A Philosopher's Blog

Of Limbaugh and Maher

Posted in Aesthetics, Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on March 9, 2012
English: Rush Limbaugh at CPAC in February 2009.

Image via Wikipedia

When American radio personality Rush Limbaugh accused Sandra Fluke of being a slut and a prostitute, it created quite a stir. Folks on the left were suitably outraged and responded with both condemnations and attempts to exploit the situation to raise funds for political purposes. Some folks on the right also condemned Limbaugh’s behavior (or at least his semantics) and others pointed out that the left often seems to give a free pass to the apparently misogynist statements made by liberal celebrities, such as comedian Bill Maher.

I have seen Maher’s TV show and listened to Limbaugh’s radio program. While they certainly appeal to a specific audience, I found both of them to be fairly uninteresting and somewhat less than entertaining. Both men do, however, excel at being nasty to their opponents and both seem adept in expressions of misogyny. After all, while Limbaugh called Fluke a slut and a prostitute, Maher called Sarah Palin a “dumb twat.”Given that Maher and Limbaugh can be seen as two peas in a pod (although one is the left pea and the other the right pea), it is hardly shocking that Maher has come to Limbaugh’s defense as criticism mounts and sponsors have begun to dump Limbaugh. While there are many issues to address here, my main concern is with the ethical matters in regards to the claim that liberals like Maher often get a free pass while Limbaugh is being savaged.

It is, of course, worth considering the possibility that although the two men are being treated differently, the difference is fair. Making this claim stick would require showing a morally relevant difference between the two.

One approach that has been taken by some folks is to point out that Maher has gone  after the likes of Palin and Bachmann with his seemingly misogynistic comments while Limbaugh went after a young law school student. This approach does have some merit. After all, Palin is a public political figure and such attacks are part of the political game. In contrast, Fluke is just a young law student and hence attacking her is a different matter. To use an analogy, Palin is like an armed combatant who is a legitimate target and Fluke is like a civilian who happened to enter the combat zone. As such, attacking Palin is acceptable while going after Fluke is not.

One obvious reply is that if being in the public arena justifies such attacks, then Fluke made herself into a combatant. Metaphorically speaking, she took up arms and charged into battle-thus making her a legitimate target. However, there still seems something dubious about accepting that women who enter the public arena are thus fair game for being called “sluts” or “twats.” This takes me to the second reply.

Another obvious reply is that even though Palin is a public figure and hence fair game for harsh criticism, this hardly justifies calling her a twat. Going back to the war analogy, the mere fact that someone is a legitimate target does not entail that anything can be done to them without it being wrong. Intuitively, using misogynistic terms like “twat” and “slut” to attack women seems to be wrong. As such, if Limbaugh is in the wrong here, so are folks like Maher.

A second approach is to claim that liberals cannot be sexists using the same sort of logic that people use when they say that minorities cannot be racists or women cannot be sexists.

On the one hand, it could be argued that this is true. After all, someone who really is a liberal would seem to hold liberal views regarding women and sexism is hardly liberal.

On the other hand, this could be seen as being a bit like saying that a person cannot be a liar because they are honest. But, of course, the person might not be honest. Likewise, although liberals like Maher claim to be liberals, perhaps they are not.  After all, calling women “twats” hardly seems like enlightened liberalism. There is also the possibility that just as when we say someone is honest we do not mean that they never lie when we say that someone is liberal we do not mean that they are liberal about everything. As such, someone like Maher could be liberal in some areas and not so much in others (such as when it comes to saying hateful things about women he dislikes).

As a final point on the liberal matter, there is also the tradition of folks who love humanity but who are not so keen about actual humans. As such, a person who holds to liberal ideas in theory might not apply them to specific individuals. So, a person might profess to the liberal values of equality and be opposed, in theory, to sexism and yet not practice those values. As such, it seems quite possible for alleged liberals to be sexist. Thus, trying to defend Maher and his ilk by appealing to their liberalism does not work. In fact, this sort of appeal makes them seem worse-they appear to be failing to live up to ideals that they are supposed to hold as good liberals.

A third approach is to argue that while both men said seemingly misogynistic things about specific women, Limbaugh’s attack can be seen as a general attack on women while Maher was expressing his dislike of particular women. In the case of Limbaugh’s remarks, the implication seems to clearly be that any woman who argues for having health insurance cover contraception is a slut and a prostitute. In the case of Maher, he seems to simply be using misogynistic terms like “twat” to express his dislike of particular women. He does not, however, present a general attack that claims all women are dumb twats-just, for example, Sarah Palin.

Thus, Limbaugh could be seen as presenting what might be regarded as a misogynist position while Maher is only using misogynistic language. While this might seem like a rather fine distinction, it does have the potential to be a morally relevant difference in that Mahers might be less bad than Limbaugh in terms of what they say about women. That is, Maher is being mean to specific women he dislikes and using hateful language whereas Limbaugh is not only attacking a specific woman but also engaging in a much broader attack on women (or at least a large subset of woman). That said, some might see Maher as also attacking a subset of women, namely conservative women that Maher’s dislikes.

While I do see something of a distinction here, this does not seem to warrant giving Maher a free pass while Limbaugh is being attacked. After all, Maher is still in the wrong for using such terms.

A final approach, and one that seems to have the most merit, is to argue that there is a relevant distinction between the two men in regards to their role. While Limbaugh and Maher are both media personalities, Maher presents himself as a comedian while Limbaugh presents himself as a commentator. As such, it could be contended that the role of a comedian differs from that of a commentator in ways that warrant the difference in treatment.

