by orange pekoe. Most days, I get over it. Some days, I take action in pursuit of change. The last few days, I’ve just stayed angry. Really angry.
Have you heard the whole U.S. contraception debacle? Let me break it down for you.
1. Obama introduces a bill to the Senate whereby religiously-based health care providers would have to cover the cost of prescription contraception for women.
2. The Senate’s Republican majority brings a panel to weigh in on the situation. Just look at how qualified this panel is to discuss women’s reproductive rights!
Who are they? All-male religious figures, that’s who (scientists and doctors and women need not apply. Especially if women somehow are scientists and doctors… that’s just crazy).
3. The Democrats brought in a law student, Sandra Fluke, to testify about a friend who lost an ovary due to the inability to have prescription birth control covered (she had polycystic ovary syndrome). The Republicans decided she ‘wasn’t qualified‘ and barred her from testifying. Many Democrat women walked out.
4. The bill was narrowly defeated (51-48). Insurers remain the right to refuse to cover contraception.
The Icing On the Cake: Republican radio personality pundit idiot moron Rush Limbaugh blasts Fluke on his show (don’t read these quotes if you don’t want to turn purple and fume). His words:
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? 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.“
The next day (because clearly that wasn’t enough), he spouted, “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.”
Pardon me while I go vomit in my teacup. Again.
On a kind of sad and hilarious note, Rachel Maddow pointed out that Limbaugh probably doesn’t actually understand what birth control is, because his remarks indicate that he thinks a woman needs to take a birth control pill to avoid pregnancy after every (heterosexual) romp. Watch her do her thang here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640
So what does all this mean? There’s good news, and there’s bad news.
The Good News: Limbaugh might actually have screwed himself over this time. He’s lost advertisers and actually had to issue an ‘apology’, which is a rarity for him. The average person will be outraged by his asinine and offensive remarks, and it may spark some healthy debate around the issue and perhaps make a few folks do something about it.
The Bad News. I originally wanted to argue that Limbaugh’s words constituted hate speech, and that he could be taken down on this basis, but unfortunately the structure of the legal system exempts what he’s done from formal consideration as hate speech (thanks Em. for being my consult on this). To qualify as hate speech, it must be both hateful and harmful. It is definitely hateful, but is it harmful? A court likely wouldn’t see it at such, given that his listenership isn’t wide enough and one would have to make the case that his words were against women in general rather than one specific woman.
However, I do think what he said is harmful as well as hateful. What’s the danger in his rant? The danger is that a few sicko whacked out dudes will hear his words and feel validated. They won’t understand that he is exaggerating for the effect of controversy and ratings. They wont realize that his outrageous statements are mostly an act designed to inflame. They will simply feel reinforced in their misguided beliefs about how contraception is for ‘slutty’ women only, and that it’s okay to say such terrible things about women (or people, for that matter). This is why as responsible citizens we need to demand that Limbaugh and people like him be pulled from public forum, no matter how well their controversy generates ratings. It’s words like his, and people like him, that make people with seriously messed up views think that it is okay to retain to those views… and to act on them, with disastrous consequences.
Filed under: conservatism, politics | 13 Comments
Tags: contraception, democrat, GOP, Obama, politics, pundit, reproductive rights, republican, rush limbaugh, sanda fluke, senate