On the face of it, this does have some appeal. After all, when comedic shows such as South Park include insulting material, they are often given a pass on the grounds that this sort of thing is a legitimate part of comedy. To use another example, when stand up comedians include sexist and racist remarks as part of their acts, this is typically just considered part of comedy (with some notable exceptions, of course) and not taken as racism or sexism.

One reason for this, obviously enough, is that the comedians often employ racist and sexist language to lampoon racism and sexism. That is, they are laughing at/parodying  these things rather than being racist or sexist.  In the case of Maher calling Sarah Palin a “dumb twat” it does not seem that he is using comedy to criticize sexism against women. Rather, he seems to simply be calling her a “dumb twat.” As such, another reason is needed.

Comedy, as the saying goes, is not pretty. Aristotle, in his Poetics, regards the ludicrous as a subdivision of the ugly. As he saw it, comedy  involves “an imitation of characters of a lower type” and “consists in some defect or ugliness.” Given this view of comedy, it could be argued that comics can thus be excused for ugliness and acting as “characters of a lower type.” Thus, since Maher is acting as a comedian, then he can be excused for such behavior-he is just acting within the legitimate parameters of comedy. In contrast. Limbaugh is not acting as a comedian and hence subject to criticism that Maher legitimately avoids.

That said, there seem to be some points worth considering. The first is that  while Maher is a comedian, this does not give him a free pass across the board-only in the limited context of comedy. As such, if he is acting as a commentator (like Limbaugh) then his comic cloak does not protect him.

The second point is that the comic pass is not all encompassing. Aristotle notes that while the comic character is of the lower, it is ” not in the full sense of the word bad.” He also adds that the ugliness of comedy “is not painful or destructive. ” As such, a comedian can thus exceed the bounds of comedy (as has happened in other cases, such as Michael Richard’s infamous rant) and cross over into evil. While this can be a matter that involves some degree of subjectivity, it seems quite reasonable to regard calling Sarah Palin a “dumb twat” as going beyond comedy and into what is painful or destructive. As such, Maher cannot cloak himself in comedy to avoid the criticism he is due.

A third point is that Limbaugh can also claim to be a comedian-a very good case could be made that he is playing a role and is a parody of what he professes to be. Of course, this would almost certainly not get him that free pass, for the same reason Maher’s remarks are not covered by his comedic cloak.

In light of the above discussion it seems clear that if Limbaugh should be taken to task for his “slut” comments, Maher should also be criticized on moral grounds for his misogynistic remarks. The fact that Maher has largely enjoyed a free pass shows a problem well worth considering: the wink and laugh all to often given to misogyny coming from the left.

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73 Responses

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  1. hemingway12 said, on March 9, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Good story. Maher has better guests though, and if you ignore 80% of what he says, the show is alright.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on March 9, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Let’s also remember that these guys are both media whores and ultimately are in it only for themselves.

    • anon said, on March 9, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Such a sad truth

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      [Commence joking:] I think they prefer to be called “entertainment workers” rather than “whores.” Also, I suspect the “sex workers” would probably not want to be associated with them. 🙂 [End joking.]

  3. T. J. Babson said, on March 9, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Mike, you might have also mentioned that having the president get personally involved in an issue like this is also highly unusual to say the least. Is there any relationship between the president’s targeting of Limbaugh and the sudden increase in death threats he has received?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      On the one hand, that was a savvy political move. On the other, his action was consistent with his likely principles (and the fact that he has two daughters).

      Death threats against Limbaugh or Obama?

    • Anonymous said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:49 am

      I must say that Limbaugh and Maher are still not created equal. Maher has a show in which the F-bomb is as common as silicon. Also, Limbaugh apologized in this instance.


      • dhammett said, on March 10, 2012 at 10:30 am

        He’s the lovable little fuzzball he’s always claimed to be. The all-knowing, all-seeing Maha-Rushie. being all-knowing and all-seeing, he knew what response his comments would elicit. And he knew there’d be plenty of dittoheads who actually believed his apologies.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

        I can listen to Rush longer than I can listen to Maher, so perhaps you have something there.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on March 9, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Let’s also keep in mind that a lot of castration imagery flows from the distaff side of talk TV and radio. Is this really acceptable?

    • dhammett said, on March 9, 2012 at 11:16 am

      I’ll have to take your word for that take your word for that. 🙂

      As they say, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. . .and vice versa. . .assuming one can castrate a gander. . .

      At any rate, as you know, context counts.
      If you’re listening to a pet show hosted by a female veterinarian, it would seem castration imagery would be unobjectionable (depending, of course, on the appropriateness of language used). If you want to broadcast on your program an children’s rhyme adapted for radio , you may want to depict Mary’s parents deciding, for any number of reasons, to have her little pet lamb castrated. In such a case, “whacking off his fuzzy nuts” would likely not be appropriate language. “Taking him to his doctor to remove some parts so he’ll be prepared for his adult life among other animals and his human friends” would be better.

      And the apparent intention–literal or figurative–must be considered. If a “lady” host calls on her listeners to stalk a certain male, drag him into an alley and cut his balls off—that’s wrong. Right? If she says “It’s too bad we can’t castrate him ‘cuz we don’t want any more like him”, that’s questionable. But not unacceptable. But when Rush said “She’s a slut”. he wasn’t being ambiguous. The video’s out there to see. This was not loveable fuzzball Maha Rushie speaking, and I daresay he’s getting a reaction he didn’t expect.

      • T. J. Babson said, on March 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm

        An example:

        • dhammett said, on March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

          Related issue: Is man-on- man vilification more acceptable than man-on-woman vilification? Is woman-on-woman vilification more acceptable than woman-on- man vilification? Do the looks of the attacker and/or the victim play any part in the responses of others to the attack? Would Rush’s attack have been less objectionable had it been aimed at another male? Or if Rush had been a girl?

          Side note:Santorum’s been married once. Limbaugh’s been married four times. Depending on your point of view, Santorum wins/loses 4-1. Santorum has seven children, Limbaugh, none. Depending on your point of view, Limbaugh wins/ loses 7-0.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

            Good question. In my Aesthetics class we discuss the matter of comedy, specifically whether or not certain groups can use language that other groups cannot. For example, a black comedian that throws around the “n-word” gets laughs, whereas a white comedian is supposed to steer clear of that word.

            I’d say vilification is bad, regardless of who is vilifying who. That said, I suppose a case could be made that it is worse for a member of an allegedly more powerful group to vilify a member of a supposed weaker group. So, a man bashing on a woman using sexist terms might be seen as worse than a woman bashing a man using sexists terms, on the principle that the patriarchy enjoys a power advantage. Of course, some folks think that is BS.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm


  5. T. J. Babson said, on March 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm

  6. dhammett said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I’m usually pretty good at catching the meaning of comments such as this. But here, I’m confused.

    The only thing I can be sure of from Axelrod’s comment is that he thought that one of three candidates for the president’s dog could have been Miss California. Now we know the most common derogatory meaning of “dog” as applied to a woman relates to her appearance. But even you, TJ, probably recognize the physical beauty of Carrie Prejean, with or without her top. So that’s not likely Axelrod’s meaning here.

    He could be implying that she’s a “bitch”. And he probably is. But he doesn’t say “One of the candidates could have been that bitch Miss California”. Does he? Rush would have called her a bitch, had he been so inclined to deal with that subject from his “unique” perspective. Just as he called Ms Fluke a slut. And demanded to see videos of her sexual activities.

    As I see it, any comparison between Axelrod’s comments and Rush’s rant is truly a comparison between apples and oranges.

    In other words, Axelrod’s isn’t a crude, sexist comment, is it? It’s a sly, slightly off-color comment about someone made a comment about gay marriage (she didn’t favor it) and possibly broke pageant rules covering nude photos.
    Could you provide reliable news sources identifying the specifics of the Prejean situation. . .nude photos, anti-homosexual comments, etc.? With that info, perhaps together we could connect the dots.

    • T. J. Babson said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:13 am

      Seems pretty clear Axelrod called Prejean a dog. This goes right along with Obama giving Hilary the finger. High class folks in this administration.

      • T. J. Babson said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:17 am

        I would have voted for Hillary, but never for the guy that gave her the finger.

      • dhammett said, on March 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

        “Seems pretty clear Axelrod called Prejean a dog.” Sure. I said that above. But not a bitch. TJ, there is, believe it or not, a difference.


        A brief bit from that article is useful here: “Yet the discussion lies not in the similarities, but the differences, which are four: intended audience, passion of the moment, subsequent action, and nature of target”

      • dhammett said, on March 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

        Note position of forefinger.
        Here’s a wikipedia definition:
        “In Western culture, the finger (as in giving someone the finger or the bird), also known as the middle finger or flipping someone off, is an obscene hand gesture, often meaning the phrases “up yours”,”fuck off” (“screw off”) or “fuck you” (“screw you”) . It is performed by showing the back of a CLOSED FIST that has only the middle finger extended upwards.”
        Or go to google images for further education:
        You’ll find some Bush fingering there, too, if that’s your thing.

        To bring this back to the Limbaugh fiasco, Obama’s “finger” might be the equivalent of Rush calling Fluke a “stub” and a “pastascoot”

        • Anonymous said, on March 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

          Obama is a low-class Chicago Pol, on par with his pals like Tony Rezko. He has divided the country like no one before him.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm

            I think Lincoln divided the country more, what with the civil war and all.

            Also, the division that exists today cannot be blamed entirely on Obama. After all, the Republicans have been contributing to the divisiveness as well. A review of the remarks made my Republicans shows that they are quite willing to play the division game.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

              I would argue that Lincoln unified a divided country.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm

              “A review of the remarks made my Republicans shows that they are quite willing to play the division game.”

              Give me one example where a Republican president singled out a network or an individual the way Obama singled out Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

              Well, I’d start with Sarah Palin and her “gotcha question” thing. Plus, bashing the media for being liberal is a well established Republican tradition.

              To be fair, of course, folks on the left bash the right wing of the mainstream media (Fox, etc.). Hardly a shock that people bash the media folks that disagree with them.

            • dhammett said, on March 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm

              Bush called a reporter a “major league asshole” .
              Of course, he thought the mikes were off, so that makes a difference.right?

              My guess is that Lincoln might have been pretty straightforward had Fox existed back then. He was a blunt and forceful, but controlled communicator. But here’s a comment that would most certainly have alienated slave owners and their followers: “Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

              You could argue “that Lincoln united a divided country.” Some southerners would still argue that Lincoln divided a country that was functioning just fine, thank you, with niggers in their proper place and that he was stepping all over state’s rights to destroy their right to own people See my 4:38 below.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

              “Of course, he thought the mikes were off, so that makes a difference.right?”

              Yes. Makes a big difference. Also, there is a difference between an offhand comment and a calculated attack.

            • dhammett said, on March 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

              TJ: “Yes. Makes a big difference.”
              I’m curious. Does that reasoning apply to what’s NOT said when the mikes and cameras are on?

              Not surprisingly, not one of the current Republican candidates for president has seen fit to flatly and forcefully repudiate Limbaugh with the mikes on. . .The best Rick Sanctimonious could come up with was ‘absurd’! Gingrich–who is one marriage behind Limbaugh–managed to say nothing negative about his portly fellow conservative , but did congratulate El Rushbo for ‘apologizing’. Ron Paul, who is ideologically driven to steer clear of “foreign affairs” did, however criticise Rush for his ‘apology’ indicating that it was rooted not in sincerity but in “concern for his bottom line.” From what I’ve read, Ron didn’t come down hard on Limbaugh’s attack.

              George Will said on This Week that House Speaker John Boehner’s use of the word “inappropriate” to describe Limbaugh’s language was more fitting for “using the salad fork for your entrée.
              And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh,” Will alleged. “They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.” That last sentence is very, very interesting.

              I never thought I’d say this: Nominate George Will for as your Republican candidate for President. He won’t win, He doesn’t have any more integrity overall than the final four. But in this case he’s on the money.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 12, 2012 at 11:11 am

              “Not surprisingly, not one of the current Republican candidates for president has seen fit to flatly and forcefully repudiate Limbaugh with the mikes on. . .”

              Rush is a talk show host who represents nobody but himself. Presidents (and presidential candidates) should not involve themselves in such nonsense. This is one reason why Obama is so divisive.

              “I never thought I’d say this: Nominate George Will for as your Republican candidate for President.”

              I happen to be a lifelong Democrat, and I would have voted for Hillary, but the current Democratic Party is no longer center-left but is now extreme left, and I think this is a disaster for our country. Also, Obama intentionally divides the country in a vicious way, and it pains me to see so many people go along with it.

            • dhammett said, on March 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

              TJ: “Presidents (and presidential candidates) should not involve themselves in such nonsense. This is one reason why Obama is so divisive.”
              ALL of the Republican candidates got “involved”. They all commented inadequately and abstractly, and with the exception of Paul, in a fashion that amounted to little more than kissing Rush’s ring. Adding to the summary I provided in my 10:45 above: Romney said “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used. ” What would he have called her? A f*g skag?
              Romney and Sanctorum may have fathered numerous children, but , in a figurative sense, there’s not a functioning pair of cojones between’em.

              They couldn’t even stand up to the odious mainstream media and say “No comment. I think it is inappropriate to comment on this situation.” for fear someone might ask a difficult question like “Why do you think it’s inappropriate? He’s got millions and millions of listeners. ”


              They may have to respond that, despite the numbers, what he says is of little consequence… risking the possibility that Rush would attack ‘them’ on air and rally his dittoheads against them.

          • dhammett said, on March 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm

            I’m reasonably certain the Confederate states felt that Lincoln and the North were hellbent on tearing the country apart. I’m also fairly confident that Lincoln and his supporters were convinced theirs was a justifiable attempt to unify the nation. Perspective.

            I. a/ ” Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.” Buffalo Springfield
            b/ “Nobody’s right and everybody’s wrong.” Red Hot Chili Peppers
            c/ “We’re all bozos on this bus.” Firesign Theater.
            II. a/ “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool
            all the people all the time.” Lincoln or Barnum
            b/ “You can fool too many of the people too much of the time” Thurber

            Choose from group I and group II above. Submit answers below.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

          Flipping someone off is still less bad than calling a person a slut and prostitute over the course of a show. Now if Obama kept saluting Hilary repeatedly, then there would be more of a comparison.

          • T. J. Babson said, on March 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

            Mike, Rush’s use of “slut” and “prostitute” were clearly hyperbole, and in response to Fluke’s exaggerated claims of $1,000 per year cost of contraception (when the pill costs $9/month at Walmart).

            As a writer of a book on rhetoric, I think you would have spotted hyperbole. Actually, I think you know it was hyperbole, but you refuse to face the truth about Obama…

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

              I checked with some of my female friends and, after a slap or seven, I learned that $1,000 seems a bit steep, although it depends on the particular product and insurance. For example, I learned that the ring costs about $40 a month (with insurance), so that would be $480 a year. Of course, without insurance that could be higher.

              As you note, Walmart does offer it at $9 a month, for women who use that product, etc. If women can get contraception for $9 a month, then it would seem that Walmart has solved the problem.

              True, one could say that he was engaged in hyperbole. But that tends to be best applied to exaggerations rather than such harsh accusations. If I say of someone’s mom that she is a whore, then that does not seem to be hyperbole. Now, if I say that someone’s moma is so fat that she has her own zip code, that is hyperbole.

              Fluke’s figures might be off. CNN, I saw, had the number at around $600. So, she might have over-estimated it by $400. Unless, of course, she is referring to what she would need to pay-she might be accurate in that regard.

              But, let us suppose that she was wrong about the cost. Does this entail that she is slut?

          • T. J. Babson said, on March 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm

            Mike, Rush used the term “slut” in a purely hyperbolic way, arguing that condoms cost $1 each, so if Sandra needs 1000 of them every year she is a couple of sigmas above the average in terms of sexual activity.

            • dhammett said, on March 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm

              “. . .if Sandra needs them”
              Follow me:
              She did not say she pays $1000/year.
              She said “Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. ” For those who are, like mr limbaugh, either intentionally or accidentally misreading Ms. Fluke’s testimony, allow me to interpret those words.

              She says “contraception can cost ‘A’ woman over $3000” . I trust you would agree with me that saying “can cost” is not the same as saying “does cost” or “will cost”.
              She says “For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. ” This is a straightforward statement that $3000 is “practically an entire summer’s salary ” for students who are on “public interest scholarships.” The only reference Ms Fluke makes to herself in that statement is that she is a student and that she is on a “public interest scholarship”. Clearly, Mr. Limbaugh, in his own private interest, saw fit to ignore the fact that she was acting as the voice for other women.

              She says “A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries.” My guess is that that prescription costs much more than 9$/month. But that’s my guess. Perhaps you have proof to the contrary. She does say later on that the friend couldn’t get insurance coverage and ended up paying over $100/month out of pocket. The whole story is more complex and devastating than that.

              Try this and follow link to pdf containing the entire testimony.
              I believe she makes it amply clear throughout that she’s sharing the stories of other women–not her own. Not once does she say she takes contraceptives or even imply that she does so. The “. . .IF Sandra needs them” is a construction of yours. Here’s Rush in one of his so-called “apologies”:

              LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], 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. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.
              The johns, that’s right. We would be the johns — no! We’re not the johns. Well — yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word.
              OK, so, she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled. I take it back.

              Note, please, TJ, that there are no “ifs” or “ands” and only one over-sized butt in his statement.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

              OK, dhammett, now you need to explain why contraceptives should be mandated by the government to be covered at 100% (no co-pay) whereas the insulin a diabetic needs to stay alive is not mandated by the government to be covered at 100%.

              Exactly how do you rationalize this?

            • dhammett said, on March 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm

              Oh, TJ,. . . 😦
              This article was sparked by the controversy Rush caused by inappropriately calling Ms. Fluke a slut, and he has been roundly criticized by right-thinking (left and right and center) people for doing so. This article is about Limbaugh and Maher, and the discussion has rightly centered around the gross piggishness of Rush Limbaugh and others like him. His tendency toward blatantly oafish speech and thoughtlessness is nothing new .
              If he had not inserted his fat flapping lips into the issue with such typical Limbaugh crudeness, this article may have been about the issue you say I must respond to. BUT IT’S NOT. And I won’t address that issue.

              Hey, as I see it you’ve just more or less conceded that you have no defense against and nothing to add to 9:21 above and you want to change the subject. So go aheadl Wait until Mike writes an article specifically aimed at the subject you want to write about and Rush apparently intended to blow smoke out his chubby rump about. I’ll sit back and see where the discussion leads.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 13, 2012 at 6:34 am

              dhammett, you are the one who argued that contraceptives may be needed as a drug:

              “She says “A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries.” My guess is that that prescription costs much more than 9$/month.”

              I am asking why contraceptives should be covered at 100% where drugs people need to stay alive should not be covered at 100%.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 13, 2012 at 6:36 am

              Of course, since the policy cannot be justified, it perfectly explains why Dems would rather talk about Rush’s hyperbole.

            • dhammett said, on March 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

              You say that I argued that. Actuallly, I stated a fact. Some prescription birth control pills are prescribed for the purposes Ms Fluke alluded to. Those contraceptives cost much more than $9/month. Go back to your 3/12 11:16 am for the first mention of ‘your’ claim.

              Ms. Fluke is not a slut. Ms. Fluke is not a slut. Ms. Fluke is not a slut.
              Rush Limbaugh is a pig. Rush is a pig. A pig. That’s what this article is about. There’s not excuse for his statement, and no avenue you’ve pursued here has succeeded in creating one.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 13, 2012 at 10:39 am

              hyperbole, dhammett. Rhetorical device used by speakers and writers everywhere. Can you remember the countless times Bush was called a Nazi? Remember General Betray-Us? Hyperbole.

              Are you willing to hold the Left to the same standards you are imposing on Rush Limbaugh?

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 13, 2012 at 11:18 am

              And even if SF were a slut, are you saying there is something wrong with that? And if there is nothing wrong with it, why was it so terrible in your view to call her one?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

              In the tapes I saw, he was calling her a slut and prostitute because he claimed she wanted to be paid to have sex. I think the contraception she was talking about was not a condom, but I could be in error.

            • dhammett said, on March 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

              TJ:@ 3/13 11:18 “And even if SF were a slut, are you saying there is something wrong with that? And if there is nothing wrong with it, why was it so terrible in your view to call her one?”
              That is a truly stange pair of questions.

              Uh, er, “IF SF were a slut”— I hope you would agree that all evidence indicates that she is not. IF you have evidence that she is, then present it here and feel free to call her a slut. A slut is a slut is a slut. No. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with calling a slut a slut, though making the determination would be much more difficult than El Rushbo would like us to believe, and there are certainly more appropriate ways to voice your views.

              I stated my point just a bit earlier: Sandra Fluke is not a slut. Sandra Fluke is not a slut. Sandra Fluke is not a slut. It’s terrible, in my view, to call her one, because she is not.

              And please. Rush wasn’t using the term in a hyperbolic way;; he was seriously presenting his criticism as the conclusion of what was in reality the end point of a dot-to-dot trip through his narrow little mind. He presented NOTHING that might be construed as actual evidence. But here’s his problem: He uses these techniques on a daily basis to confound and convince his audience. He takes a bit of material from here, intentionally misconstrues it, then takes a bit from there, misconstrues it, and magically reaches a conclusion that his dittoheads call in and support.#* Most of them don’t know hyperbole from hypoglycemia from rectal polyps. They just know what he says fits what they want to hear. I’ll wager his conclusion about Ms. Fluke was very logical to many of them.

              I will stick by what I said. Rush Limbaugh is a pig. Rush is a pig. A pig.
              He looks like a pig night look if it walked on two legs. He acts like a pig might act if a pig had a few human characteristics. He talks like a pig would talk if a pig could talk. Rush is obviously not an actual pig. We all know what pigs looks like. The term is primarily used to describe the four-footed living version of the other white meat. But he, as much as anyone, including Maher, Hannity, etal, has, over the years, earned the label, if we’re going to use labels.

              I sincerely hope you can see the difference here.

              Sandra Fluke is not a slut. But we don’t really know what a slut “looks” like, do we? It’s a derogatory term only applied to humans and most often to females. What has she done to earn that label in any world other than RushWorld?

              #*For you own enlightenment, read Ms. Fluke’s statement. Then listen to Mr. Limbaugh’s reconstructions. I ‘ve done some of the groundwork for you in my 3/12 9:21 pm above.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

              dhammett, do you agree that thanks to Rush, Sandra Fluke is likely to become a very rich woman?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 14, 2012 at 11:16 am

              Rush did hand her a golden ticket, albeit on a pile of crap.

            • dhammett said, on March 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm

              TJ: I believe that Ms. Fluke was destined to make quite a nice sum of money, become “very rich”, if you will, in the legal profession long before she testified before the committee . Rush chose to insert himself into an issue that he obviously knew little about –he apparently didn’t hear or read her testimony before “analysing” and “commenting”. Likely he hoped to confuse matters because, well, he’s El Rushbo and that’s what he does best. My guess is that he’ll be wealthy when the tide goes out. There are always plenty of dittoheads to keep him afloat.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

              “TJ: I believe that Ms. Fluke was destined to make quite a nice sum of money, become “very rich”, if you will, in the legal profession long before she testified before the committee .”

              So she could probably afford her $9/month contraceptive bill.

              So what exactly qualified SF to testify in front of Congress about contraception? That she had some friends who used contraceptives?

            • dhammett said, on March 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm

              “So she could probably afford her $9/month contraceptive bill.”
              How does that follow? She’s going to be rich in the future, so she can pay for something she shouldn’t have to pay for now?
              S. Fluke: “Hey, Mr. Banker, I’m going to be very rich in the future because Rush Limbaugh is an ass. Please lend me enough money to by a million dollar home and a Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S” .
              Banker: “You look like someone who may some day be very rich, Ms Fluke. Sign right on this line. Your loan application will be approved before the end of the business day.

              “So what exactly qualified SF to testify in front of Congress about contraception? That she had some friends who used contraceptives?”
              This article should answer your questions.

              Republicans and Issa’s committee, God bless’em, would love to have concentrated on the religious aspect of the contraceptive debate and to have that accepted as a fair and complete coverage of the subject. But contraception is, obviously, not merely a religious issue. Many, many women, of many religious persuasions, employ contraceptive methods, and if the question of insurance coverage for contraception is going to be studied and eventually debated fairly, that study should begin with a mixed (male and female) committee and a broad mix of witnesses. My impression is that the second gathering, with Ms Fluke’s testimony, was an attempt to give some voice to the aspect of the issue that Issa’s committee tried to avoid.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

              Sandra Fluke is a on a Georgetown Public Interest Fellowship:


              Fellowship salaries vary significantly. Some salaries are as low as $25,000, while others are as high as $50,000. Currently, the typical salary is in the high $30,000 range. Fellowship salaries are usually not negotiable. Most fellowships offer benefits such as health insurance and vacation, and many offer loan forgiveness that supplements Georgetown’s loan repayment assistance program.

              You are picking the wrong people to feel sorry for, dhammett.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

              But how does this impact her claims? Or what Rush said about her?

            • dhammett said, on March 14, 2012 at 9:21 am

              So. The article from the Huffington Post answered your questions?
              “You are picking the wrong people to feel sorry for, dhammett.”
              Never said I feel sorry for her. I said there’s a difference between having some money now and being “very rich” later. It’s a difference I had hoped you’d understand.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

              I also understand that someone like SF can borrow against her future earnings and live far better than the people who you want to force to pay for her contraception.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

              Who are the people that are paying for it? She gets health care as part of her compensation, as do many folks. In my own case, I have health coverage through my school, but I pay for that. As such, I am the people paying for my health care.

              Fluke does not seem to be asking that you cut her a check, but perhaps I am missing something.

            • dhammett said, on March 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

              TJ/ “Understand.” Yet 70 replies into discussion of this article (“Of Limbaugh and Maher”) you still don’t understand that Limbaugh’s attack on Ms. Fluke was the deliberate product of his ridiculous “logic” and his verbal abuse was not “purely hyperbolic” (your 6:54). . .
              70 replies, and not one word from you recognizing that Ms. Fluke is not a slut. Ms. Fluke is not a slut. She’s not a slut.** I believe this is as close as you get: “. . .even if SF were a slut”. Try “Ms. Fluke is NOT a slut.” Can you find it in you to type those words? Give it the good ol’ Liberty University try.

              **Soon enough time will have passed that we can assume no evidence will be produced proving she’s a slut. Eventually we can feel reasonably comfortable that the hyper-conservative fringe won’t fabricate evidence against her. We’ll be left with the true believers. Enter Orly Taitz 🙂

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

        The dog thing is a bit grayer than Limbaugh slut thing. This is not to say that calling people dogs is a nice thing, but is significantly less bad than calling a young woman a slut and a prostitute because she defended covering contraception in health care. Maher’s remarks about Palin and Bachman are closer to those of Rush in terms of their badness.

        • T. J. Babson said, on March 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm

          So no higher standard for actual members of the administration? It is OK for employees of the executive branch to call Miss California a dog? Limbaugh is a private citizen who ultimately represents nobody but himself. Axelrod represents the Obama administration.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

            That would be another issue. When someone is speaking “in office”, then they should be held to a professional standard. However, even folks who hold office seem to be entitled to some freedom to speak as “normal” people. For example, I am sure that we all say things in our off work lives that we’d not say at work (and I do not mean just bad stuff). Of course, it could be argued that in the media environment of today no office holder is ever “off” and hence they are held accountable for everything they say as if they were speaking officially.

            I’d not be inclined to call people dogs in my professional capacity, but that would be less bad than calling someone a slut. Of course, I endeavor to be respectful when speaking of people, sometimes even when they are perhaps not entitled to that respect.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm

              “…less bad than calling someone a slut.”

              Is being called a slut really so bad? Why did so many women participate in Slutwalks? I thought the point was that being promiscuous was simply a lifestyle choice and that women should embrace their inner slut.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm

              I must admit that my perspective of “slut” is an older one, namely that it is a rather serious insult. I infer that Rush wasn’t trying to praise Fluke and hence also infer that he takes “slut” roughly as a I do, namely an insult.

              Now, if a subset of people are slutwalking and trying to change the connotation of “slut”, then that could change the meaning of the term at some point. But, I suspect that Rush is not slutwalking with the slutwalkers.

              Now, if “slut” is now a neutral term or a term of praise, then perhaps Rush was not criticizing Fluke at all, but rather praising her for her alleged slut ways.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm

              The slut walk manifesto states: “Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative association. Aimed at those who were sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality…”


            • dhammett said, on March 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm

              TJ: you ask in your 6:49 “Is being called a slut really so bad?”
              I would suggest that you answer your question in your 6:42. Calling your attention to the following selection from the portion of the manifesto you provide there:
              “Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative association. Aimed at those who were sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label.”
              Emphasize “predominantly negative association” and “suffered” and “burden” and “label” . Your answer to your question: Yes.

              I don’t know how many women participated in the “Slutwalks” . Show me that it was “SO many” and not just “many” or “some” or “a relative few”. Was Ms. Fluke “asking for it?” Did she ask to be verbally raped by ElRushbo? Did Ms. Fluke ascribe to the manifesto? Did she sign it? Did she march? I’m sure Rush would pay you for videos with proof. . .:) He’d pay you even more for really explicit footage for his private collection.

            • T. J. Babson said, on March 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

              Paul Theroux:

              The mention of sexual matters in public life leaves us gasping and confused and irrationally indignant. The iconic figure in this respect is President Clinton getting a BJ in the Oval Office—a seismic event in the United States. What bothered many people—me included—was that he was enjoying, and early on defending something that was a dismissible offense to anyone elsewhere in the government. The Starr Report was dense with lubricious details.

              Clinton’s sexual proclivities were everything, but who mentions the cruel errand that Clinton went on in the fall of 1992, when—interrupting his campaign in New Hampshire—he flew to Little Rock to sign the governor’s execution order of Ricky Ray Rector, a mentally deficient man, and a helpless victim of the system. Clinton in assisting in the murder of this man wanted to prove to New Hampshire voters that he was a hard-liner on crime, yet in the recent PBS four-hour documentary which is loaded with Lewinskiana there is no mention of this melancholy murder.

              Similarly, Newt Gingrich is the thrice-married man—and jeered at for being horny. The fact that he is a shill for a Las Vegas gambling king who paid him $11 million to claim that the Palestinians are “an invented people” does not matter at all. His dipstick matters more, as it mattered with Eliot Spitzer, the Anthony Weiner, and all the rest of them.

              “Slut” and “whore” have always been powerful words. Laputa (the whore) is the flying island in “Gullivers Travels.” “That great whore, reason,” Martin Luther famously said. In the Book of Mormon “the great whore of all the earth,” the Whore of Babylon, is the Catholic Church—words that must have tripped off Mitt Romney’s tongue many times, in his role as bishop in his readings to his flock. This most American of religions, cooked up by one of our more priapic prophets, had sex on the brain from the moment Joseph Smith crouched under a blanket and dictated the book to the first of his many wives.

              This whole Limbaugh business epitomizes our confusion and our hypocrisy. The folks who depicted George Bush as a chimp, and Sarah Palin as a skank, are indignant when these same words are used against their people in the virtue industry, and that includes the troopers in the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps. The trouble with Limbaugh is that he is not a satirist—hasn’t the brains or the humor for it—and his earnestness, and his vanity, always gets in the way. He seems to believe that he is an opinion leader, but even as a gas bag on the sidelines he has a role to play, because not many other people are playing that role. If only he knew more about the power of satire, how it can do more than mere mockery. But, as a mocker—the Fluke affair is proof—he has an effect, and I think it uncovered one of our greatest weaknesses and our weirdest tendencies.

              You have to give Limbaugh a pass, otherwise you lose the right to go on calling Gingrich and Eric Cantor pimps for Israel, and Rick Santorum a mental midget, and if you foreswear colorful, if not robust or wicked language altogether you might as well shut up.


            • dhammett said, on March 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm

              Theroux’s verbose and mostly failed attempt to dig deep into the American psyche doesn’t really deal in any useful way with Limbaugh’s inappropriate attack on Ms. Fluke. I don’t care if Theroux thinks “This whole Limbaugh business epitomizes our confusion and our hypocrisy.” Whether it does or not doesn’t matter.

              And I don’t give a rat’s fanny if Mr. Theroux believes that “You have to give Limbaugh a pass, otherwise you lose the right to go on calling Gingrich and Eric Cantor pimps for Israel, and Rick Santorum a mental midget”. Bull. He’s obviously got a strange and self-serving understanding of the First Amendment.

              The way I interpret freedom of speech, Rush is free to call Ms. Fluke a “slut”. In return, he’s also free to be criticized for it. I can call Limbaugh a fat insensitive, waste if space. The difference between what I say and what he said is that he’s got no proof for his statement about Ms. Fluke. It’s all a concoction of his (or his writers’)? own infertile mind (s). In either case, it’s just another weird trip around the little connect-the-dot world that he has convinced his audience is valid “thinking”. I, on the other hand, can point to his corpulence, and the statements he makes with regularity to prove at least 2/3 of my claim. As for the third claim, I’ll put it this way— I’d prefer he would be taking up ‘your’ space and not mine. Unfortunately, we all have to suffer the loss of space and air. 😦

  7. Anonymous said, on March 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Getting lost in all this is who Ms. Fluke really is: A leftist Ivy League graduate with a law degree who wants me to pay for her birth control.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      She doesn’t want you to pay for it. Rather, she wants her health care plan (which she presumably pays for-if it works like it did when I was in grad school) to pay for it. I don’t recall her asking for you to send her a check.

      Also, even if she did want you to pay for it, the idea that folks want stuff that benefits them to be paid for by others is not something unusual. After all, our tax dollars go to all sorts of things people would rather not pay for. In my own case, I’d rather not have my tax money spent on subsidies, given to “artists” who do things that are not art, paid to contractors who overcharge and so on. Now, I do agree that we should clean up the federal spending-but if we can say “I don’t want to have my tax dollars spent on birth control, so it should not be covered”, then we would all seem to have the right to insist that anything we do not like is not paid for. This might lead to some problems…

      • magus71 said, on March 11, 2012 at 12:01 am

        Hell, give em everything.

        She wants her health care to pay for it? And what does she think the health care companies will do to their prices if they have to pay for it? Is it magic money?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on March 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

          The health care companies still make a killing. First, the extension of coverage comes along with the much maligned mandate. So, if we are all buying insurance(either with our own cash directly or as part of our benefits), then these companies should do well. Second, What gets paid in vastly exceeds what they pay out-even covering contraception. Third, covering contraception is much cheaper than covering an abortion or a pregnancy.

  8. dhammett said, on March 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Well. In a world where words have MEANING the following would present an interesting problem for the involved parties.

    From The Daily Beast:

    “Amid threats of a boycott, more than 98 companies have suspended their sponsorship of the Limbaugh show, but Rush and his associates insist (very plausibly) that many other firms have eagerly rushed in (you’ll pardon the expression) to fill the gap. To underline that point, El Rushbo says he even turned away one repentant sponsor who apparently changed his mind and wanted to come back to the show after a few days off the air; the indignant host declares he wants no part of on-air partners whose support for his work seems wobbly or tentative.”

    I’m particularly intrigued by the last sentence. The mere fact that the 98 companies listed below “suspended their sponsorship” strikes me as a very clear indication that “their support for his” . . . hmm, er, WORK 🙂 . . . seems wobbly or tentative. Clearly, if it were not tentative, they would not have withdrawn support, even temporarily. By all indications, they’re clearly fair-weather, bottom-line supporters.

    If we take Rush at his word—and I’m certain at least 3 of his 4 wives and several of his doctors would aver that we can’t—he can’t allow any of the many to return, even if they abjectly apologize and individually seal a few hundred thousand bucks in an envelope and slip it inside his pants.

    21st Century Insurance, Ace Hardware, Acura, Advance Auto Parts, Advil (All products), Alacer/Emergen-C, Allegra (all products), Allstate, Ally BankLa Quinta, American Express, Autozone, Boston Beer, British Petroleum, Bullfrog Sunblock, Caltrate, Centrum, Chapstick, Clorox (Pinesol/Homecare), Cortizone, DeVry,
    Discover Card, Domino’s Pizza, Exxon/Exxon Mobil, Farmers Insurance, Ford, Geico, General Motors (All products -GM Certified Service, Chevy, Onstar,Cadillac, etc), Gold Bond (all products), Grainger, Green Mountain Coffee, H&R Block, Hallmark, Honda, Hotels.com , IBM, Icy Hot, Intuit/Small Business, JC Penney, Johnson & Johnson (AllBrands), Kohl’s, Lifetime, Little Caesars, Lowe’s, Luxottica, Macy’s, MasterCard, McDonalds, Midas, Napa Auto Parts, National Realtor, NBC-TV, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Office Depot, Office Max, One Main Financial, Orkin, Outback, Preparation H, Progressive Insurance, ProNutrients (all products), Prudential, Radio Shack, Rent-A-Center, Rite Aid, Robitussin , Sam Adams , Sam’s Club, Schiff – Sustenex , Schiff – Digestive Advantage , Schiff – Mega Red , Schiff – Move Free , Scotts Miracle-Gro (all products) , Sears (All products) , Sony, Staples, State Farm , Sterling/Kay Jared Jewelers, Subway, Takeda Uloric, The Home Depot, ThermaCare, Toyota, Turbo Tax, Twinings of London, Tyson/Wright Brand Bacon, U. S. Postal Service, U.S. Army, Unisom, United Healthcare, Visa, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Wells Fargo, Wrigley, Yahoo!,

    Those who manage to wheedle or beg or borrow or steal their way back into his “formerly nicotine-stained” divine grace will surely exist forever under a thick pall of suspicion. Labeled forever as “whipped corporate wusses” or worse.

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